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Susan Sutheimer Ph.D.

Professor of Chemistry; Division Chair, Science & Outdoor Leadership

Terrace Hall 002
One Brennan Circle
Poultney, VT 05764-1199
Email Address:
(802) 287-8331 Fax: (802) 287-8080

"...the Earth needs scientists who are willing to speak for it."
-Jennifer Ritzmann

It is very difficult for most people to comprehend that understanding science is an important part of understanding the environment. Most people shudder (from previous memories?) when they hear the word "chemistry". Yet Jennifer Ritzmann was one of those who did understand. Although only a college sophomore, she appreciated the importance of understanding not only how our political, our ethical and our economic systems work, but also how the tiniest molecule must be understood before we can intelligently speak for our world. And that world is rapidly changing. In the short time since Jennifer's death in 1998, we have failed to significantly halt global warming, acid rain or excessive nutrients in our waterways: all chemical problems.

Chemistry fascinates me because it brings logic to solving complex as well as everyday problems. My students and I enjoy discovering reasons why things happen chemically in the environment or in the kitchen. At the same time we begin to get a basic understanding of how things around us can be improved. In lab we are geared especially to understanding problems associated with lakes and streams or with naturally occurring substances such as toxins or poisons, dyes or even medicines.

My research also deals with lakes and streams, including nearby Lake St. Catherine, and the Poultney River which runs along the College property. I work with Vermont Division of Natural Resources and the Poultney-Mettowee Watershed Partnership to identify water quality problems and develop student aided monitoring projects. I am also interested in studying certain chemicals that enter our lakes from human sources such as commonly used drugs and caffeine!

Ph.D. Analytical Chemistry, Kent State University, 1995
Dissertation title: "Aluminum Speciation in Natural Waters Using High Performance Liquid Chromatography with Aluminum Specific Detection"
Advisor: Professor Stephen E. Cabaniss, Ph.D.
A.S.C.P. Certified Medical Technologist in Clinical Chemistry
B.S. Chemistry, Marquette University, cum laude

Courses Taught
Courses for chemistry and biology majors:
General chemistry, organic chemistry, the chemistry of sustainability, biochemistry, limnology, analytical chemistry and laboratories associated with each.
Courses without laboratories include polymer chemistry, nuclear chemistry and environmental chemistry.

Courses for non-science majors:
Environmental chemistry, earth science, environmental science, and fundamentals of chemistry

Academic Interests

  • Implementing state of the art teaching methods in chemistry

  • Developing chemistry laboratories that focus on real world environmental situations

  • Incorportating Green Chemistry into the curriculum

  • Utilizing service-learning in all disciplines

  • Working with students to stimulate their interest in the sciences 

Research Interests

  • Understanding aquatic ecosystems based on the chemical analysis of freshwaters

  • Applying the principles of Green Chemistry in student laboratories

  • Investigating the impacts of acid rain, mercury and toxic metals on the environment

  • Analyzing for nutrients and endocrine disruptors in freshwaters

  • Modeling aluminum, chromium and lead speciation, binding and toxicity in natural waters

Honors and Grants
2010 Recipient of the American Chemical Society & Committee on Environmental Improvement Award for Incorporating Sustainability into Chemistry Education
2003-2006 Vermont Campus Compact Service Learning Grant
2002 NSF Course Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement Grant
        Adaptation and Implementation (CCLI-A&I) Grant
2001 EPA EPSCoR Stimulus Grant for Lake Monitoring
1998-99 Notre Dame College Faculty Grant for Computer Technology
1997 Geauga Park District Grant for Research and Teaching
1997 Lake Erie Protection Fund Grant
1995 Water Resources Research Institute Grant
1993 B.F. Goodrich Co., Semon Graduate Student Grant

Other academic positions
2002-2003 Lecturer in Chemistry, North Carolina State University
2001- 2002 Associate Professor of Chemistry, Green Mountain College
1995-2000 Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Notre Dame College of Ohio

Scientific Publications

Sutheimer, S. "Strategies to Simplify Service-Learning Efforts in Chemistry", Journal of Chemical Education, 2008, 85, 231-233

Sutheimer, S.H." Effects of Low POC/DOC on Metal Speciation in Lake Erie, A Report to the Lake Erie Protection Fund", 1999.

Sutheimer, S.H.; Maurice, P.A. and Zhou, Q. "Dissolution of Well and Poorly Crystallized Kaolinites: Al Speciation and Effects of Surface Characteristics", Am. Mineralogist 1999, 84, 620-928.

Sutheimer, S.H.; Cabaniss, S.E. "Aluminum Binding to Humic Substances Determined by High Performance Cation Exchange Chromatography", Geochim Cosmochim Acta, 1997, 61, 1-9..

Sutheimer, S.H.; Cabaniss, S.E. "Aqueous Al(III) Speciation by High Performance Cation Exchange Chromatography with Fluorescence Detection of the Aluminum-Lumogallion Complex", Analytical Chemistry 1995, 67, 2342-2349.

Sutheimer, S.H.; Cabaniss, S.E. "Acidity and Visible Absorbance of Lumogallion, an Aluminum Fluorophore", submitted to Analytica Chimica Acta.

Sutheimer, S.H.; Ferracco, M.J.; Cabaniss, S.E. "Molecular Size Effects on Carboxylate Acidity: Implications for Humic Substances", Analytica Chimica Acta 1995, 304, 187-191.

Sutheimer, S.H.; Cabaniss, S.E. "Determination of Trace Aluminum in Natural Waters by Flow Injection Analysis with Fluorescent Detection of the Lumogallion Complex", Analytica Chimica Acta. 1995, 303, 211-221.

"The Speciation of Aluminum by HPLC", poster presentation, The Gordon Conference on Environmental Sciences: Water, June, 1996.

"Aluminum Speciation by High Performance Liquid Chromatography", presentation at the Cleveland Section, Society of Applied Spectroscopy, May, 1996.

"Aluminum Speciation in Acid Lakes: What, Why and HPLC", Clarkson University Civil Engineering Seminar, June, 1995.

"Aluminum Speciation in Natural Waters Using Flow Injection Analysis and High Performance Liquid Chromatography", presentation at the ACS Meeting in Miniature, Cleveland Section, March, 1995.

"Aluminum Speciation in Natural Waters Using Flow Injection Analysis and High Performance Liquid Chromatography", presentation at The 17th Midwest Environmental Chemistry Workshop, Michigan State University, October, 1994.

"Determination of Dissolved Aluminum Species in Acid Waters Using Flow Injection Analysis and High Performance Liquid Chromatography", poster presentation at the Gordon Research Conference on Environmental Sciences, Water; June, 1994.

"Determination of Dissolved Aluminum Species in Acid Waters Using Flow Injection Analysis and High Performance Liquid Chromatography", poster presentation at the American Chemical Society Meeting; August, 1994.

"The Determination of Aluminum in Natural Waters by Flow Injection Analysis", poster presentations at the Kent State University Water Resources Research Institute Symposium; 1993-1995

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