Loyola University Chicago

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Faculty & Staff

Fitch, Alanah

Title/s:  Emeritus Professor

Phone: 773.508.3119

Email: afitch@luc.edu

External Webpage: http://afitch.sites.luc.edu


  • B.A., 1975, Antioch College
  • M.S., 1977, University of Arizona
  • Ph.D. 1981, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana
  • Postdoctoral, 1981-1984, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Postdoctoral, 1984-1985, Northwestern University

Research Interests

We have recently completed a spectroelectrochemical study of cross-linked hemoglobins in which we have measured the oxidation/reduction kinetics of a variety of cross-linked hemoglobins. We have ascertained that the driving force for autooxidation of hemoglobin is not the electron transfer of the irons in the heme. This has substantial implications for the development of stable blood substitutes. The second step in this project will be to develop clay-protein matrices for spectroelectrochemical sensing. The rationale behind this idea is that the clay matrix will prevent denaturation of the proteins enhancing the stability and functionality of the proteins.

In the area of clay chemistry we are interested in what controls the movement of a molecule moves in nano-sized negatively charged channels. The channels are constructed from stable swollen clay films. The overall charge (positive, neutral, negative) on the probe molecule, the effect of negative peripheral charge on a cationic probe in "docking" at the clay surface, and the hydrophobicity of the molecule are tailored to result in changes in the transport properties. By understanding the molecular controls on diffusion we can rationally tailor the clay to either enhance or retard this diffusion. This molecular tinkering will allow control the diffusion of a pollutant under a waste site (environmental research) and in the construction of electroactive composites (nanobatteries). We use molecular modeling, X-ray diffraction, UV-Vis fiber optics, and, our staple, electrochemistry to monitor the transport of the probes in thin (5 micron thick) clay films.

A third major focus of research is lead, the 2nd most toxic species on the national toxic registry. In this area we have three inter-related projects. One involves fingerprinting the source of lead by the use of lead isotope surveys. We have recently completed a study utilizing lead to track the immigration of European Americans to Southern Illinois in between 1810-1860. A second project involves the successful creation of a lead Cinderella?s slipper. The reagent designed is 300 times more selective to lead than to any other metal, making it the most selective lead reagent developed to date. The second phase of this project will entail using the reagent to create lead sensors. The third lead related project involves community driven environmental lead research. We have developed an instrumental curriculum around community derived soil and dust samples for lead.

Selected Publications

Fitch, A., Qiu, J. And S. Baker: Fiber Optical Measurements of Transport in Thin Clay films. Solicited Symposium Chapter. Clay Barriers and Waste Management. International Clays and Clay Minerals Meeting. Ontario, June 1997. Can. J. Soil Sci.,1999

Fitch, Alanah, Aaron Repman, and John Schmidt: The Ethics of Community/Undergraduate Collaborative Research in Chemistry Monograph Chapter sponsored by the Association of Higher Education. Solicited Chapter. 1999..

Macha, S., Gregory Zayia, J. Du, Jenny Stein, and Alanah Fitch, Invited paper, Applied Clay Science: Tailoring Layered Clay FilmStructures Through Control of Aqueous Electrolyte. Applied Clay Sci., 1999

Fitch, A. Lead Analysis: Past and Present, Critical Reviews in Analytical Chemistry, 1998. 28(3), 267-345.

Dragan, Simona, Fitch, A.,: FTIR measurements of Lead. J. Chem. Ed. Special Edition, 1998, 1018-1021.