Gerard Harbison


Educational Background
Fellow of the Max-Planck Society, Max-Planck-Institut fur Polymerforschung
Postdoctoral, Harvard Medical School
Ph.D. Harvard University
B.A. Trinity College

Research Interests
Computational Chemistry, NMR Spectroscopy

Harbison Research Group
Current Research | Publications

Gerard Harbison
Hamilton Hall 723

Current Research
In the Harbison group we do NMR (solution and solids), quantum chemistry, inelastic neutron scattering and vibrational spectroscopy on everything from small molecules to pieces of DNA and proteins. Some of the current projects in my laboratory:


Peroxide explosive detection – Some of the favorite terrorist explosives can be cooked in a bathtub from hydrogen peroxide, other common chemicals, and acid. There are currently no good methods for detecting these nasty and highly dangerous materials. We are helping keep the world safe by developing new methods for detecting the,. So far, we have characterized two such explosives (HMTD and TATP – google them for more information!) by NMR, and we are currently building new NMR detectors, working at very low or zero magnetic field.

Hydrogen bonds – Despite over a half-century of research, physical chemists and biochemists still don't understand strong hydrogen bonds, or how they may be implicated in enzyme mechanisms. We are doing fundamental quantum mechanical research, as well as NMR, infra-red and (at Argonne National laboratory) inelastic neutron scattering, to try to understand what's going on.

DNA – What kinds of dynamics happen in the DNA double helix? How does dynamics affect DNA flexibility, enzyme recognition, and DNA chemical reactivity. In collaboration with a group at Southwest Missouri state, we are labeling DNA, and using a combination of solid-state NMR and quantum mechanics to understand how DNA moves.

Metalloproteins – A majority of enzymes use metals to help catalyze reactions. Some of these metals (zinc, nickel, and copper) are almost spectroscopically invisible in their diamagnetic oxidation states. We are using very high field solid-state NMR to probe these metals.

For more information, please visit the Harbison Research Group Homepage.

Selected Publications

X. Zhao, G. S. Harbison (2006) 'Deuterium quadrupolar tensors of L-histidine hydrochloride monohydrate-d7' J. Phys. Chem. B110, 25059-25065

J. Persons, G. S. Harbison (2007) 'Sample turning Reveals Enormous Anisotropic Quadrupolar Interactions' J. Magn. Reson.186, 347-351

J. Persons, G. S. Harbison (2007) 'The 14N quadrupole coupling in hexamethylenetriperoxidediamine (HMTD)' Magn. Reson. Chem.45, 905-908

Complete list of publications