Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry


Organic Chemistry



First Advisor

Matthew Kiesewetter


There are a number of environmental issues that are proving to have strong effects on local populations. Chief among them is the growing concentration of contaminants in seawater, of which there are limited ways to detect in a consumer-friendly way. Contaminants such as nitrite and phosphate have strong adverse effects on aquatic life, including algal blooms and observed hypoxia in fish. The main work presented in this dissertation discusses some ways to leverage organic chemistry to develop materials to help combat these contaminants. Chapter 2 discusses the design of a novel monomer and investigates its ability to polymerize under ring-opening polymerization conditions. Subsequently, it was incorporated within a copolymer system, which was then selectively modified post-polymerization. This highlights the system's ability to be functionalized for specific materials. Chapter 3 discusses findings resulting from the development of an N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) system, where a series of NHCs has been shown to etch gold on solid substrates in various solvents. This work highlights the potential for adverse effects while designing these materials.Another environmental issues that has recently become notable is the ongoing parasite problems that honeybee hives face. In particular, Varroa destructor is proving to harbor substantial long-term health effects on hives due to increased resistance of common synthetic pesticides. Organic acids, and oxalic acid in particular, have long been used as effective pesticides, though the mechanism of action of oxalic acid has been debated. Chapter 4 details the investigation of oxalic acid under some of those fumigation conditions, and through instrumental analyses it is seen that oxalic acid can break down under these conditions. This work highlights the need for larger scale hive studies to determine effective dosages and to determine what is the active compound of these treatments.

Available for download on Friday, September 05, 2025