L. Kraig  Steffen

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Fairfield University


Office: (203) 254-4000  ext. 2254

Home: (203) 882-9605

Fax:    (203) 254-4034

email:  lsteffen@mail.fairfield.edu






I obtained my B.S. from Houghton College in Upstate NY and the Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Arizona in 1990.  After a post doc at IU with Joseph Gajewski and a post-doc at Trinity San Antonio with Ben Plummer I took my current faculty position at Fairfield University in 1993.  Click here for my full C.V.



Research Interests


My principle interests include organic electrochemistry, atomic force microscopy (AFM) of molecular crystals, and molecular modeling.  My graduate work was on neighboring group participation in the oxidation of thioethers.  During my recent sabbatical in 2008 I worked extensively with Al Fry at Wesleyan University investigating the redox properties of tri-aryl amines and their use as electrocatalysts.  Some of this work has recently been published in Tetrahedron.  This work on tri-aryl amine electrocatalysis is ongoing.  Other earlier work focused on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and their redox properties.  The AFM work, which revolves around the observation of complex crystallization/dissolution behavior of benzoin, was done in collaboration with J. Michael McBride at Yale.  I have also collaborated with Malcolm Hill, formerly in our Biology department and now at the University of Richmond, and Fairfield U graduate Cate Stabile on a project investigating the effects of exposure to persistent organic pollutants on sponge development.  A full list of papers that I have published over the years can be found in my C.V. 


Curricular Interests


For the past few years I have been heavily involved in the delivery of science courses for non-science majors at Fairfield University.  Working with Kathy Nantz from our Center for Academic Excellence, and  large number of Natural Science faculty interested in core science, we obtained a major NSF-CCLI grant for the development of Coupled Core Courses and the creation of the Resource Center for Core Science.   The course coupling involves teaching two science core courses in a coordinated way to create a much richer integrated and interdisciplinary learning environment.  The University has provided significant funding to remodel and old laboratory space to create the RCCS laboratory/lecture classroom.  I have long been interested in the use of molecular modeling in the classroom.  From simple ball and stick plastic models to sophisticated quantum mechanical calculations and visualization of the results of such calculations.  What value are models to students?  Can they learn more efficiently by using models/visualizations/animations?  What amount of drawing is best?  Can students learn more if they can use more sophisticated modeling?  The other area of general curricular interest I have is in the teaching of natural science to students in other majors.  I have been deeply involved in revising the core science offerings at Fairfield towards courses focused on giving students the opportunity to experience science as more than a simple collection of facts about some narrow field.  Our goal has been to increase student awareness of the process of science as a potent way of knowing that has utterly changed the world in which we live.  We seek to expose students to the true nature of doing science and the great joy of finding out ways to model the rich complexity of the world around us.  In an age when world leaders blithely ignore major research findings because it does not fit in with their world view science education has become even more important. 


Outside the Lab


I have enjoyed Disc Golf for many years and have competed professionally.  I am quite proud to have brought a championship quality 12 hole course to the campus of Fairfield University.  This course continues to undergo revision and now 12 permanent holes and 3 temporary holes.   This past winter I took up a new sport, Curling.  Curling is a great team game of skill, touch, and strategy where you slide 42 pound granite stones down an ice sheet to hit a bullseye target.   I am an avid music fan, and am especially happy to support Fairfield University instrumental music program director Brian Torff.  (a great teacher and awesome bass player)  A bit of a closet ecologist, I helped form the Ash Creek Conservation Association to work towards a greater community understanding of and protection for one local tidal estuary in particular and sensitive coastal wetlands in general.  I live in Black Rock, a neighborhood in Bridgeport, with my new wife Tema Nemtzow and two mal-adjusted felines name Abby and Heisenberg.