Chemistry Dept


Tara Kishbaugh
Department Chair

Dr. Kishbaugh earned a B.S. in chemistry from Wheaton College and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Dartmouth College where she studied the reactions of electron deficient indoles. While in graduate school, she taught Organic Chemistry for a year at St. Michael’s College, Winooski, Vermont. Before coming to EMU, she was a Dreyfus Teaching Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Massachusetts. During her post-doctoral position, she explored approaches to fluorinated allenes. She brings a background of significant research, publications and presentation with special concern for integrating faith and scientific study. Tara’s chemistry-related hobbies include photography, baking, and tie-dying. Tara’s research interests include chemical education, heterocyclic chemistry, and water quality studies.

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, with the Mennonite Central Committee, a relief and development organization of the Mennonite Churches. 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, Sustainable Agriculture)

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’s research is in collaboration with students and focuses on issues of environmental toxicology and monitoring. Currently he is working on two projects: 1) assessing pesticides in market vegetables using a novel combination of techniques, and 2) water monitoring in a local watershed. Also, he periodically monitors arsenic in clay used for ceramic drinking filters from Southeast Asia.

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.

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


John Spicher
Chemical Hygiene Officer

John is the Chemical Hygiene Officer for the Chemistry and Biology Department and the Mammalian Anatomy Laboratory Instructor. He also has oversight responsibility for the greenhouse and the arboretum and supervises Biology and Chemistry work-study students. John has 30 years of experience as a safety engineer for Westinghouse Science and Technology Center and is a Certified Safety Professional. He holds a BS in Biology from EMU an MS in Organizational Leadership from Geneva College and has taken graduate courses in toxicology, anatomy and physiology.

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