Department of Chemistry, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
PhD in Chemistry 2005- July 2011
Major: Physical Chemistry
Advisor: Prof. Arthur G. Suits
Dissertation title "Astrochemical Dynamics: Fundamental Studies Relevant to Titan's atmosphere"
University of Nairobi, Kenya
MSc (Environmental Chemistry) October 2002- June 2005
Thesis title: "Influence of Selected Co-solutes on Copper (II) Removal from aqueous Solutions using a Micaceous mineral of Kenyan origin"
University of Nairobi, Kenya 1997-2001
B.Sc (Chemistry): First class honors
Post-doctoral Research Associate with W. Carl Lineberger, JILA, University of Colorado-Boulder, August 2011 to date
Negative-Ion Photoelectron spectroscopy of anions and radicals
Graduate Research Assistant, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, January 2007 to August 2011
Graduate Teaching/Research Assistant, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI August 2005 to May 2008
Graduate Teaching /Research Assistant, University of Nairobi Kenya, October 2002 - May 2005
Selected Past Teaching Assignments:
Wayne State University, Detroit MI: Teaching assistant for:
•CHM 5550: Physical Chemistry Laboratory, Winter 2008 and 2009 Instructor for advanced Physical Chemistry Students on experiments involving fundamental investigations of kinetics, thermodynamics, spectroscopic and quantum chemistry measurements
• CHM 1220/1225: General Chemistry and Laboratory-Winter 2006,Summer 2006 and Fall 2006 Chemical structure, bonding, and reactivity
• CHM 1040: Chemistry Skills and Reasoning-Fall 2005 Teaching Assistant for class and Laboratory University of Nairobi, Kenya: October 2002-May 2005
• Teaching Assistant for Physical chemistry Laboratory for first year Chemistry, Pharmacy and Agronomy students
• Responsible for instruction, safety, and grading of lab reports of ~200 undergraduate students
Summary of Past and Current Research
Current/Ongoing postdoctoral research work at JILA
• Gas-Phase Photoelectron spectroscopy of organic anions and radicals relevant to Astrochemistry and non-Born-Oppenheimer effects.
• Ongoing research involve gas phase negative ion photoelectron spectroscopy of anions of dehydro o- m- and p-cresol (methylphenol) radicals and didehydrocresol biradicals, directed to structure determination and accurate determination of important thermochemical properties such as the electron affinity (EA), gas phase acidity and accurate bond dissociation energies using a negative ion- thermochemical cycle. Particular emphasis is placed upon the use of ion chemistry for structure and isomer determination. The didehydrocresol experiments are complete and two major papers are under final stages of submission for publication.
• Collaboration with physical organic/astrochemist Veronica Bierbaum to determine acidities and reaction mechanisms that lead to formation of the desired anions.
PhD Research at Wayne State University
• Primary photochemistry studies of unsaturated hydrocarbon molecules relevant to Titan’s atmosphere using ion imaging method under collisionless conditions.
• Photodissociation dynamics of state-prepared cations using DC slice imaging to explore features of cation potential energy surfaces that are relevant to ion-molecule reactions in Titan’s ionosphere.
• Development of an experimental technique to study ion-molecule reactions at low temperature conditions prevalent in Titan’s atmosphere, and application to determine branching ratios for reactions of state-prepared N2+ ions with methane, acetylene, ethylene and other neutral constituents of Titan’s upper atmosphere.
1) Daniel J. Nelson, Gichuhi, W.K; Veronica M. Bierbaum, and W. Carl Lineberger: “Structure and Thermochemistry of Didehydrocresol biradicals,” manuscript in preparation, 2014.
2) Gichuhi, W.K;, Elisa Miller, Dan Nelson, and W. Carl Lineberger: “UV Photoelectron Spectroscopy of o-, m-, and p-Methylphenoxide Anions,” to be Submitted to J.Phys. Chem. A, 2014.
3) Gichuhi, W.K; and Suits A.G: “Low-temperature branching ratio for the reaction of state-prepared N2+ with acetonitrile,” J. Phys. Chem A, 2012, 116 (3), 938.
4) Gichuhi, W.K; and Suits A.G: “Primary branching ratios for the low temperature reaction of state-prepared N2+ with CH4, C2H2 and C2H4-," J. Phys. Chem. A, 2011,
115 (25), 7105.
5) Gichuhi, W.K; Mebel, A.M and Suits, A.G: “UV Photodissociation of ethylamine cation: A combined experimental and theoretical investigation,” J. Phys. Chem. A 114, 51, 13296: cover for the December 30, 2010, 114,51 issue.
6) Suits, A.G; Gichuhi, W.K; Mebel, A.M; "General discussion," Faraday Discuss. 146.
7) Suits, A.G; Huang C; Gichuhi, W.K; Silva R; Kislov, V.V; Zhang, F; Mebel, A.M; Kaiser, R.I; “Primary photodissociation dynamics of hydrocarbons relevant to Titan’s atmosphere,” 239th ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, US, March 21-25, 2010.
8) Suits, A. G.; Gichuhi, W.K; Silva, R.; Doyle, M. B.; Mebel, A. M.; Kaiser, R. I.; ‘‘Laboratory Studies of Primary Photochemistry Relevant to Titan's Atmosphere,’’ Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) contributions, 1538, 5283.
9) Huang, C; Zhang, F; Kaiser, R.I; Kislov, V.V; Mebel, A.M; Silva R; Gichuhi, W.K; Suits, A.G; “Photodissociation of the diacetylene dimer and implications for hydrocarbon growth in Titan’s atmosphere’’ Astrophysical Journal, 2010, 714
10) Silva, R; Gichuhi, W.K; Kislov, V.V; Mebel, A.M; Suits, A.G: “UV “Photodissociation of cyanoacetylene: A combined ion imaging and theoretical investigation” J. Phys. Chem. A, 2009, 113 (42), 11182–11186
11) Silva, R; Gichuhi, W.K; Doyle, M.B; Winney, A.H; Suits, A.G: “Photodissociation of heptane isomers and relative ionization efficiencies of butyl and propyl radicals at 157 nm” Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2009, 11, 4777-4781
12) Silva, R; Gichuhi, W.K; Huang, C; Doyle, M.B; Kislov, V.V; Mebel, A.M; Suits, A.G: “H-elimination and metastable lifetimes in the UV photoexcitation of diacetylene” Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci, 2008, 105, 12713-12718
1) “UV-Photoelectron Spectroscopy of o-, m-, and p-Methylphenoxide Anions- Dynamics of Molecular Collisions (DMC) conference, Glanlibakken, Califonia; July 7-12, 2013.
2) ‘’Primary branching ratios for the low temperature reaction of state-prepared N2+ with CH4, C2H2 and C2H4’’ Gordon Research Conference: Gaseous Ions: Structures, Energetics & Reactions, Galveston, Texas; Feb. 27-March 4, 2011.
3) “Photodissociation of diacetylene dimer and cyanoacetylene in Titan’s atmosphere”: 11th annual Wayne State University Chemistry Graduate Research Symposium, Detroit, MI October 2009.
4) “Photodissociation of Heptane Isomers and Relative ionization Efficiencies of Butyl and Propyl Radicals”; Third Workshop on ‘Titan-Observations, Experiments, Computations and Modelling’. San Juan, PR, February 26-28, 2009.
5) “H-elimination and metastable lifetimes in the UV photoexcitation of diacetylene”: Gordon Research Conferences: Atomic and Molecular Interactions Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH July 6-11, 2008.
6) Primary photochemistry of diacetylene”: Second Workshop on ‘Titan- Observations, Experiments, Computations and Modelling’. Miami, Florida, March 24-26, 2008.
7) “Photochemistry of diacetylene in Titan’s atmosphere”: 9th Annual Wayne State University Chemistry Graduate Research Symposium, Detroit, MI, October 2007.
1) “Ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy of methylphenoxide anions’’- 248th ACS National Meeting and Exposition, August 10-14, 2014, San Francisco, CA.
2) “Ion Chemistry and Primary Branching ratios for the Low Temperature Reaction of State-Prepared N2+ with CH4, C2H2 and C2H4’’ Fifth Workshop on “Titan Chemistry- Observations, Experiments, Computations and Modeling” Poipu Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii, April 11-14, 2011.
Awards and Memberships
• Dan Trivich Memorial Award for Outstanding Research in Physical Chemistry- Wayne state University, 2011
• Member of American Physical Society and American Chemical Society (active member of the Physical Chemistry Division and Astrochemistry Sub-division)
• University of Nairobi Scholarship to pursue MSc. in Environmental chemistry
• DAAD scholarship award to carry out MSc research at the University of Nairobi, Kenya- 2002-2005
Occasional Reviewer: Journal of Physical Chemistry A
1) Prof. W. Carl Lineberger
University of Colorado
JILA and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
UCB 440 Boulder, CO 80309-0440
2) Prof. Arthur G Suits
Department of Chemistry
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48202
Tel. (313) 577-9008
3) Prof. Ralf I. Kaiser
Department of Chemistry
University of Hawai’i at Manoa
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel. (808) 956-5731