Chemistry Dept


Stephen Cessna
Professor of Biochemistry

Steve received his BA in chemistry and biochemistry in Colorado in 1991 and then taught middle school math and science in Lesotho in southern Africa. After returning to the US in 1995, getting married and moving to Indiana, Steve finished a PhD degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2000. His graduate research included genetically altering tobacco plants so that they express a gene from a bioluminescent jellyfish. Cellular calcium concentrations and hydrogen peroxide could then be easily measured in these glow-in-the-dark plants. At EMU, Steve continues this research, involving EMU students in the study of oxidation/anti-oxidation in plant stress, with applications in sustainable agriculture and invasive species ecology. Steve teaches courses in biochemistry, chemistry, and sustainable agriculture.

Dr. Cessna’s research interests include:
- Developing and assessing multiple min-research projects for use in teaching labs
- Developing and assessing strategies for teaching the nature of science and higher order cognitive skills
- Comparing antioxidants in blueberries grown in different soil types and conditions
- Comparing photosynthesis and growth of various native and invasive vine species
- Testing gardening techniques in terms of their impacts on produce yield and nutritional quality

Doug Graber Neufeld

Click here for Research and Course Webpages

Dr. Graber Neufeld is Professor of Biology. He works primarily with the Environmental Sustainability program at EMU, with a concentration in issues that relate to environmental monitoring and toxicology. He teaches in the introductory biology course, Concepts in Biology, and in a variety of courses related to environmental issues (such as Environmental Toxicology, Natural History of the Shenandoah Valley). He has a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in environmental physiology, and worked at the University of Arizona and the University of Otago (New Zealand) before coming to EMU. He served a two year term with Mennonite Central Committee in Cambodia, were he worked on environmental issues through the Royal University of Agriculture and the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Doug lives in Harrisonburg with his wife, Cristina, and two young sons, Alex and Evan. They enjoy many outdoors activities, and take as many opportunities as possible to go camping and traveling.

Doug’s current research is in collaboration with students and includes projects:
- water monitoring assessing stream health in a local watershed, and the effects of stream restoration
- baseline water monitoring in an area that was proposed as a hydrofracking site
- assessing pesticides in market vegetables using a novel combination of techniques, and
- using zebrafish startle response as a sensitive toxicity indicator

Tara Kishbaugh
Professor & Department Chair

Dr. Tara L.S. Kishbaugh obtained her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Wheaton College and her graduate degree in organic chemistry studying the reactivity of electron deficient indoles at Dartmouth College under the mentorship of Gordon W. Gribble. During graduate school, she spent a year teaching organic chemistry at St. Michael’s College, Winooski, Vermont. Afterwards, she was a Dreyfus postdoctoral fellow at the University of Massachusetts, North Dartmouth campus. During this position, she taught as well as studied fluorinated allenes. At EMU, Tara has taught a variety of courses, including organic, general, medicinal, and environmental chemistry as well as seminars on ethics, land use, and food chemistry. Since 2013, she is chair of the biology and chemistry departments. Tara has been involved in a number of trans-disciplinary projects on campus, such as EMU Common Reads, a common reading and associated programming. Tara’s chemistry-related hobbies include photography, baking, and tie-dying. Tara’s research interests include chemical education, heterocyclic chemistry, and water quality studies.

Dr. Kishbaugh’s research interests include
- Chemical education projects, such as assessing non-content learning in laboratory research projects, or
- Assessing student familiarity with and understanding of green chemistry, or
- Improving student’s engagement with math coursework by adding contextual relevance to the assignments
- Writing review chapters on heterocyclic chemistry- in particular indoles and pyridines
- Water quality monitoring in the local watershed related to bacterial contamination, run-off or hydrofracking.

Matthew Siderhurst
Associate Professor

Dr. Siderhurst earned a B.A. in chemistry and molecular biology from Goshen College and a Ph.D. in Entomology from Colorado State University. After receiving his degree, Dr. Siderhurst held a postdoctoral research associate position with the USDA-ARS-PBARC in Hilo, Hawai’i, working to identify attractants for several economically important invasive insects. Current research projects include chemical ecology of invasive insect pests in Hawaii, Australia, and Guam. Teaching experience throughout his academic career has lead Dr. Siderhurst to value education as a lifelong process, which especially lends itself to the small institution setting with its small class sizes, close student-professor interactions, and undergraduate-centered research.

Adjunct Faculty


Brinton Domangue
Lab Coordinator
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