Dr. Rob Walker
Hometown: Marblehead, MA
Undergraduate education: Dartmouth College, B.A. Chemistry, 1990, cum laude, High Honors in Chemistry
Undergraduate advisor: Professor Joe Belbruno
Graduate education: University of Wisconsin – Madison, Ph.D., 1995
Graduate advisor: Professor Jim Weisshaar
Thesis title: Molecular propellers: Internal Rotation in Substituted Toluene Molecules
Postdoctoral studies: University of Oregon (1995-1998)
Postdoctoral advisor: Professor Geri Richmond
Postdoctoral research: nonlinear optical studies of lipids adsorbed to liquid/liquid interfaces
Preferred activities (outside of the department): family, running and sleeping (on occasion)
One interesting fact about me: During graduate school, I ate a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream almost every night.
Originally trained as a gas-phase, molecular beam spectroscopist, I became more and more interested during my post-doctoral studies in how optical spectroscopy can be used to answer questions about how surfaces change the properties of an adjacent liquid from bulk solution limits.These questions led me to develop several research programs that use 2nd order nonlinear optical spectroscopies such as second harmonic generation (SHG) and vibrational sum frequency generation (VSFG) to study molecular organization and reactivity at solid/liquid, liquid/liquid and liquid vapor interfaces. More recently, we have also begun to address questions about the chemistry that occurs on high temperature, electrocatalyic surfaces. In this instance, "high temperature" corresponds to ≥ 1000K! These are the conditions found in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), and these environments pose significant challenges to direct, in situ experimental observations. We have adapted Raman microscopy to overcome the limitations imposed by blackbody radiation and the need for stand-off detection to study the chemistry that occurs when SOFCs operate with fuel such as methane, methanol, hydrogen and higher MW hydrocarbons. When not thinking about lab-related concerns or advising students or teaching classes, I can usually be found running on the trails around Bozeman or hiking/fishing with my sons.