Furman University Department of Chemistry
John F. Wheeler

John F. Wheeler


B.S., Georgetown College
Ph.D., University of Cincinnati

Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar (2000-2005)
Email: john.wheeler@furman.edu
Phone: (864) 294-3371

Faculty Research Interests:

Research in our labs involves applying analytical chemistry to a diverse group of chemical problems. Students intending to pursue advanced degrees in analytical, physical, environmental or biochemistry, the health sciences, forensics, or entering directly into the workplace will benefit from the research experiences encountered in these applications.

Chiral Separations/ TM-DNA Binding Investigations

Over the past several years our group (in collaboration with Professor Kane-Maguire's group) has become very interested in the interaction of certain transition metal (TM) complexes that bind strongly to DNA and exhibit the potential to behave as anti-cancer agents when excited by light (i.e., photocleavage agents). In some of our earliest studies, we noted that the chirality inherent in the DNA double helix was sufficiently unique to permit enantiomeric analysis of TM complexes (i.e., Λ and Δ isomers) using a separations technique known as capillary electrophoresis (CE). As a result, in the recent past several publications have resulted from our efforts to develop new methods for separating chiral TM systems using DNA (e.g., Jim Schaeper, Lori Nelsen 2003-2004) or other, more conventional chiral resolving agents such as antimonyl-d-tartrate and sulfonated β and γ-cyclodextrins (e.g., Ruth McNees, Susan Bailey, Brad Herbert, 2004-2005). In addition to demonstrating stereospecificity in DNA binding, work in our labs has recently provided considerable evidence and detail for the site and mode of DNA interaction for Cr(diimine)33+ compounds in particular. Numerous bioanalytical techniques are routinely used to study the binding behavior of these complexes with DNA, including CE, HPLC with mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS), emission and UV-Vis absorption spectroscopy, circular dichroism (CD), equilibrium dialysis (Alyson Shupe, Joe Watson, Jane Daniel, Jennifer McCabe, Sandy Wheeler, 2004-2005) and most recently isothermal titration calorimetry (Scott Vandiver, Andrew Abbott, 2004-2005). We have also initiated studies involving covalent adduct formation between our Cr(III) systems and DNA as characterized by LC-ESI-MS, a technique that permits analysis of intact duplex DNA oligomers with molecular weights on the order of 10,000 daltons (Rebekah Potts, Scott Vandiver, 2004-2005).

Pollutant and Nutrient Loading Impacts on Upstate South Carolina Watersheds

A requisite part of the environmental chemistry degree option is chemical research with an environmental emphasis; moreover, any student with a potential career interest in the ever-expanding environmental sector should have applied research experience with practical environmental issues. For the past several years the EES, biology, and chemistry departments have participated in a broad interdisciplinary collaboration at Furman investigating and characterizing pristine and urban watersheds and the extent of human impacts in the Enoree and Saluda Rivers, which comprise part of the Lower Broad River Basin in Upstate South Carolina. Chemistry majors, EES and Biology majors, and students from other national universities and Puerto Rico form multidisciplinary research teams supervised by faculty members representing all three disciplines to perform land use/land cover analysis including sophisticated GIS mapping as well as hydrological, chemical and biological testing of water samples acquired throughout the Upstate. In addition to serving as members of the overall project team and carrying out sampling, mapping, etc., specific student projects may include analysis for metal cations using high temperature sources such as inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) and mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) (Holly Garrett, Floyd Stanley, 2003-2005), GC-MS and/or LC-MS may be used as screening approaches for organic pollutants of concern such as potential endocrine disruptors (Kristin Ammay, 2005), antibiotics (Jennifer McCabe, 2005) and volatile organic hydrocarbons (Brad Casanova, 2003).