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Patrick Barber
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Patrick Barber is exploring heavy-metal sensing in the environment using luminescent lanthanide ion complexes and remediation of those heavy metals using sustainable waste materials such as lobster shells or corn husks.

As a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Alabama, Patrick’s interests included the fields of ionic liquids, green chemistry, actinide chemistry and biomass.

Contact Info

Campus Mail
Drawer 8



237 Stanley Hall

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Open door policy

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  • Chemistry


  • Ph.D, University of Nevada, Reno
  • B.S., University of West Florida
  • B.A., University of West Florida

Selected Courses:

ESEM150 Sustainable Energy

CHEM 331 Equilibrium and Analysis

CHEM 341 Thermodynamics and Kinetics

The two primary focuses of the Barber Research Group are 1.) the design, development, and application of luminescent materials for imaging in environmental and biological systems and 2.) the development of advanced materials from under-utilized waste resources.  I believe the research lab is the ideal location to use the knowledge learned in the classroom and get students excited about chemistry.

  1. Interest in the design, development, and application of luminescent lanthanide ion complexes for imaging in environmental and biological systems stems from having molecular-level control and hoping to understand the macro-scale properties of our resulting materials. This breaks down into designing and making new molecules (some of which have never existed!), studying those molecules using spectroscopy (a technique that uses light for understanding how those molecules behave), and then using or redesigning the molecules for more favorable behavior after careful assessment.
  2. Interest in developing a sustainable pathway for the extraction of chitin for advanced material preparation using ionic liquids comes from knowledge of a new class of solvents, ionic liquids. Ionic liquids are a new class of low toxicity solvents that have shown to be useful for the extraction of highly insoluble materials such as cellulose and chitin. Only recently have ionic liquids been applied to this process and results have been remarkable. While this technique is possible, there’s very little understanding or optimization of the process. Our group intends to gain a molecular understanding of the current state-of-the-art extraction procedure of chitin from waste lobster shells using ionic liquids resulting in an optimized process that will push the technique beyond the laboratory. This means we have to grind up waste lobster shells, dissolve them in ionic liquids, and precipitate the chitin.  Studying this chitin afterward and adjusting the parameters of the extraction will help us gain access to this highly valuable and sustainable material.

Patrick received his Bachelor of Science in chemistry and Bachelor of Arts in piano performance from the University of West Florida in 2007. There his research interests were developed through the study of organic synthesis methodology with Professor Michael Huggins and piano and harpsichord with Professor Hedi Salanki.

In 2011, he completed his doctorate at the University of Nevada, Reno and was mentored by Professor Ana de Bettencourt-Dias on the sensitization of luminescent lanthanide ion complexes for use in lighting and bioprobe applications. From there, Patrick’s research interests expanded to the fields of ionic liquids, green chemistry, biomass, and actinide chemistry working with Professor Robin Rogers at the University of Alabama as a post-doctoral researcher.

At Earlham College, he is exploring heavy-metal sensing in the environment using luminescent lanthanide ion complexes and remediation of those heavy metals using sustainable waste materials such as lobster shells or corn husks.

Peer-reviewed Publications

23. Pereira, J. F. B.; Barber, P. S.; Kelley, S. P.; Berton, P.; Rogers, R. D. Double salt ionic liquids based on 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate and hydroxyl-functionalized ammonium acetates: strong effects of weak interactions. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2017, 19(39), 26934‑26943.

22. Shamshina, J.; Barber, P. S.; Gurau, G.; Griggs, C. S.; Rogers, R. D. Pulping of Crustacean Waste using Ionic Liquids: To Extract or Not to Extract. ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., 2016, 4(11), 6072‑6081.

21. Griggs, C. S.; Barber, P. S.; Kelley, S. P.; Moser, R. D.; Seiter, J. M.; Thomas, C. C.; Coleman, J. G.; Medina, V. F.; Rogers, R. D. Biomimetic Mineralization of Uranium by Metabolically-Inactive Shrimp Shell. Cryst. Growth Des. 2014, 14, 6172–6176.

20. Kelley, S. P.; Barber, P. S.; Mullins, P. H. K.; Rogers, R. D. Structural Clues to UO22+/VO2+ Competition in Seawater Extraction Using Amidoxime-Based Extractants. Chem. Commun. 2014, 50, 12504–12507.

19. de Bettencourt-Dias, A.; Barber, P. S.; Viswanathan, S. Aromatic N-Donor Ligands As Chelators And Sensitizers Of Lanthanide Ion Emission. Coord. Chem. Rev. 2014, 273‑274, 165– 200.

18. McCrary, P. D.; Barber, P. S.; Kelley, S. P.; Rogers, R. D. Nonaborane and Decaborane Cluster Anions Can Enhance the Ignition Delay in Hypergolic Ionic Liquids and Induce Hypergolicity in Molecular Solvents. Inorg. Chem. 2014, 53, 4770–4776.

17. McCrary, P. D.; Chatel, G.; Alaniz, S. A.; Cojocaru, O. A.; Beasley, P. A.; Flores, L. A.; Kelley, S. P.; Barber, P. S.; Rogers, R. D. Evaluating Ionic Liquids as Hypergolic Fuels: Exploring Reactivity from Molecular Structure. Energy Fuels, 2014, 28(5), 3460–3473.

16. Barber, P. S.; Kelley, S. P.; Griggs, C. S.; Wallace, S.; Rogers, R. D. Surface Modification of Ionic Liquid-Spun Chitin Fibers for the Extraction of Uranium from Seawater: Seeking the Strength of Chitin and the Chemical Functionality of Chitosan. Green Chem. 2014, 16, 1828–1836.

15. Barber, P. S.; Griggs, C. S.; Gurau, G.; Liu, Z.; Li, S.; Li, Z.; Lu, X.; Zhang, S.; Rogers, R. D. Coagulation of Chitin and Cellulose from 1-Ethyl-3-methylimidazolium Acetate Ionic-Liquid Solutions Using Carbon Dioxide. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2013, 52, 12350–12353.

14. Shamshina, J.; Barber, P. S.; Rogers, R. Ionic Liquids in Drug Delivery. Expert Opin. Drug Discovery 2013, 10(10), 1367-1381.

13. Barber, P. S.; Shamshina, J. L.; Rogers, R. D. A “green” industrial revolution: Using chitin towards transformative technologies. Pure Appl. Chem. 2013, 85, 1693–1701.

12. McCrary, P. D.; Beasley, P. A.; Gurau, G.; Narita, A.; Barber, P. S.; Cojocaru, O. A.; Rogers, R. D. Drug specific, tuning of an ionic liquid’s hydrophilic–lipophilic balance to improve water solubility of poorly soluble active pharmaceutical ingredients. New J. Chem. 2013, 2196–2202.

11. Cojocaru, O. A.; Bica, K.; Gurau, G.; Narita, A.; McCrary, P. D.; Shamshina, J. L.; Barber, P. S.; Rogers, R. D. Prodrug ionic liquids: functionalizing neutral active pharmaceutical ingredients to take advantage of the ionic liquid form. Med. Chem. Comm. 2013, 4, 559–563.

10. Lu, W.; Barber, P. S.; Kelley, S. P.; Rogers, R. D. Coordination and extraction of mercury(II) with an ionic liquid-based thione extractant. Dalton Trans., 2013, 42, 12908–12916.

9.   Barber, P. S.; Griggs, C. S.; Bonner, J. R.; Rogers, R. D. Electrospinning of Chitin Nanofibers Directly from an Ionic Liquid Extract of Shrimp Shells. Green Chem. 2013, 15, 601–607.

8.   de Bettencourt-Dias, A.; Barber, P. S.; Bauer, S. A water-soluble Pybox derivative and its highly luminescent lanthanide ion complexes. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 6987–94.

7.   Barber, P. S.; Kelley, S. P.; Rogers, R. D. Highly selective extraction of the uranyl ion with hydrophobic amidoxime-functionalized ionic liquids via η2 coordination. RSC Adv. 2012, 2, 8526–8530.

6.   Barber, P. S.; de Bettencourt-Dias, A. Diaqua-tris-[4,4,4-trifluoro-3-oxo-1-(thio-phen-2-yl)but-1-en-1-olato]neodymium(III) acetonitrile monosolvate. Acta Cryst. 2011, E67, m1188–9.

5.   Barber, P. S.; Bettencourt-Dias, A. de An Uncommon Hexafluorosilicate Salt of the Bis(diethylamino)difluorosulfonium Cation Displaying Extensive Hydrogen Bonding. J. Chem. Crystallogr. 2011, 41, 902–907.

4.   de Bettencourt-Dias, A.; Barber, P. S.; Viswanathan, S.; de Lill, D. T.; Rollett, A.; Ling, G.; Altun, S. Para-derivatized pybox ligands as sensitizers in highly luminescent Ln(III) complexes. Inorg. Chem. 2010, 49, 8848–61.

3.   de Bettencourt-Dias, A.; Barber, P. S. An oxazoline derivatized Pybox ligand for Eu(III) and Tb(III) sensitization. C.R. Chim. 2010, 13, 691–699.

2.   Huggins, M. T.; Butler, T.; Barber, P. S.; Hunt, J. Synthesis and molecular recognition studies of pyrrole sulfonamides. Chem. Commun.2009, 5254–6.

1.   Huggins, M. T.; Barber, P. S.; Florian, D.; Howton, W. Short, Efficient Syntheses of Pyrrole α-Amides. Synth. Commun. 2008, 38, 4226–4239.


3.   Barber, P.S.; Griggs, C. S.;Rogers, R. D.;Gurau, G.;Shamshina, J.;"Chemical Pulping Of Chitinous Biomass For Chitin" United States Patent Application 20160060363 March 3, 2016

2.   Rogers, R. D.; Barber, P. S.; Griggs, C. S.; Gurau, G.; Lu, X; Zhang, S. "Coagulation of Chitin from Solutions of Crustacean Shells in Ionic Liquids using Super-Critical CO2" International Application Number PCT/IB2014/058981, International Publication Number WO 2014/125438 A1, August 21, 2014, US Patent 9,663,589. May 30, 2017.

1.   Swatloski, R. P.; Barber, P. S.; Opichka, T.; Bonner, J. R.; Gurau, G.; Griggs, C. S.; Rogers, R. D. "Process for electrospinning chitin fibers from chitinous biomass solution and fibers and articles produced thereby," International Application Number PCT/US2013/051764, International Publication Number WO 2014/018586 A1, January 30, 2014, US Patent 9,683,309. June 20, 2017

American Chemical Society

I teach at Earlham College because I’m fascinated with the interaction of natural sciences and the liberal arts. Students engage more when everyday examples are brought into the classroom, and their learning is more fully developed when courses, even across disciplines, can be connected in the classroom. Earlham is not only an excellent liberal arts college but also one that pushes faculty and students to engage deeply and broadly.

Earlham students are diverse in every sense of the word.

I love cooking and eating with friends and family, hiking with my wife, Kate, and our two rescue dogs, and watching comically bad movies.

I enjoy reading, cooking, listening to music, and playing the piano.