Caroline is originally from Moscow, ID, and is happy to be back in the west and back at Carroll! Caroline attended Carroll College as an undergraduate student, and earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2003. She then moved to Madison, WI, where she attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and held a joint appointment between Dr. Robert McMahon and Dr. John Moore. While at UW Madison Caroline conducted research in a physical organic chemistry group (McMahon) where she studied the photochemistry of reactive intermediates. She also conducted chemical education research (Moore) where she designed, developed, and implemented a website that introduces current science research into middle and high school classrooms. Caroline graduated with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in May of 2008. After taking the summer off to travel across the United States and to Europe with her husband Chapin, they moved to Erie, PA in August of 2008, where she joined the faculty at Mercyhurst College. In the fall of 2011, Caroline came back to her alma mater, and is now a faculty member in the chemistry department.
At Carroll, Dr. Pharr teaches the general chemistry and organic chemistry lecture and laboratory sequences as well as Advanced Organic Chemistry. Her research group works at the interface of synthetic organic chemistry and materials science (more below). When she’s not at school she likes to keep busy outside and enjoys running, biking, hiking, swimming, cross country skiing, and doing sprint triathlons. When not running around, she enjoys helping her husband brew beer, rooting for the Packers, and tackling various home improvement projects!
Our research group works at the interface of synthetic organic chemistry and materials chemistry. Specifically, we are working to synthesize stable, long lived organic molecules that emit light in the blue region. Organic molecules that emit light in the visible region have found a broad range of applications in technology. Currently organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) are being used in general lighting, cell phone and automobile displays, and more recently in televisions. OLEDs are advantageous over traditional lighting sources because they require less energy to run, provide brighter light, and can applied to various substrates, including cloth or plastic.
Red, green, and blue light emitters supply devices with the full spectrum of colors for a display. Currently, red and green emitting molecules have been synthesized with sufficiently long lifetimes and stabilities, while blue emitting molecules have struggled with these issues. Our group is working to synthesize a new family of molecules that emit light in the blue range and have greater stability and longer lifetimes. Students in my research lab are working to synthesize, purify, and characterize these molecules. An emphasis on “greener” methods in organic synthesis is explored and employed whenever possible in this project. Students also have the opportunity to work with many different instruments, including 1H NMR and GC-MS to verify the identity and purity of the molecules that are synthesized in our lab. Fluorescence spectroscopy and cyclic voltammetry will be used to explore the photophysical and electronic properties of the molecules as they are synthesized.
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D. University of Wisconsin - Madison
B.S. Carroll College
Areas of Interest: Organic Chemistry, Chemical Education
Courses Taught: General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Advanced Organic Chemistry
(Undergraduate student authors indicated by star*)
“Carbazole Centered Molecules as Blue Light Emitters for Use in Organic Light Emitting Diodes” Caitlin Nicka* and Dr. Caroline Pharr, National Conference on Undergraduate Research, Ithaca, NY, April 2011
Invited Talk - “From Reactive Intermediates to Synthesis of Organic Molecules for Materials Devices” Dr. Caroline Pharr, John Carroll University Seminar Series, University Heights, OH, November 3, 2010
“Energy science: Teaching chemistry and physics to non-science majors in a context relevant to their lives” Dr. Caroline Pharr and Dr. Candee Chambers, National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Boston, MA, August 2010
“Synthesis of carbazole-centered blue light-emitting organic molecules for use in organic light-emitting diodes” Caitlin Nicka* and Dr. Caroline Pharr, National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Boston, MA, August 2010
“Synthesis and characterization of blue light-emitting molecules for application in OLED technology” Emma Bradic* and Dr. Caroline Pharr, National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Boston, MA, August 2010