Chemistry Faculty & Staff
1989 B.A., Chemistry, Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA
1995 Ph.D., Medicinal Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
1995-1999 Post-doctoral Research Associate, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
1999-2005 Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, Butler University, Indianapolis, IN
2005-2013 Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, Butler University, Indianapolis, IN
2013-present Professor, Department of Chemistry, Butler University, Indianapolis, IN
2014-2017 Faculty Pre-Health Advisor, Butler University, Indianapolis, IN
primary teaching assignment: biochemistry
also teaches: general chemistry, organic chemistry
Prior to coming to Butler University in 2014, I conducted my postdoctoral research through a collaboration between the Medical University of South Carolina and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. I worked under the mentorship of Dr. Louis Guillette Jr. and Dr. John Kucklick in Charleston, SC. My research focused on the identification and quantification of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in humans and wildlife. Projects included the study of temporal trends of persistent organic pollutants in the blubber of bottlenose dolphins in subtropical habitats and the development of analytical methods to identify and measure organic contaminants in a wide variety of biological samples, from alligator egg yolk to human serum.
In 2013, I earned my PhD in the Environment program at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University in Durham, NC, under the mentorship of Dr. Heather Stapleton in the area of Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology. My dissertation research examined the fates of brominated flame retardants and the antimicrobial agent triclosan in soil amended with biosolids, as well as elucidating their photolytic and microbial transformation pathways and products. While in graduate school, I worked as a graduate teaching assistant for courses in Environmental Science and Policy and trained under a Preparing Future Faculty fellowship at Meredith College with Dr. Erin Lindquist.
I earned my undergraduate degree in Chemistry from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2005. I completed an undergraduate thesis project studying the isomer-specific bioaccumulation and biomagnification of a brominated flame retardant in Chesapeake Bay fish. During my time at SMCM, my involvement with campus clubs and organizations was as wide-ranging as my interests: everything from the St. Mary’s American Chemical Society Student Affiliates to the Equestrian Club to the Tolkien Society. After graduation, I spent a gap year working as a quality control analytical chemist at Pharmaceutics International, Inc. in Hunt Valley, MD, where I used liquid chromatography to conduct stability and impurity analysis of a wide range of pharmaceuticals.
CH105 and CH106 – General Chemistry I and II
CH107 – Advanced General Chemistry
CH321 – Analytical Chemistry
CH425 – Environmental Chemistry
CH418 – Chemical Issues in the Global Modern World
ENV300 – Environmental Science and Human Health
NW210 – Chemistry and Society
Areas of Expertise
Organic chemistry, small molecule synthesis, undergraduate education
Contributions: (published works or studies, conference presentations)
Butler Assignment (classes or work duties)
Organic Chemistry I and II with labs and Advanced Organic Mechanisms
Basketball and spending time with family
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Ph.D. 2001; Michigan State University, B.S. 1995
2004, 2008, 2011 Mortar Board LAS Faculty of the Year Award
2011 LAS award for Outstanding Professor in the Natural Sciences
2010 Brady Award for Outstanding Faculty Advisor (Timmy Foundation)
2010 SGA Outstanding Faculty of the Year award
2004 – Butler Pre-Med Society’s Professor of the Year Award
2004-2011 – Butler Student Government Association Apple for you award
2004 Order of Omega- Faculty Advisor of the Year (Phi Kappa Psi)
Association Memberships (professional/educational)
American Chemical Society
Midwestern Association of Chemistry Teachers in Liberal Arts Colleges
Indiana Local Section of the American Chemical Society
Education and Training
PhD Chemistry, University of Virginia
B.S. Chemistry, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Postdoctoral Work at Los Alamos National Laboratory
Current Research Interests
Circularly Polarized Luminescence spectroscopy
Dissymmetric luminescent lanthanides
Ionic Liquids and Deep Eutectic Solvents
Chiral Deep Eutectic Solvent development: Google sheet with DES data
Some Recent Publications
"Monosaccharide-Based Deep Eutectic Solvents for Circularly Polarized Luminescent Materials" VandenElzen, L.,Hopkins T., ACS Sustainable Chem. and Eng., 2019, 19, 16690-16697.
“Deep Eutectic Solvents for Induced Circularly Polarized Luminescence” Wright, C.R., VandenElzen, L.,Hopkins T. J. Phys. Chem. B, 2018, 122, 8730-8737.
“Circularly polarized luminescence of Sm(III) and Eu(III) complexes with chiral ligand (R/S)-BINAPO” Cotter, D., Dodder, S., Klimkowski, V., Hopkins, T. Chirality, 2018, 31, 301-311.
“Induction of Circularly Polarized Luminescence from Europium by Amino Acid Based IonicLiquids” Zercher, B.. Hopkins, T.A. Inorg.Chem. 2016, 55, 10899-10906.
“Chiral Discrimination by Ionic Liquids: Impact of Ionic Solutes” Brown, C.J.,Hopkins, T.A. Chirality 2015, 27, 320-325.
“Using a Thematic Laboratory-Centered Curriculum to Teach General Chemistry” Hopkins,T.A., Samide, M. J. Chem. Ed. 2013, 90, 1162-1166.
“A Chiroptical Study of Chiral Discrimination by Amino-Acid Based Ionic Liquids” Kroupa,D. M., Brown, C. J., Heckman, L. M., and Hopkins, T. A. J. Phys. Chem. B, 2012, 116, 4952-4958.
- Whitney Professor of Biochemistry, Butler University (2016 – Present)
- Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Butler University (2021 – Present); Associate Professor of Chemistry, Butler University (2015 – 2020); Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Butler University (2009 – 2014)
- Postdoctoral Research Fellow (American Cancer Society Fellow and HHMI Research Associate), Harvard University (2007 – 2009). Research Advisor: Dr. Erin K. O’Shea
- PhD Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2007). Research Advisor: Dr. Ronald T. Raines.
My laboratory is globally interested in serine hydrolases: their structure, function, enzymatic activity, biological activity, and therapeutic potential. Specifically, we are interested in:
- Serine hydrolases from Mycobacterium tuberculosis: role in the basic biology, diagnosis, and treatment of tuberculosis.
- Protein palmitoylation and dynamic control by thioesterases.
- Medically relevant bacterial and human serine hydrolases.
I have an active undergraduate research program with 4 – 10 undergraduate students per semester and 2 – 4 undergraduate students during summer research. Summer research students obtain funding through the Butler Summer Institute (BSI), through internal funding from Butler, and through coverage from external grants from the NSF and NIH. I have mentored students with majors from chemistry to biology to pharmacy and starting from first year students to fourth year students. Students working in my laboratory have continued onto top graduate school programs in biochemistry, molecular biology, chemistry, genetics, and inorganic chemistry, onto top medical and dental schools, and into different chemical and business industry positions.Selected Research Publications: (*Indicates Undergraduate Author)
- Bowles IE,* Pool EH,* Lancaster BS,* Lawson EK,* Savas CP,* Kartje ZJ,* Severinac L,*Cho DH,* Macbeth MR, Johnson RJ, Hoops GC. (2021) Transition metal cation inhibition of Mycobacterium tuberculosis esterase RV0045C. Protein science. 30. p1554.
- Bun JS,* Slack MD,* Schemenauer DE,* Johnson RJ (2020) Comparative analysis of the human serine hydrolase OVCA2 to the model serine hydrolase homolog FSH1from S. cerevisiae. PLOS ONE. 15,e0230166. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0230166.
- Larsen EM, Johnson RJ. (2019) Microbial esterases and ester prodrugs: An unlikely marriage for combating antibiotic resistance. Drug Development Research. https://doi.org/10.1002/ddr.21468. 1-15. Invited Review. Selected for Cover. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/10982299/2019/80/1
- White A,* Koelper A,* Russell A,* Larsen EM, Kim C, Lavis LD, Hoops GC, Johnson RJ (2018) Fluorogenic structure activity library pinpoints molecular variations in the substrate specificity of structurally homologous esterases. Journal ofBiological Chemistry. 293, 13851-13862. doi:10.1074/jbc.RA118.003972
- Bassett B*, Waibel B*, White A*, Hansen H*, Stephens D*, Koelper A*, Larsen EM, LavisLD, Hoops GH, Johnson RJ (2018) Measuring the global substrate specificity of mycobacterial serine hydrolases using a library of fluorogenic ester substrates. ACS Infectious Diseases. 4, 904-911.
- Smith M,* Hart W,* Rabin P,* Johnson RJ (2018) A dynamic loop provides dual control over the catalytic and membrane binding activity of a bacterial serine hydrolase. BBA – Proteins and Proteomics. 1866, 925-932.
- Larsen EM, Stephens D*, Clarke N*, Johnson RJ (2017) Ester-prodrugs of ethambutol control its antibacterial activity and provide rapid screening for mycobacterial hydrolase activity. Bioorganic Medicinal Chemistry Letters. 27, 4544-4547.
- McKary MG*, Abendroth J, Edwards TE, Johnson RJ (2016) Structural basis for the strict substrate selectivity of the mycobacterial hydrolase LipW. Biochemistry. 55, 7099.
- L Lewellyn (PI), C Stobart (Co-PI), C Masamha (Co-PI), J Kowalski (Co-PI), and RJ Johnson (Co-PI).MRI: Acquisition of Spinning Disk Confocal for Multi-Disciplinary Research and Undergraduate Teaching and Training. National Science Foundation. Major Research Instrumentation. Funded 10/1/21 – 9/31/24 for $472,138.
- RJ Johnson. Mycobacterial serine hydrolases and their roles in dormant tuberculosis infection. Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Program. Funded 8/1/18 – 7/31/23 for $60,000.
- RJ Johnson. RUI: Dual regulated control over the catalytic and membrane binding activity of acyl protein thioesterases. National Science Foundation. MCB: Molecular Biophysics. Funded 8/1/18 – 7/31/21 for $250,269
- RJ Johnson. Investigation of mycobacterial hydrolases and their role in lipolysis. National Institutes of Health. NIH R15 Award. May 2015 – April 2018.
- RJ Johnson (PI), J Kowalski (Co-PI), & G Hoops (Co-PI). An integrated series of student-driven, research-based undergraduate laboratory courses linking chemical biology, biochemistry, and neurobiology. National Science Foundation. Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science. May 2012 – April 2015.
- Classroom undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) and inquiry based research laboratories.
- Active classroom learning styles, especially incorporation of scientific skills, active discourse, and argumentation into the classroom.
- Incorporation of new classroom technologies, including molecular visualization laboratories.
- CH361/CH362/CH462: Biochemistry I and II (Amino acids, peptides, proteins, enzymes, carbohydrates, central dogma, signal transduction, metabolism)
- CH463: Biochemistry Lab (Writing intensive, inquiry based laboratory)
- CH432: Synthesis and Characterization (Inquiry based laboratory)
- CH418: Chemistry and the Environment (Chemistry study abroad course)
- CH105/CH106/CH107: Introductory and Advanced Chemistry I and II (Atomic structure, acid/base, kinetics, equilibrium, thermodynamics, and electrochemistry)
- NW210: Chemistry and Society (Introduction to chemistry and the intersection with current issues in society)
Selected Teaching and Learning Publications: (*Indicates Undergraduate)
- Johnson RJ, et al . (2021). Proteopedia entry:Structure of complex membrane proteins solved using cryo-electron microscopy. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education. https://doi.org/10.1002/bmb.21560
- Castro C, Johnson RJ, Kieffer B, Means JA, Taylor A, Telford J, Thompson LK, Sussman JL, Prilusky J, Theis K (2021) A practical guide to teaching with Proteopedia. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education. https://doi.org/10.1002/bmb.21548
- Johnson RJ (2016 )Arsenic based life: an active learning assignment for teaching scientific discourse. Biochem. Mol. Biol. Educ. 40, 40-45.
Kowalski JR, Hoops GC, Johnson RJ (2016) A collaborative series of classroom undergraduate research experiences spanning Biochemistry, Chemical Biology, andNeurobiology. CBE-Life Sciences. 15.4, ar55.
Education: B.S. Chemistry Butler University 1964
M.S. Chemistry University of Illinois 1966
Ph.D.Chemistry University of Illinois 1968
Full Professor of Chemistry,Butler University, September 1981 to Present
John Hume Reade Professorship, Butler University, Fall1993 to Present
Butler Director, Engineering Dual Degree Programs, 1999 to Present
Site Director/Instructor, Advanced Placement High School Teacher Workshop
Program,1991 to 2014
SENCER Fellow, Fall 2008 to Present
Faculty Athletic Representative for Butler University,
Fall 1997 to Present
Associate Provost for Academic Programs, Butler University,
July 2006 to June 2009.
Interim Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,
July 2005 – July 2006
Interim Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,
July 2001 to June 2002
Head of the Department of Chemistry, Butler University,
Fall 1988 to Spring 1999
Associate Professor of Chemistry,Butler University,
September 1974 to September 1981
Assistant Professor of Chemistry,Butler University,
September 1970 to September 1974
Assistant Professor of Chemistry,Fairleigh Dickinson University,
September 1968 to June 1970
Research Interests: Studies of Protein Structure, Solvent interactions with Small Molecules,Peptides and Amino Acid interactions with different solvents, Solute interactions with nanoparticles, and Solute interactions in Ionic Liquids using Infrared Spectroscopy
Teaching: General Chemistry, Non-major Chemistry,Organic Chemistry, and Physical Chemistry
Interests & Hobbies: Tennis, Golf, Cycling, Sailing, Hiking/Fishing, &Motorcycling
Education and Experience
B. S. Biological Sciences, University of Vermont
Ph. D. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Chicago
Post-doctoral associate, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Biochemistry, University of Utah School of Medicine
Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon University
Teaching interests include bringing active learning methods and learning technologies to biochemistry and general chemistry classrooms. In recognition of these efforts I was named a teaching fellow of the National Academy of Sciences 2011-2012. Courses taught:
- The Natural World (general chemical science)
- General Chemistry with laboratory
- Biochemistry with laboratory
- Advanced Biochemistry
- Structural Methods
- Modern Issues in Biochemistry/The Biochemistry of the Covid-19 Vaccines
I’m currently developing the advanced course Chemical Mechanisms in Gene Expression and a structure/mechanism based Enzymology course.
Research interests include: 1) the biochemical analysis of nucleic acid-protein interactions, including the structure and mechanism of RNA modifying enzymes, 2) substrate recognition and activity of microbial esterases, and 3) the role of metal ions in the chemical mechanism and allosteric regulation of enzymes. Research methods employed:
- Kinetic analysis (including synthesis of inhibitors and mutants) of enzymatic activity
- RNA, metal ion, and other ligand binding assays
- X-ray crystallography of nucleic acids and proteins
- Yeast genetics and molecular biology
- Cell biology and cellular imaging
University and Community Service
Learn about the Covid-19 vaccines:
BS Chemistry, Furman University
PhD Chemistry, University of Virginia
Post-doctoral work, Furman University
Faculty at Butler University since 2003.
Associate Dean for Faculty and Program Development in College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
I obtained my BS in medical technology from California University of Pennsylvania in 1993. While working at various health care organizations specializing in pre-transfusion testing, I completed post-baccalaureate courses in chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. In 2001 I transitioned to full time graduate studies at Pitt and obtained my PhD in organic chemistry in 2007.
One of my passions is exposing and inspiring young people to the wonder of science, and I have been involved for over five years in planning and presenting public outreach events related to chemistry and STEM (science technology engineering and math) fields. This involvement has led to my service on the board of directors for a non-profit organization, the Science Education Foundation of Indiana, and as treasurer for the Indiana Section of the American Chemical Society. But the work relted to outreach that I have the greatest pride in is the course, Chemistry in the Community, that I developed and teach at Butler University. This course brings students out into the community and exposes them to the joys and challenges of STEM outreach, potentially inspiring their continued interest in sharing science with others.
Starting in June of 2018, I was appointed to be one of the two pre-health professions advisors at Butler University. This position allows me to work both with students and colleagues to ensure Butler graduates are well prepared to attend graduate and professional programs in the health professions.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Doctorate in Inorganic Chemistry, August 1996.
Research Advisor: Professor Joseph L. Templeton.
Transylvania University, Lexington, KY 40508.
Received BA in Chemistry with minor in Mathematics.
Graduated June of 1991.
Faculty Senate Vice Chair, Spring 2022
Chair, Clowes Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
- July 2018 – December 2019
- January 2008 to May 2014
- Fall 2006
Use of copper hydride catalysts for controlled addition toketones
Creating connections amongst undergraduate syntheticexperiences
Transforming glycerol into a chemical feedstock throughgreen chemistry
General Chemistry 1 and 2: required course forchemistry, biology and other science majors.
Inorganic Chemistry andAdvanced Inorganic Chemistry: two one-semester courses dealing with all aspects ofinorganic chemistry from periodic trends to organometallic catalysts.
Inorganic ChemistryLaboratory and Synthesis and Characterization: advancedlabs focusing on the synthesis of metal complexes and their application toorganic transformations.
Chemistry and Society: general requirement course designed for non-sciencemajors with an emphasis on the role of chemistry in current issues.
Organometallics: advanced special topics course coveringtransition metal organometallic species from theory to applications in organicsynthesis.
Organic ChemistryLaboratory 1 and 2: laboratory to component toOrganic Chemistry lecture. Lab designedto focus on basic synthetic techniques and build connections between lecturecontent and laboratory experiments.
After teaching at Indiana University for 2 years as a visiting Assistant Professor, Michael made the move north in August 2000 to begin teaching analytical and general chemistry at Butler. Mike’s current interests are focused on the intersection of chemistry and art conservation science. Since 2014, Mike has partnered with the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields to perform research on materials used for the storage and display of artwork. Mike also teaches courses on chemistry and art that incorporate short-term faculty led study abroad experiences so that students can see how culture and history impact the topic.
B.S. Chemistry and Mathematics, North Dakota StateUniversity
M.S. Chemistry, University of Chicago
Ph.D. Chemistry, University of Chicago
Post Doctoral Associate – Department of Chemistry, University of Minnesota
I am a theoretical chemist – my research group does our work using only computers. We develop and apply new algorithms and methodologies to a variety of interesting problems in chemistry. My research focuses on the study of chemical processes in which strong electron correlation plays an important role. My research goals are as follows:
- Develop new methodologies to target areas of strong electron correlation using both wave function and density functional techniques.
- Work towards a more “black box” treatment of strong correlation
- Study how strong correlation affects carbene chemistry
- Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry Safety Committee, Co-chair
- Certified Chemical Hygiene Officer
- NAOSMM Safety Committee, Chair
- National Association of Scientific Materials Managers – NAOSMM Safety
Dr. Anne M.Wilson graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in chemistry and obtained a PhD. from the University of Utah with Frederick West and Richard Ernst. After a post-doctoral research position with Marie Krafft at Florida State University, she took a position at Butler University in 1996. Her research with undergraduates is in the area of small molecule synthesis, organometallic synthesis, food and flavor chemistry, historical dyes, use of databases to categorize research in a microgravity environment, and women in science.