John Sowa, Ph.D.

  Full Professor
  708-235-7513 ext. 7513
  Office Location: F2320
  Office Hours:


  College: CAS

Chemistry Education - Certificate
Chemistry - Minor
Chemistry - Bachelor of Science
Analytical Chemistry - Master of Science


 Areas of expertise: Organic chemistry, catalysis, asymmetric catalysis, analytical and environmental chemistry.


I am interested in guiding students at the undergraduate and graduate level in the process of scientific research. This includes learning technical skills of organic synthesis, use of state-of-art instrumentation for characterization of molecules and quantitation of chemical and environmental impurities. I am also interested in developing career skills for the students whom I mentor. These include networking, volunteering, creative and artistic thinking, and refining oral and written communication skills. To achieve engage these interests, I develop projects that match students interest and needs for professional development. The projects range from organic synthesis to environmental chemistry and they cover basic and applied research and collaborations with local industry.

Projects in my research group:

- Synthesis and spectroscopic characterization of organic compounds containing Naproxen as a chiral auxiliary;

- Quantitative measurement of heavy metal environmental impurities including Fe, Pb and Ag;

- Applications of the Polyol Induced Extraction or PIE process for separation of water from organic solvents for purposes of recycling the solvents and isolation of natural products.

Recent Publications:

(1)   Asymmetric Transfer Hydrogenation of Secondary Allylic Alcohols, Shoola, C. O., DelMastro, T., Wu R.-Q., Sowa Jr., J. R. Eur. J. Org. Chem., 2015, 1670-1673; http://dx.doi:10.1002/ejoc.201500075.

(2)   Detection of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHS) in Raw Menhaden Fish Oil Using Fluorescence Spectroscopy: Method Development, Pena, E. A., Ridley, L. M., Murphy, W. R., Sowa, J. R., Bentivegna, C. S. Environ. Toxicol. Chem., 2015, 34(9), 1946-1958;

(3)   Special Issue: Metal Hydrides, J. R. Norton, J. R. Sowa, Guest Eds., Chem. Rev., 2016, 116, 8315 – 9000;

(4)   Polyol-induced extraction of water from organic liquids, U.S. Patent: 9,545,583, Sowa Jr., J. R., Murphy, W. R., Deshpande, M., January 17, 2017;

(5)   Polyol-induced partitioning of essential oils in water/acetonitrile solvent mixtures, DelMastro, T., Snow, N. H., Murphy, W. R., Sowa, J. R. J. Liq. Chromatogr. Rel. Technol., 2017, 40(7), 376-383;

(6)   Polyol-induced extraction of water from organic liquids, U.S. Patent: 9,950,276, Sowa Jr., J. R., Murphy, W. R., Deshpande, M., April 24, 2018 (Note: this is  a continuation of U.S. 9,545,583);

(7)   Quantitative Analysis of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons at Part Per Billion Levels in Fish Oil by Headspace Solid-phase Microextraction and Gas Chromatography-mass spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC-MS), Snow, N., Chopra, S., Ridley, L., Murphy, W, Sowa, J., Bentivegna, C. J. Chromatogr. Sci., 2018, in press.


                  I teach the following courses:

Introduction to Organic and Biological Chemistry (Chem 1113/1114). This is a lecture laboratory course that is specifically tailored for students pursuing degrees in the allied health sciences such as nursing and community health. I am also developing an on-line version of this lecture and laboratory course.

Organic Chemistry Laboratory (Chem 3532). This laboratory course supports the lecture course in organic chemistry by providing hands-on application of the concepts that are taught in the lecture with the aim in enhancing students understanding of concepts in organic chemistry and developing their laboratory skills.

  Spectroscopic Characterization (Chem 6743/6744). This is a graduate level lecture and laboratory course where students are assigned a set of unknown compounds. They learn how to drive state-of-art instruments in the department (FT-IR, GC-MS, LC-MS, NMR, FT-IR and UV-Vis) improve their understanding of spectroscopy to solve the structures of the unknowns.




B.S. in Chemistry, Manhattan College, Bronx NY (1986)

Ph.D. in Chemistry, Iowa State University, Ames IA (1991)

Prior appointments

University of Minnesota (1991 – 1994, Postdoctoral Associate)

Seton Hall University (1994 – 2014, Assistant, Associate & Professor, Associate Dean, Associate Chair)

Sabbatical appointments: University of Hull, UK (2000); Merck & Co., Inc. (2001); Wuhan University, Wuhan, China (2009)

Gibraltar Laboratories, Fairfield, NJ (1998 – 2014, consultant; 2014, Associate Scientific Director)

The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla CA (2015, Visiting Scientist)

Membership in Professional Organizations

American Association for the Advancement of Science

American Chemical Society

Sigma Xi, Scientific Research Honor Society

Chicago Catalysis Club

Homewood Science Center, Volunteer and Member, Board of Directors

See full curriculum vitae here.