Jean C. Tempel '65 Professor of Physical Sciences
Joined Connecticut College: 1990
B.S., M.S., University of Witwatersrand, South Africa; Ph.D., Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Post-Doctorate, Yale University
"I really enjoy my job here at Connecticut College and hope that some of it is reflected in my teaching. Sometimes chemistry can be fun! In my classes I try to show the practical applications of the chemistry. I try to present and look for humorous anecdotes to liven up the class, too. In order to keep myself amused and interested, I do the same in my research. Currently it involves the analysis of the mechanism of an anticancer drug and the formation of cow flatulence."
Professor Zimmer teaches general chemistry, molecular science, and environmental chemistry at Connecticut College. He has tried to make these courses relevant and interesting by introducing the most recent developments in general, medicinal, and environmental chemistry in his classes.
He led SATA South Africa in fall 2011.
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Zimmer's book, Glowing Genes: A Revolution in Biotechnology, (Prometheus, 2005) is the first popular science book on jellyfish and firefly proteins, which can help fight cancer, create new products, improve agriculture and combat terrorism. The book presents an overview of the many uses of these glowing proteins to kill and image cancer cells, monitor bacterial infections and light up in the presence of pollution.
His research group is mainly interested in the structural and photophysical properties of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), a protein found in jellyfish that has found numerous uses as a marker in medicine, cell biology and molecular biology. This work is funded by the National Institute of Health and the Research Corporation. In 2008 he attended the Nobel Prize ceremony, the year that the chemistry award was presented to three scientists for their GFP research.
Since joining Connecticut College in 1990, he has had 72 undergraduate research students. Thirty-nine have co-authored peer reviewed publications and 50 have presented talks or posters. Ten students have gone on to medical school and 18 to graduate programs in the sciences. In the past 4 years he has visited 29 schools and given chemistry demonstrations, classes and workshops to students. In the same time period he has given 4 workshops to groups of teachers.
Professor Zimmer was the program chair for the inorganic division of the American Chemical Society for 4 years and won the John S. Burlew Connecticut Valley Section Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to chemistry. He was the featured scientist in the fall 2009 NIH Findings magazine, which was sent to 30,000 high school students.
He led a group of students on a SATA South Africa in the fall of 2002 and conducted another SATA South Africa 2006. He also accompanied students in the spring of 2000 on a TRIP for the course Environmental Chemistry 316 to Boston, Massachusetts, to attend the 11th Annual Global Warming Conference at Harvard University and MIT.