Falk School of Sustainability
Faculty and Staff
Joseph MacNeil Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Chemistry, Interim MS Biology Program Director
Hometown : New Kensington, PA
Joined Chatham : 1997
Academic Areas of Interest
chemical pedagogy, bioremediation, semiconductors, solvothermal synthesis, X-ray crystallography
I completed an undergraduate degree in chemistry at St. Francis Xavier University in 1988 before moving on to a Ph.D. (organometallic chemistry) at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. In 1993 I moved to San Diego to begin a post-doctoral research program studying environmental and mechanistic aspects of nitrogen oxides (NOx). I have been at Chatham since 1997, and am now an associate professor in our chemistry program. I teach both semesters of general chemistry, as well as upper-level courses in inorganic and instrumental analysis. I also teach the scholars section of our general education science each year.
My research encompasses three distinct foci: chemical pedagogy, environmental remediation and synthesis of novel semiconductors. We are constantly working to keep our teaching labs current and relevant to today's students, and many of our original ideas have been incorporated into research articles and published in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Chemical Education. These new labs focus on ways to incorporate more active student involvement in all stages of the learning process, through an approach called inquiry-based learning.
Part of Chatham’s mission embraces the study and stewardship of the environment around us, and this deeply-embedded cultural value was the genesis of my phytoremediation research. There are over 400 plant species well-documented to thrive on metal-contaminated soils that are toxic to most other plants. Phytoremediation is an effort to apply this knowledge in a practical way by using these plants to extract the metals from the soil, effectively straining out the toxins while leaving the remaining soil healthy and safe. In our labs, we have been focusing on ways to help sunflowers remove more cadmium from contaminated soil and water. This is a favorite project for students to work on; to date, 10 students have done senior research studies on this topic, and there is still lots more to do.
While on sabbatical during the 2009-10 academic year, I began a collaboration with Dr. Jennifer Aitken at Duquesne University. In this project, we are synthesizing and characterizing new forms semiconductors that have potential applications from solar cells to lasers to the rapidly developing field of spintronics. Dr. Aitken is well-known for her work in diamond-like semiconductors, and in her labs I learned the keys to high temperature solid state synthesis using both direct combination and flux approaches. Now I am working on preparing an analogous class of compounds with a lower temperature solvothermal approach. My first tutorial student on this project will present her work in the spring of 2011.
- B. Sc. St. Francis Xavier University (Antigonish, NS) 1988
- Ph.D. Queen's University (Kingston, Ontario) 1993
- Post-Doctoral Study, UC San Diego, 1994-1997
- Journal of Alloys and Compounds (2013) Brunetta, C.D.; Brant, J.A.; Rosmus, K.A.; Henline, K.M.; Karey, E.; MacNeil, J.H. ; Aitken, J.A.
- J. Chem. Educ. (2012) "Mushroom Magic: Analysis of Metals in a Familiar Food" MacNeil, J., Gess, S, Gray, M, McGuirk, M and McMullen, S.
- J. Acta Cryst. (2011) "Bis[2,2'-(2-aminoethylimido)di(ethylammonium)] hexasulfidodistannate(IV)" Karey, E. , Rosmus, K.A., Aitken, J.A., MacNeil, J.
- Chemosphere (2011) "The impact of EDTA on the rate of accumulation and root / shoot partitioning of cadmium in mature dwarf sunflowers Meighan, M., Fenus, T., Karey, E., MacNeil, J.
- J. Chem. Educ.(2010) "When Learning the Hard Way Makes Learning Easy: Building Better Lab Note-taking Skills" MacNeil, J. & Falconer, R.
- J. Chem. Educ. (2008) "Determining the Solubility Product of Fe(OH)3 : An Equilibrium Study with Environmental Significance" Meighan, M. , Falconer, R. & MacNeil, J.
- Irene Heinz Given Associate Professor of Chemistry (2004-2007)
- Pittsburgh Regional Undergraduate Leadership Excellence Award (2011)
- Joseph MacNeil, Maike Blakely, Rebecca Thoma and Heather Hunter "Solvothermal snytheses of first-row transition metal complexes using the template-directing ligand tris(2-aminoethyl)amine (tren)" 96th Canadian Chemistry Conference, (Quebec City, Canada) May 26-30, 2013.
- Joseph MacNeil "Determining levels of multiple heavy metals in mushrooms" 96th Canadian Chemistry Conference, (Quebec City, Canada) May 26-30, 2013.
- Joseph MacNeil, Heather Hunter**, Emma Karey**, Rebecca Thoma**, Kimberly Rosmus, Jennifer A Aitken Solvothermal synthesis of thiostannate complexes using the template directing ligand tris(2-aminoethyl)amine (tren) 244th ACS National Meeting (Philadelphia, PA) August 2012.
- Jacilynn A. Brant, Balamurugan Karuppannan, Jinlei Yao, Carl D. Brunetta, Beth M. Leverett, Joseph MacNeil, Jennifer A. Aitken Advancements in crystal growth and characterization of novel I2 II IV VI4 diamond-like semiconductors . 244th American Chemical Society Annual National Meeting (Philadelphia, PA) August 2012.
- J. MacNeil Determining levels of multiple metals in wild and cultivated mushrooms 243rd American Chemical Society Annual National Meeting (San Diego, CA) March 2012.
- 4. Solvothermal Synthesis and physical characterization of the series [M(tren)]2Sn2S6 R. Thoma**, H. Hunter**, J. Aitken, J. MacNeil, 243rd American Chemical Society Annual National Meeting (San Diego, CA) March 2012.Solvothermal Synthesis and physical characterization of the series [M(tren)]2Sn2S6 243rd American Chemical Society Annual National Meeting (San Diego, CA) March 2012.
- D. Massi**, K. Rosmus, T. Gentile**, C. Burnetta, J. MacNeil, J. Aitken, Crystal structure, optical band gap and thermal analysis of thio-lithium super ionic conductors, 243rd American Chemical Society Annual National Meeting (San Diego, CA) March 2012.
- J. MacNeil, J. Aitken, E. Karey**, H. Hunter**, D. Massi**, K. Daley**, T. Gentile** Synthesis and Characterization of Novel Chalcogenide Materials 241st American Chemical Society Annual National Meeting (Anaheim, CA) March 2011.
- K. Daley**, J. MacNeil, J. Aitken Synthesis, Structure and Physiochemical characterization of Quaternary Diamond-like Semiconductors 241st American Chemical Society Annual National Meeting (Anaheim, CA) March 2011.
- D. Massi**, K. Rosmus, T. Gentile**, J. MacNeil, J. Aitken Synthesis, Structure, and Ion Conductivity of Li4GeS4, Li4SnS4, and Li2SnS3, 241st American Chemical Society Annual National Meeting (Anaheim, CA) March 2011.
- Hunter**, E. Karey**, J. Aitken, J. MacNeil. Solvothermal Synthesis of novel materials based on the Tris(2-aminoethyl)amine (tren) Ligand H. 241st American Chemical Society Annual National Meeting (Anaheim, CA) March 2011.
- J. MacNeil & R. Falconer "When Learning the Hard Way Makes Learning Easy: Building Better Lab Note-taking Skills" 239th American Chemical Society Annual National Meeting (San Francisco, CA) March 2010
- Emma Karey**, Joseph MacNeil, Beth Leverett, Jonathan Lekse, Jennifer Aitken "Synthesis and Characterization of Lithium-containing Quaternary Diamond-like Semiconductors" . 239th American Chemical Society Annual National Meeting, (San Francisco, CA) March 2010
- E. Karey, J. MacNeil, M. Meighan and L. Zigmond "Hydroponic and Soil-Based Models to Evaluate the Impact of Plant Maturity on the Phytoremediation of Cadmium by Dwarf Sunflowers" 30th SETAC North American Annual Meeting (New Orleans, LA) Nov 2009