Dr. James Phillips, Ph.D. ("he/him/his")
- General chemistry: CHEM 115
- Physical chemistry: CHEM 433, CHEM 434, CHEM 438
- Environmental chemistry: CHEM 127, CHEM 304
- Independent study: CHEM 497/499
Research and Creative Activities
Structural and Energetic Properties of Molecular Complexes: The main interest of the Phillips group is to identify and characterize “molecular complexes”, which are associations of two otherwise stable molecules (or simply, “two molecules stuck together”). We are specifically interested in identifying those that undergo substantial changes in structure in response to a change in their chemical environment (gas phase vs. solution, vs. solid state). One example of this type of behavior is a "gas-solid structure difference"; when a complex has a different structure in its gaseous state than when it exists as bulk material as a solid. Some molecular complexes show extreme sensitivity to their environment, and undergo significant structural changes in solution, or even in solidified inert gases: neon, argon, and nitrogen. The main tools of our research are low-temperature (4-20 K) infrared spectroscopy, which allows us to detect structural changes in inert, bulk, solid samples, and computer models, which enable us to explore gas-phase structures and understand the underlying mechanistic features that lead to this behavior. To date, this research program has been supported by over $1.5 million in external grant funds, and has led to 25 peer-reviewed journal articles (with 58 UWEC student co-authors), and 75 off-campus student conference presentations.
Recent Grants: 15 external grants for a total of over $1.5M in funds for research, in addition to numerous internal grants awarded by UWEC’s Office or Research and Sponsored Programs.
“RUI: Condensed-Phase Effects on the Structural and Energetic Properties of Nitrogen Donor – SOx Complexes”; NSF-RUI-Chemistry, 9/1/22 to 8/30/25, ($313,276).
RUI: Continued Studies of Condensed-Phase Effects on the Structural Properties of Molecular Complexes”; NSF-RUI-Chemistry, NSF-RUI-Chemistry, 9/1/16 - 8/31/22, ($246,592, plus $22,055 in supplemental funds).
“RUI: Continued Studies of Condensed-Phase Effects on the Structural Properties of Molecular Complexes”; NSF-RUI-Chemistry, 9/1/16 - 8/31/22, ($246,592, plus $22,055 in supplemental funds).
“Continued Studies of the Structure, Bonding, and Energetic Properties Friedel-Crafts Intermediates: RF–BF3”; Petroleum Research Fund-Type UR, 1/1/13 - 8/31/17, ($65,000).
“RUI: Continued Studies of Condensed-Phase Structural Effects in Complexes of BCl3 and Group IV Lewis Acids”; NSF-RUI-Chemistry, 7/1/12 - 1/30/17, ($227,330).
- Postdoctoral Work: University of Colorado (Physical and Atmospheric Chemistry)
NOAA Postdoctoral Fellowship in Climate and Global Change
Advisor: Dr. Veronica Vaida
- Ph.D., University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (Physical Chemistry)
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Kenneth Leopold
- B.A., Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT (Chemistry, Music Composition)
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Sunhee Choi
Principle author of 25 peer-reviewed articles as PI since 1998 (35 in total), with 58 UWEC student co-author citations.
(* designates UWEC undergraduate co-authors)
- “Matrix Effects on Hydrogen Bonding and Proton Transfer in Fluoropyridine - HCl Complexes”;
C. Soares,*, A. R. Ley,* C.B. Zehner,* P.W. Treacy,*, J.A. Phillips Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2022, 24, 2371.
- “Structural and Energetic Properties of OC–BX3 Complexes: Unrealized Potential for Bond-Stretch Isomerism”;
J.A. Munos*, D. T. Lowney*, J.A. Phillips, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2021, 23, 14678.
- “Structural and Energetic Properties of RMX3-NH3 Complexes”, J.A. Phillips, A.R. Ley*, P.W. Treacy*, B.M. Wahl*,
B.C. Zehner*, K.J. Donald, and S. Gillespie, Int. J. Quantum Chem. 2020; e26383.
- “Modeling Reaction Energies and Exploring Noble Gas Chemistry in the Physical Chemistry Laboratory”, J.A. Phillips, in, “Using Computations to Teach Chemical Concepts”, ACS Monograph Series, ACS Publications, 2019.
- “On the Interactions of Nitriles and Fluoro-Substituted Pyridines with Silicon Tetrafluoride: Computations and Thin Film IR Spectroscopy”, N.J. Hora,* B.M. Wahl,* C. Soares,* S.A. Lara,* J.R. Lanska,* and J.A. Phillips,
J. Molec. Struct. 2018, 1157, 679.
- “Structural and Energetic Properties of Haloacetonitrile–BCl3 Complexes: Computations and Matrix-IR Spectroscopy”;
J.A. Phillips, S.J. Danforth,* N.J. Hora,* J.R. Lanska,* and A.W. Waller,* J. Phys. Chem. A 2017, 121, 9252–9261.
- “Structural and Energetic Properties of Nitrile – BX3 Complexes: Substituent Effects and their Impact on Condensed-Phase Sensitivity”; J.A. Phillips, Theor. Chem Accts. (Feature Article) 2017, 136(1):16.
- “Structural and Energetic Properties of Haloacetonitrile – GeF4 Complexes”; A.W. Waller,* N.M. Weiss,* D.A. Decato, and J.A. Phillips, J Mol. Struct. 2017,1130, 984.
Honors and Recognitions
2020 ChemCUR Outstanding Mentorship Award, CUR Chemistry Council
2019, 2013, 1999 Voted “Professor of the Year” by UWEC Chemistry Students
2015 Excellence in Mentoring Research, Scholarship, or Creative Activity Award, UWEC
2013 Career Teaching Excellence Award, UWEC College of Arts & Sciences
2004 - 2009 Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar, Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation
2004 Technology for Innovation in Education (TIE) Fellowship, UWEC - TLTDC
2003 Outstanding Student Organization Advisor Award Nominee, UWEC
2001 Inducted as Honorary Member of Golden Key Honor Society
1996 - 1998 NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship
1995 Overend Award, Chemistry Department, University of Minnesota
1995 Rao Prize, The Ohio State International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy
1991 - 1992 Graduate Fellowship, Chemistry Department, University of Minnesota
1991 Outstanding Senior Chemistry Major Certificate, American Institute of Chemists
1991 Highest Honors thesis designation, Department of Chemistry, Middlebury College
M.E.R.C.U.R.Y. Consortium member (2012 - present); Executive Board (2020 - present)
Council on Undergraduate Research (2010 - present)
American Chemical Society (1995 - present)
Member of ACS Physical Chemistry (PH21) Examination Committee (2017 - 2021).