• Image taken during Professor Edward Fenlon's chemistry class in Hackman 405.
Professor of Chemistry, Department Chair of Chemistry



Office: HAC301A

Office: HAC 301A
Lab: ​HAC 404




Link to Fenlon CV


B.S. St. Lawrence University, 1990
Ph.D. University of Illinois, 1995


We use organic synthesis to build molecules for practical purposes. Research projects involve: 

  1. The synthesis of nucleotides and proteins with vibrational reporters such as azides, nitriles, and selenocyanates to monitor electrostatic environments and solvent dynamics by IR spectroscopy.
  2. The design and synthesis of air-stable, water-soluble organic radicals such as polarizing agents for dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP). 
  3. The history of organic chemistry.
  4. Molecular knots.  
  5. Collaborative work to synthesize ganglioside GM3 to help Amish children.

Research Collaborations:

     Nucleic Acid Probes
Dr. Scott Brewer
     Dr. Matthew Tucker
     Dr. Christopher Cheatum
     Dr. Steven Corcelli 
     Dr. Alex MacKerell

     History of Organic Chemistry
     Dr. Brian Myers

Fenlon Group Members:

     Photographs of recent Fenlon group members can be seen here.

     Information on past and present Fenlon group members can be seen here.

Grants & Awards

National Institute of Health R01 Award (R01GM051501-18A1) to Alexander MacKerell (PI, University of Maryland, Baltimore). Subaward to F&M (Edward Fenlon, Scott Brewer), 7/1/17-6/30/19.

NIH AREA grant - "Investigating Protein Hydration and Structure with Azide Probes." 2014 to 2017. $272,300.

NIH grant - "Development and Application of Multi-Spectroscopic, Site-Specific (MS3) Probes of Nucleic Acid Structure."  June 2010 through May 2013.  $195,895.


Last Decade
(Undergraduate student coauthor are in bold.)

Schmitz, A. J.; Hogle, D. G.; Gai, X. S.; Fenlon, E. E.; Brewer, S. H.; Tucker, M. J. Two-Dimensional Infrared Study of Vibrational Coupling between Azide and Nitrile Reporters in a RNA Nucleoside. Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 2016, 120, 9387-9394.

Levin, D. E.; Schmitz, A. J.; Hines, S. H.Hines, K. J.; Tucker, M. J.; Brewer, S. H.; Fenlon, E. E. Synthesis and Evaluation of the Sensitivity and Vibrational Lifetimes of Thiocyanate and Selenocyanate Infrared Reporters. RSC Advances 2016, 6, 36231-36237. 

Tookmanian, E. M.; Philips-Piro, C. M.; Fenlon, E. E.; Brewer, S. H. Azidoethoxyphenylalanine as a Vibrational Reporter and Click Chemistry Partner in Proteins. Chem. Eur. J. 201521, 19096-19103.

Tookmanian, E. M.; Fenlon, E. E.; Brewer, S. H. Synthesis and protein incorporation of azido-modified unnatural amino acids. RSC Advances 2015, 5, 1274-1281.

Fenlon, E. E.; Myers, B. J. Profiles in Chemistry: A Historical Perspective on the National Organic Symposium,  Journal of Organic Chemistry 2013, 78, 5817-5831.

Lipkin, J.S.; Song, R.; Fenlon, E.E.; Brewer, S.H. Modulating Accidental Fermi Resonance: What a Difference a Neutron Makes. Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 201121672-1676.

Gai, X.S.; Coutifaris, B.A.; Brewer, S.H.; Fenlon, E.E. A Direct Comparison of Azide and Nitrile Vibrational Probes. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 2011, 13, 5926-5930.

Tucker, M.J.; Gai, X.S.; Fenlon, E.E.; Brewer, S.H.; Hochstrasser, R.M. 2D IR Photon Echo of Azido-Probes for Biomolecular Dynamics.Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 201113, 2237-2241.

Gillies, A.T.; Gai, X.S.; Buckwalter, B.L.; Fenlon, E.E.; Brewer, S.H. 15N NMR Studies of a Nitrile-Modified Nucleoside. Journal of Physical Chemistry B 2010114, 17136-17141.

Fenlon, E.E. Tying Up Some Loose Ends. Nat. Chem. 2010, 2, 156-157.

Gai, X.S.; Brewer, S.H.; Fenlon, E.E. A Sensitive Multispectroscopic Probe for Nucleic Acids. J. Phys. Chem. B 2010, 113, 7958-7966.

Watson, M. D.; Gai, X. S.; Gillies, A. T.; Brewer, S. H.; Fenlon, E. E. A Vibrational Probe for Local Nucleic Acid Environments: 5-Cyano-2-deoxyuridine. J. Phys. Chem. B 2008, 112, 13188-13192.

Fenlon, E. E. Open Problems in Chemical Topology. Eur. J. Org. Chem. 2008, 5023-5035.

Fenlon, E. E.; Ito, B. R. The Thread & Cut Method: Syntheses of Molecular Knot Precursors. Eur. J. Org. Chem. 2008, 3065-3068.

Silverman, L. N.; Pitzer, M. E.; Ankomah, P. O.; Boxer, S. C.; Fenlon, E. E.. Vibrational Stark Effect Probes for Nucleic Acids. J. Phys. Chem. B 2007 111, 11611-11613.

Course Information

Dr. Edward Fenlon teaches the following courses:

Chem 112 - General Chemistry II
Chem 211/212 - Organic Chemistry I and II
Chem 323 - Medicinal Chemistry

FND 182 - Pills, Pills, Pills
​CNX 230 - Mars & Venus on the Pill

In the News 

Story 10/15/2014

Science Faculty Secure Vital Funding in Competitive Grant...

At a time when federal grants are becoming increasingly scarce, four Franklin & Marshall science professors each have been awarded funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for...

Read More