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Our People

Full-Time Faculty

P.J. Ball

P.J. Ball, Senior Lecturer

Office: SC 454 / Phone: (859) 572-6960

Dr. P. J. Ball joined the department in the fall of 2005 in a lecturer's position. She received her B.S. from the University of Cincinnati and her Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati in 2005. She consistently receives among the highest ratings in the university on her student evaluations.

Charlisa Daniels

Charlisa Daniels, Assistant Professor

Office: SC 446 / Phone: (859) 572-5408

Dr. Charlisa Daniels joined the chemistry faculty at NKU in 2014. She received her B.A. from Agnes Scott College in 2005. She went on to earn her Ph.D. from Rice University in 2012, focusing on physical chemistry and materials research. She then completed a teaching postdoctoral position at Trinity University (TX). Dr. Daniels’ teaching responsibilities include courses in the physical and general chemistry curriculum.  

Grant Edwards

Grant Edwards, Senior Lecturer

Office: SC 443 / Phone: (859) 572-5407

Dr. Grant Edwards completed his B.S. at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., where he completed two academic years of research and augmented his research experience with two summer positions at Texas A&M University. He then completed his Ph.D. at Iowa State University in 2006 before joining NKU as the Director of Instrument Facilities.

John Farrar

John Farrar, Associate Professor

Office: SC 453 / Phone: (859) 572-7636

After five years as Science Department Head at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Georgia, Dr. John Farrar came to NKU in 2013 and served for two years as the Director of the Center for Integrative Natural Science and Mathematics (CINSAM) before joining our department full time in 2015. Dr. Farrar is a 1992 graduate in chemistry from Western Kentucky University and received the Ph.D. in organic materials chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 2001. Prior to NKU, he taught for fourteen years at institutions in Indiana and Georgia. Dr. Farrar’s current interests are in the improvement of STEM education at all levels, P-16. He is particularly interested in active, student-centered learning and technology tools for improving teaching and learning.

Gwen Fields

Gwen Fields, Senior Lecturer

Office: SC 442 / Phone: (859) 572-6681

Gwen Fields received her B.S. in chemistry from Thomas More College in 1991 and her M.S. from the University of Cincinnati in 1993. She is one of the department's most versatile lecturers, having taught nearly every course offered in the curriculum. She typically teaches both organic and general chemistry.

Kebede Gemene

Kebede Gemene, Assistant Professor

Office: SC 447 / Phone: (859) 572-7543

Dr. Kebede L. Gemene received his B. Sc. from Asmara University, Eritrea in 1988 and his M.Sc. from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia in 1997. He worked as a high school chemistry teacher and as a lecturer of chemistry before pursuing his study for PhD. He received his PhD from Purdue University in 2008 and worked as a postdoctoral associate at the University of Michigan for three years before joining NKU as an assistant professor of chemistry in fall 2011.  His primary teaching responsibilities are in Analytical and General Chemistry.

Michael Guy

Michael Guy, Assistant Professor

Office: SC 445 / Phone: (859) 572-6552

Dr. Michael P. Guy received his B.S. in Chemistry from Utah State University in 2002, and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008.  Following a short postdoctoral appointment at Mayo Clinic, he completed several years of postdoctoral training at the University of Rochester.  Dr. Guy joined NKU as an assistant professor in 2015, where he teaches Biochemistry lecture and lab, as well as courses in General Chemistry.

Patrick Hare

Patrick Hare, Associate Professor

Office: SC 348 / (859) 572-1928 

Since August 2008 Dr. Patrick M. Hare has taught general and physical chemistry at NKU. He received his B.A. in chemistry in 2001 from Case Western Reserve University followed by a Ph. D. from The Ohio State University in 2007 where he used ultrafast laser spectroscopy to study nucleic acids. Prior to arriving at NKU, Hare was a postdoctoral associate at the University of Notre Dame Radiation Laboratory. He won the NKU Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in 2013.

Isabelle Lagadic

Isabelle Lagadic, Associate Professor

Office: SC 449 / (859) 572-7785 

Dr. Isabelle Lagadic joined the department in August 2007. She received her doctorate in 1994 from the Universite of Paris-Sud (Orsay, France). She taught at both Oklahoma State University and the University of Connecticut and also worked for Nanoscale Materials, Inc., a start-up company located in Kansas. She teaches general chemistry lecture and lab and inorganic chemistry.

Lili Ma

Lili Ma, Associate Professor

Office: SC 448 / (859) 572-6961 

Dr. Lili Ma received her B.S. (1999) and M.S. (2002) from Nanjing University (China) and her Ph.D. (2007) from Brown University. After two years of postdoctoral research at the University of Texas Medical Branch, she joined the chemistry department at NKU in August 2009. She teaches organic chemistry lecture and lab.

Amber Onorato

Amber Onorato, Assistant Professor and

Dorothy Westerman Herrmann Endowed Professor in Science

Office: SC 349 / (859) 572-5733

Dr. Amber J. Onorato received her B.S. from Southern Connecticut State University in 2003 and her Ph.D. In organic chemistry from the University of Connecticut in 2008 under the mentorship of Dr. Michael B. Smith.  She then spent 3 years as a postdoctoral associate at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry.  Before joining NKU, Dr. Onorato taught at the College of Saint Benedict | St. John's University for 2 years.  Her primary teaching responsibilities include organic lecture and lab.

Laura Padolik

Laura Padolik, Senior Lecturer

Office: SC 451 / (859) 572-6113

Dr. Laura Padolik began teaching at NKU in 1993 after doing postdoctoral work at the University of Cincinnati. She received her B.S. from St. Louis University in 1985 and her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 1990. Although she mostly teaches general chemistry lecture and lab, she also teaches introduction to chemistry and chemistry and society.

Chad Ruschman, Lecturer

Office: SC 351  / (859) 572-6354


Betty Russell

Betty Russell, Lecturer

Office: SC 450  / (859) 572-1956

Dr. Beatriz Russell received her M.S. from Boston University in 2002 and her Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 2009 where she also completed three years of a postdoctoral fellowship.  She teaches general chemistry lab and biochemistry lab.

K. C. Russell

K. C. Russell, Associate Professor

Office: SC 350 / (859) 572-6110

Dr. K. C. Russell received his B.S. at Oregon State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. He then traveled to Strasbourg, France, to work under the tutelage of 1987 Nobel Laureate Jean-Marie Lehn. Russell returned to the U.S. to work as a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University and began his academic career in 1995 at the University of Miami (Florida). Russell joined the faculty at NKU in 2001 and received the Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in 2004. He teaches organic chemistry, chemistry seminar and advanced organic chemistry.

Brad Sieve

Brad Sieve, Senior Lecturer

Office: SC 452  / (859) 572-6547 

Dr. Brad Sieve obtained his Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 2002 and completed a postdoctoral position at Iowa State University and Ames Laboratory. Sieve teaches general chemistry, physiological chemistry, organic chemistry, introduction to chemistry and chemistry and society.

Keith Walters

Keith Walters, Associate Professor and Chair

Office: SC 204G / (859) 572-5409

Dr. Keith Walters came to NKU in 2002 after a two-year postdoctoral position at Northwestern University. He received his B.S. from Furman University in 1996 and his Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 2000. Walters teaches general chemistry, history of chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organometallic chemistry and materials chemistry. He received the NKU Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in 2007.

Part-Time Faculty

Dick Bloss

Dick Bloss

Office: SC 322  / (859) 572-6360

In 2007, Dick Bloss began his 25th year of teaching part time for the department. He was previously employed as a research chemist and data processing specialist with a local industrial chemical company and worked as an information technology manager for Fifth Third Processing Solutions. He received his B.S. (1977) and M.S. (1979) from Ball State University and has done additional graduate work at the University of Colorado.

Christa Currie

Office: SC 322  / (859) 572-6360

Markus Eilers

Office: SC 322 / (859)-5432

Stuart Oehrle

Stuart Oehrle

Office: SC 341 / (859) 572-6671


Stuart Oehrle is a senior field chemist for Waters with more than 17 years of tenure there. He is the lab manager of the Waters field lab located at NKU, where he is also a part-time instructor in  chemistry.

Patrick Slonecker

Office: SC 322 / (859) 572-5432

Emeritus Faculty

Vern Hicks

Vern Hicks, Professor Emeritus


In 1972, Vern Hicks began his career as NKU’s first and only Physical Chemist and remained as such until his retirement in 2010.  In addition to Physical Chemistry, Vern also taught general chemistry, chemistry and society, introduction to chemistry and his beloved quantum mechanics.  He received his B.S. in 1965 from Emory and Henry College and his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt in 1974. Hicks was named 2008 Cincinnati Chemist of the Year by the Cincinnati section of the American Chemical Society. His other honors include: NKU Outstanding Professor Award in 1993, the KSTA Outstanding Science Teacher Award for Post-Secondary Teachers in 2000, and the prestigious Acorn Award in 2010.

Robert Kempton

Robert Kempton, Regents Professor Emeritus


Following two years as a postdoctoral student at University of Illinois, Dr. Robert Kempton started teaching organic chemistry at NKU in 1976. He received his Ph.D. from Fordham University in 1975, M.S. from Auburn in 1969 and B.S. from St. Peter's College in 1966. Kempton has been the leader in establishing undergraduate research on campus and still works with students. He taught organic chemistry, spectroscopy and advanced organic synthesis and received the honor of Regents Professor in 1993.

Vinay Kumar

Vinay Kumar, Professor Emeritus


Dr. Vinay Kumar began teaching general chemistry in the fall 1970 and holds the distinction of being the first chemistry faculty hired by NKU (then Northern Kentucky State College). Kumar received his M.S. from State University of New York at Oswego in 1967 and his Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati in 1970. Kumar taught analytical chemistry, instrumental analysis, chemistry and society and introduction to chemistry.

James Niewahner

James Niewahner, Professor Emeritus


Dr. Jim Niewahner began his career at NKU in 1970 as an academic counselor and financial aid officer after receiving his Ph.D. from Colorado State University. He taught mostly general chemistry in addition to organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physiological chemistry and chemistry and society. 

William Oliver

William Oliver, Professor Emeritus and ACS Fellow


Dr. Bill Oliver joined NKU in 1972.  He earned his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at Iowa State University in 1969 and worked at Procter and Gamble three years before moving to Northern.  He taught organic chemistry, general chemistry, biochemistry, physical organic chemistry, physiological chemistry, and chemistry and society.  He became the first chair of the chemistry department when it was formed in 1988 and served 16 years in that position.  He retired in 2007.

Staff Members

Julia Yang Bedell

Julia Yang Bedell, Academic Advisor

Office: SC203C / (859) 572-5388

Julia Bedell began teaching for the department in 1992 as a full-time lecturer. After six years she progressed to a permanent lecturer position and served in this capacity until going part-time in 2003. Bedell received her B.A. (1985) and M.S. (1987) from Duke University. In 1988, she became interested in chemical education, obtained a chemistry teacher’s certification and taught at the secondary level.

Katie Lovold

Katie Lovold, Academic Coordinator

Office: SC 204F / (859) 572-5409

Katie Lovold started working at NKU in the registrars office in 2008. In May of 2013 she began working in the chemistry office as the academic coordinator.

Kris Mason

Kris Mason, Stockroom/ Laboratory Manager

Office: SC 441 / (859)  572-6669 

Kris Mason started working at NKU in August of 2006. Prior to coming to NKU, she was employed as the quality control supervisor for Univar USA Inc. and technical director of Green Industries. Her first job after graduating with a B.S. from Michigan State University was for Duramed Pharmaceuticals.  

Jim Wilkinson

Jim Wilkinson, Freshman Lab Coordinator

Office SC 441 / (859) 572-6669 

Jim Wilkinson joined the department in December of 2008.  Prior to NKU, he worked at the College of Mount Saint Joseph where he was subject tutor for Project Excel for seven years.  He received his B.S. degree in chemistry with a math minor from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois and his M.S. degree in chemistry from the University of Minnesota.