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



Office: HAC406

Office: HAC 406
Lab: ​HAC 404

Fall 2023 Office Hours: TBD



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 pairs of vibrational reporters  (azides, nitriles, and selenocyanates) to measure the distance between them via vibrational coupling observed by 2D IR spectroscopy.
  2. The design and synthesis of air-stable, water-soluble organic radicals such as polarizing agents for dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP).  A related project seeks to synthesize bowl-shaped hydrocarbons.
  3. The history of organic chemistry.
  4. Molecular knots.  
  5. Collaborative work to prepare GM3 synthase to help Amish children.

Research Collaborations:

     Nucleic Acid Probes
Dr. Scott Brewer
     Dr. Matthew Tucker
     Dr. Ronald Micura
     Dr. Alex MacKerell

     History of Organic Chemistry
     Dr. Brian Myers


Grants & Awards


Brewer, S. H.; Fenlon E. E. Investigating Protein and RNA Structure and Dynamics with Vibrational Reporters. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of General Medical Sciences: Academic Research Enhancement Award,  June 2019 through June 2023. $425,256.

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.


(Undergraduate student coauthors are in bold.)

Lee, B. L.; Papoutsis, B. M.; Wong, N. Y.; Piacentini, J.; Kearney, C.; Huggins, N. A.; Cruz, N.; Ng, T. T.; Hao, K. H.; Kramer, J. S.; Fenlon, E. E.; Nerenberg, P. S.; Phillips-Piro, C. M.; Brewer, S. H. Unraveling Complex Local Protein Environments with 4-Cyano-L-phenylalanine. Journal of Physical Chemistry B2022126, 8957-8969.

Fenlon, E. E. Double, double trefoil and trouble. Nature Synth. 2022, 1, 586-587. doi.org/10.1038/s44160-022-00103-7

Margolis, E. A.; Keyes, R. J.; Lockey, S. D., IV; Fenlon, E. E. Design and Synthesis of a Bis-macrocyclic Host and Guests as Building Blocks for Small Molecular Knots. Beilstein J. Org. Chem., 2020, 16, 2314-2321.

Chalyavi, F.; Schmitz, A.; Fetto, N. R.; Tucker, M. J.; Brewer, S.; Fenlon, E. E. Extending the Vibrational Lifetime of Azides with Heavy Atoms. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phs., 2020, 22, 18007-18013.

Chalyavi, F.; Adeyiga, O.; Weiner, J.; Monzy, J.; Schmitz, A.; Nguyen, J.; Fenlon, E. E.; Brewer, S.; Odoh, S.; Tucker, M. J. 2D-IR Studies of Cyanamide (NCN) as a Spectroscopic Reporter of Dynamics in Biomolecules: Uncovering the Origin of Mysterious Peaks. Journal of Chemical Physics, 2020, 152, 074201.

Schmitz, A. J.; Pandey, H. D.; Chalyavi, F.; Shi, T.; Fenlon, E. E.; Brewer, S. H.; Leitner, D. M.; Tucker, M. J. Tuning Molecular Vibrational Energy Flow within an Aromatic Scaffold via Anharmonic Coupling. Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 2019, 123, 10571-10581.

Luo, M.; Eaton, C. N.; Hess, K. R.; Phillips-Piro, C. M.; Brewer, S. H.; Fenlon, E. E. Paired Spectroscopic and Crystallographic Studies of Proteases. Chemistry Select, 2019, 4, 9836-9843.

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 211/212 - Organic Chemistry I and II
Chem 323 - Medicinal Chemistry
​CNX 230 - Mars & Venus on the Pill


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