Margaret Kerr
Margaret Kerr
Faculty Member's Office
Office Hours:
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Areas of Expertise

Faculty Bio:



  • B.S. Chemistry, University of Maine. Orono, Maine
  • Ph.D. Inorganic Chemistry, Wesleyan University. Middletown, Connecticut.



  • Postdoctoral Research, University of Florida. Gainesville, Florida
  • Senior Staff Research and Development Chemist, Fina Oil and Chemical. Houston, Texas

Research Interests

My research is focused on the development of a library of antibacterial agents to help
combat the global issue of antibiotic resistance. We are working to develop
novel antibiotics by identifying groups of compounds that have demonstrated
antibacterial activity and to further functionalize them to increase their activity. We
have chosen compounds referred to as imines, or Schiff bases, to explore. These
have been shown to be biologically active and are present in many biological
systems and have been identified as having potential antifungal, antibacterial,
antimalarial, and antiviral properties. We found a synthesis that allowed us to
create imines using the microwave in under two minutes, using water as a
solvent. This is a considerably greener way to form imines than is traditionally
done and has allowed us to synthesize molecules with ease. Imines are excellent
ligands and coordinate with a variety of metals. The coordination of metals to
imine type ligands can result in different three-dimensional geometries, which
has been associated with higher clinical success rates. We are using metals
found in biological systems such as zinc, iron and copper in order to reduce
potential toxicity. Once the organic and inorganic syntheses are completed, we
collaborate with faculty in the biology department to run assays to determine
the antibacterial activity of the molecules.


  1. Cultivating Student Research Interests in Undergraduate Organic Chemistry Lab Course Through Class Activity Sydney Demers, Joshua Fung-A-Fat, Jeremy Andreatta, Margaret E. Kerr, and Weichu Xu. Journal of Chemical Education special issue “New visions for teaching chemistry laboratory”, 2022, DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.2c00366
  2. Hybrid teaching in the organic chemistry laboratory as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Han Quynh Nguyen, Nhu Le, Emily Doran, Emma Polak, Jeremy Andreatta, Margaret Kerr, Wei-Chu Xu. Currents in Teaching and Learning, 2022, 14(1), 47-54.
  3. “An electrochemical sensor for the voltammetric determination of artemisinin based on carbon materials and cobalt phthalocyanine.” Chulalak Damphathik, Preeyanut Butmee, Kanjana Kunpatee, Kurt Kalcher, Astrid Ortner, Margaret Kerr, Juthamas Jitcharoen, Anchalee Samphao. Microchimica Acta (2022) 189:224
  4. “Enzymatic electrochemical biosensor for glyphosate detection based on acid phosphatase inhibition.” Butmee, Preeyanut; Tumcharern, Gamolwan; Songsiriritthigul, Chomphunuch; Durand, Marie Jose; Thouand, Gerald; Kerr, Margaret; Kalcher, Kurt; Samphao, Anchalee. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry (2021), 413(23), 5859-5869.
  5. “A portable selective electrochemical sensor amplified with Fe3O4@Au-cysteamine-thymine acetic acid as conductive mediator for determination of mercuric ion.” Butmee, Preeyanut; Mala, Jittra; Damphathik, Chulalak; Kunpatee, Kanjana; Tumcharern, Gamolwan; Kerr, Margaret; Mehmeti, Eda; Raber, Georg; Kalcher, Kurt; Samphao, Anchalee. Talanta (2021), 221, 121669.
  6. “Synthesis and photodimerization of monoalkyloxy-4-methylcoumarins: substitution effect on the rate of photodimerization.” Thamrongsak Cheewawisuttichai, Lalita Khamkaew, Supawan Tantayanon, Margaret E. Kerr, Ong-art Thanetnit. Chiang Mai Journal of Science, 2018, 45(6), 2397-2408.
  7. Dilip, Meghna; Kerr, Margaret E. “Greening the Curriculum: Traditional and Online Offerings for Science and Nonscience Majors.” InSustainable Green Chemistry, Mark A. Benvenuto (Ed.); Green Chemical Processing Series; Walter de Gruyter GmbH: Berlin/Boston, 2017; Volume 1, 103-115.
  8. “Non-Directed, Carbonate-Mediated C-H Activation and Aerobic C-H Oxygenation with Cp*Ir Catalysts.” M.E. Kerr, I. Ahmed, A. Gunay, N.J. Venditto, F. Zhu, E. Ison, M.H. Dalton Transactions, 2016, 45, 9942-9947, DOI: 10.1039/C6DT00234J.
  9. Dilip, M. & Kerr, M. (2016). “Greening the Curriculum: Traditional and Online Offerings for Science and Nonscience Majors.”Physical Sciences Reviews, 1(10). DOI:10.1515/psr-2016-0078.
  10. “Atom Economy”, essay and chapter problems, in “Chemistry for Changing Times”, J. Hill, 14th Prentice Hall Publications, 2014.
  11. “Atom Economy”, essay and chapter problems, in “Chemistry for Changing Times”, J. Hill, 13th Prentice Hall Publications, 2012.
  12. Margaret E. Kerr, David M. Brown. Chapter 2: Using Green Chemistry to Enhance Faculty Professional Development Opportunities. In Green Chemistry Education: Changing the Course of Chemistry, Paul T. Anastas, Irvin J. Levy, Kathryn E. Parent, Editors. American Chemical Society Symposium Series No. 10011, Oxford University Press, April 2009. ISBN 978-0-8412-7447-1.
  13. “Atom Economy”, essay, in “Chemistry for Changing Times”, J. Hill, 12th Prentice Hall Publications, 2008.
  14. “Green Chemistry Education”, Invited Article, Chemistry in Malaysia, Newsletter for the Malaysian Chemical Society, September 2008.
  15. “Green Chemistry and Sustainable Development”, Invited Article, Maejo International Journal of Science and Technology, 2007, 01(02), 95-97.
  16. “Atom Economy”, Media Lab, in “Chemistry for Changing Times”, J. Hill, D. Kolb, 11th Prentice Hall Publications, 2006.
  17. “Supported Metallocene Catalysts”, Gauthier, W.J., Kerr, M.E., Tian, J., Rauscher, D.J., Patrick, C., Henry, S., United States Patent 6,855,783. Issued 2/15/2005.
  18. “Method for the Preparation of Metallocene Catalysts.” Gauthier, W.J., Lopez, M, Rauscher, D.J., Kerr, M.E., Campbell, D.J. United States Patent 6,777,366. Issued 8/17/04.
  19. “Hydride and Proton Transfer Reactions of Niobium-Bound Ligands. Synthetic and Thermodynamic Studies of Ketene, Enacyl and Vinylketene Complexes.” Margaret E. Kerr, Niladri Sarker, Azzam Hneihen, Gail Schulte, Joseph W. Bruno. Organometallics 2000, 19, 901-912.
  20. “Bimetallic Pt/Ru Complexes as Catalysts for the Electrooxidation of Methanol.” Mark E. Tess, Pamela L. Hill, Karen E. Torraca, Margaret E. Kerr, Khalil A. Abboud, Lisa McElwee-White. Chem. 2000, 39, 3942-3944.
  21. “Synthesis and Reactivity of Niobium-Vinylketene Complexes Exhibiting Ketene h 2-C,O Complexation.” Margaret E. Kerr and Joseph W. Bruno. Am. Chem. Soc. 1997, 119, 3183-3184.
  22. “Effects of the Niobium(V) Center on the Energetics of Ligand-Centered Proton and Hydrogen Atom Transfer Reactions in Acyl and Alkoxide Complexes.” Margaret E. Kerr, Xian-Man Zhang, and Joseph W. Bruno.  Organometallics 1997, 16, 3249-3251.
  23. “Electrophilic Attack on the Carbon Terminus of a Niobium-Bound Formaldehyde Ligand.” B. Thiyagarajan, Margaret E. Kerr, John C. Bollinger, Victor G. Young, Jr., and Joseph W. Bruno. Organometallics 1997, 16, 1331-1334.
  24. “Luminescence Studies on Substituted Niobocene Ketene Complexes: Evidence for Thermally-Activated Excited State Processes Involving Arene Torsion.” Margaret E. Kerr, Maria C. Fermin, and Joseph W. Bruno. J. Chem. Soc., Chem. Commun., 1996, 1221.
  25. “Autoxidation of an Electron-Rich Organometallic. Mechanism of the Reaction of a Substituted Niobocene Compound with Dioxygen.” B. Thiyagarajan, Margaret E. Kerr, and Joseph W. Bruno. Chem. 1995, 34, 3444-3452.
  26. “Synthesis, Structure and Electronic Spectroscopy of Neutral, Dinuclear Gold(I)-Gold(I) Interactions in Solution and Solid State.” Ratnavathany Narayanaswamy, Michelle Young, Erica Parkhurst, Michelle Oulette, Margaret E. Kerr, Douglas M. Ho, Richard L. Elder, Alice E. Bruce, and Mitchell R.M. Bruce. Chem. 1993, 32, 2506-2517.
  27. “Insight into Formation and Reactivity of Molybdenum (0) Bent Nitrenes. Crystal Structure of a Phosphine-Phosphoranimine Chelate.” A. Saravanamuthu, D.M. Ho, M.E. Kerr, C. Fitzgerald, M.R.M. Bruce, and A.E. Bruce. Inorg Chem. 1993, 32, 2202-2206.


University of Florida
Postdoctoral Fellow
Wesleyan University
University of Maine