Sheryl Hemkin joined the Kenyon faculty in 2003 after working at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.  She is a physical chemist with research interests in oscillatory chemical systems. Her teaching interests include introductory and physical chemistry courses.

Hemkin and her students have two major projects in the lab. The first involves gaining insight and understanding of the chemical role of Ca2+ oscillations in astrocytes, a cell within the central nervous system. Aside from being an interesting chemical question, she believes this is important since neurodegenerative diseases, while being marked by deterioration of neurons, seem to be affected by the health of the neighboring astrocytes and microglia.

The second project involves gaining insight on the how cellular oscillators, like neurons and astrocytes, interact. Instead of using models specific to these cells, we are using more basic models (ex. FitzHugh-Nagumo) to understand how individual oscillators can influence one another to synchronize (ex. how neurons synchronize during epileptiform activity) or break an established order (ex. ventricular arrhythmia in the heart).


1999 — Doctor of Philosophy from Purdue Univ West Lafayette

1992 — Master of Science from Univ Illinois Chicago

1990 — Bachelor of Arts from Univ Chicago

Courses Recently Taught

This course offers a description of the central nervous system's structure and function in terms of chemical interactions and reactions. Topics are developed through lectures, discussions and student presentations. Topics that may be covered include; the chemistry related to neurocellular anatomy, neurotransmitters, psychoactive drugs and neurological disorders. This counts toward the Neuroscience Program. No prerequisite. Offered every two years.

This course provides a thorough introduction to the fundamental concepts, theories, and methodologies of chemistry. Topics may include stoichiometry, theories of molecular structure and bonding, the periodic table, quantum theory, acid-base chemistry, chemical equilibria and thermodynamics. This course provides a basis for the further study of chemistry. No prerequisite. Offered every fall semester.

This lecture-discussion course continues the introductory chemistry sequence started in CHEM 121. We will explore the chemical principles of molecular structure, bonding, reactivity, electrochemistry, kinetics and intermolecular forces. Chemical principles are explored in the context of current issues in the study or application of chemistry. Prerequisite: CHEM 121 or 122. Offered every spring semester.

This course presents a study of chemical kinetics and chemical thermodynamics. Specific topics include rate laws and reaction mechanisms, reaction-rate theories, the laws of thermodynamics, thermochemistry, properties of solutions, and equilibrium. Applications will be drawn from organic and inorganic chemistry, as well as biochemistry. MATH 112 is highly recommended. Required for the major. Prerequisite: CHEM 122 or 124. Offered every fall semester.

Advanced selected topics in advanced chemistry and biochemistry are explored with an emphasis on reading and discussing current scientific research and literature. Topics covered will vary by faculty interest each semester, and typically relate to interesting applications or emerging techniques within organic, biophysical, biochemical, materials or analytical chemistry. Offered every semester, sections will change. Inquire with the chair and look for announcements for the specific topic in a given semester. Please see the schedule of courses each semester for the section being taught. This counts toward advanced course elective for the major. Offered every semester.

This is a required course for all chemistry majors, including those involved in independent research. The course covers topics relating to chemistry research. Weekly meetings will involve (1) searching chemistry literature, (2) analyzing primary research articles, and (3) discussing ethics, trends, funding and other issues relating to chemistry research. During the semester, students will give written and oral presentations of primary research articles. Prerequisite: senior standing. Offered every fall semester.

This course provides the student with an opportunity for independent investigation of a topic not covered in the curriculum or a topic related to a faculty member's research. Prerequisite: permission of department chair.

This course is for students pursuing departmental honors. Permission of instructor and department chair required.