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Dr. Donald J. Hirsh

Associate Professor


B.S.- Stanford University
Ph. D- Yale University
Postdoctoral Research Associate- Washington University

Professional Experience

U.S. Peace CorpsSwaziland
The Liposome Company
Delsys Pharmaceutical Company

Prof. Michelle Bunagan and I teach the physical chemistry sequence: Quantum Chemistry and Chemical Thermodynamics.  I also teach General Chemistry I and II.  I will teach an advanced elective in magnetic resonance (NMR and EPR) starting in 2014.  I use and am an advocate for guided inquiry and collaborative teaching methods.


Measurement of Nanometer-scale Distances and Weak Exchange Couplings using Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) Spectroscopy. Typically, electrons are found “paired” in atomic or molecular orbitals and so we do not observe their magnetic properties.  However, radicals and many metal ions have unpaired electrons and these have an observable magnetic dipole moment, like that of a bar magnet or compass needle.  We have synthesized chemically modified DNA duplexes that allow us to study the magnetic interactions between radicals and metal ions using EPR spectroscopy. The goal is to develop new methods to measure distances in proteins, RNA, and DNA.

Graphene Oxide. Graphite is composed of stacked, flat sheets of carbon atoms.  The individual sheets, one carbon atom “thick”, are known as graphene. Graphene is conductive, nearly transparent, and has fascinating quantum mechanical properties.  Graphene oxide is an oxidized form of graphene with its own interesting properties.  It is also a potential intermediate to graphene synthesis.  We are investigating the electronic and magnetic properties of chemically-modified graphene oxide in collaboration with the research group of Prof. Michele Vittadello, Medgar Evers College/CUNY.

Nitric Oxide Production in Oceanic Diatoms. Nitric oxide, NO, serves many roles in animal and plant physiology.  It is also produced by diatoms in times of stress.  Diatoms are single-celled, photosynthetic organisms with silica shells that are responsible for ~20% of the carbon fixation on earth.  In collaboration with Prof. Kay Bidle’s research group at Rutgers University, we are studying the mechanism and genetics of NO production in oceanic diatoms.

Letters of Recommendation from Dr. Hirsh

Recent Publications

(TCNJ undergraduate researchers underlined.)

  • Saturation Recovery EPR with Nitroxyl Radical – Dy(III) Spin Pairs: Distances and Orientations, Hirsh, D. J., McCracken, J. M., Biczo, R., and Gesuelli, K.-A., (2013) Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 117: 11960–11977
  • Sensitivity Enhancement in Continuous-Wave Electron Paramagnetic Resonance: Adaptive Signal Averaging versus a Moving Average, Brinton, Christopher G. and Hirsh, D. J., (2010) Review of Scientific Instruments 81(2)
  • Structure and Dynamics of a DNA-based Model System for the Study of Electron Spin-spin Interactions, Biczo, R. and Hirsh, D. J., (2009) Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry 103: 362-372
  • A Diatom Gene Regulating Nitric-oxide Signaling and Susceptibility to Diatom-derived Aldehydes, Vardi, A., Bidle, K. D., Kwityn, C., Hirsh, D. J., Thompson, S. M., Callow, J. A., Falkowski, P. and Bowler, C., (2008) Current Biology 18: 895-899
  • Measuring Distances in Proteins by Saturation-Recovery EPR, Hirsh, D. J. and Brudvig, G. W., (2007) Nature Protocols 2: 1770-1781
  • Progress Towards a DNA-based Model System for Studying Electron Spin-Spin Interactions,Chen, X.J., Szklarski, R.A., Tuohy, C., Schramm, J., Skiff, H.,  Hummel, K, Vacirca, N., Wolf, B. A., and Hirsh, D.J., (2007) Biophysical Chemistry 129(2-3): 148-162

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