Faculty Research Lightning Talks: Meet Chris Gulgas

The UCBA Library’s 3rd Annual Faculty Research Lightning Talks on March 10, 2020 featured four presenters and their discipline-based research projects via short, 15 minute presentations. In our Meet the Presenters series, each presenter shares some insights into their research project. 

Chris Gulgas| Associate Professor of Chemistry| ChemistryDepartment
Presentation: A Student Discovery Involving a Chemical that Changes Color Leads to a New Organic Laboratory Experiment

Chris Gulgas giving a presentation

Chris Gulgas discusses his research.


Research Project
A new organic laboratory experiment was designed and developed based upon the independent research of two undergraduate students investigating solvatochromism.  Bromothymol blue was found to exhibit a significant red shift across a series of solvents.  An organic laboratory experiment was then created to allow students to discover this effect as a class using UV-Vis absorption spectroscopy.  Students built skills in recognizing functional groups and intermolecular interactions as well as analyzing data trends.  The undergraduate research process, design of the experiment and results from the first year of implementation into the curriculum were presented. 

Gulgas powerpoint slide

A slide from Chris’ A Student Discovery Involving a Chemical that Changes Color Leads to a New Organic Laboratory Experiment presentation. 

What excites you most about your research?
I am most excited about student-driven discovery that can be developed into something useful for learning.  Students were able to identify an unpublished property of a substance we had on hand, using equipment on hand.  This discovery turned into an experiment for all organic laboratory students to benefit from in learning about solvent properties and the nature of light. 

What are your next steps with your research?
I’d like to identify another compound that exhibits similar behavior for comparison and reinforcement. 

Additional Resources 

Reichardt, Christian (1994). Solvatochromic Dyes as Solvent Polarity Indicators. Chemical Reviews. 94 (8). 2319-2358. 


 by Lauren Wahman