SAILL Researchers

James Davis

James DavisDr. James Davis holds a joint position as a Professor of Chemistry and Research Director for the SAIL Laboratory. He is an internationally renowned expert on ionic liquids, liquefied salts which melt at low temperatures and function as solvents. His research record has recently earned him the prestigious title of Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Such recognition is not surprising. Indeed, since 1998 Davis and his research group have published 100 papers and abstracts. He says this published work has been “cited by others almost 10,000 times,” and his group has “nine issued patents in the field and have a couple of others pending.”

Dr. Davis came to the University of South Alabama as an Assistant Professor in August of 1995 after previously teaching Chemistry at Brandeis University. When he started at USA, there was no established research expectation for faculty members. Davis says he was hired to “excel in teaching.” Soon, however, research requirements for faculty members were established, and Davis had to set up a viable research program to achieve tenure and promotion. Dr. Davis started researching salt compounds with “very low melting points,” which dovetailed fortuitously with emergent research on ionic liquids. His success soon followed. Indeed, Davis and his research team are leaders in this field of chemistry.

Edward Duranty

Edward DurantyEdward Duranty is an assistant professor of chemistry at Western Carolina University. He develops new characterization techniques, namely a new calorimetric technique for samples isolated within an acoustic field. He has also continued some of his graduate research by studying the effects of thermally-driven oxidation during fused-deposition 3D printing processes.

Dr. Duranty graduated with a BS in Chemistry in 2006 from Georgia Southern University. He attended the University of Tennessee in the Chemistry Department, where he worked first to develop new chemometric algorithms with Dr. Frank Vogt. In 2010, he joined Mark Dadmun’s group, working on copolymer Monte Carlo simulations and characterizing the effects of thermal and chemical interfacial bonding techniques in polymer additive manufacturing. In 2015, he graduated from Mark’s group with a Ph.D. in chemistry with a concentration in physical chemistry. After graduating, he accepted a postdoctoral position at Pacific Northwest National Lab under Chuck Henager and Kyle Alvine in the Structural Materials and Characterization group of the Energy and Environment directorate. He spent five years in the chemistry department at the University of South Alabama prior to relocating to Western Carolina University in 2022.

Thomas Glover

Thomas GloverThomas Glover serves as a Professor of Chemical Engineering at USA. Since 2012, Dr. Glover has operated an externally funded research group focusing on gas separations, multicomponent adsorption, gas diffusion, and ionic liquids. He has published numerous journal publications, government reports, and patents detailing gas adsorption and porous materials development. He is the editor of the book Gas Adsorption in Metal-Organic Frameworks: Fundamentals and Applications. His research interest in ionic liquids includes applications of ionic liquids for gas separations and the application of ionic liquids for natural fiber welding. Before his academic appointment, Dr. Glover worked for SAIC/Leidos as a Defense Department (DOD) contractor. Dr. Glover has taught chemical engineering plant design and systems engineering for chemical engineers at the undergraduate level for nine years and teaches graduate-level mass transfer. During his time at SAIC/Leidos, he received the Living Our Values Award and the SAIC Division Level Employee of the Year Award. In 2017 he received the Russ and Robin Lea Faculty Innovation Award and the College of Engineering Excellence in Research Award.

Richard O'Brien

Richard O'BrienRichard O’Brien is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at USA. His research efforts have focused on the development of novel classes of ionic liquids utilizing the thiol-ene photochemical reactions. These new molecules incorporate the sulfur atom into the alkyl side chain of imidazolium, ammonium, and pyridinium cationic frameworks. In addition, Dr. O’Brien developed a new class of phase transfer catalysts based on incorporating sulfur-based appendages into tetra (4-thiaalkyl) ammonium bromides. These new ionic liquids are attractive as advanced materials for lubricants, high-temperature phase transfer catalysts, freezing points depressants, heat transfer fluids, and materials for separations.

Dr. O’Brien graduated with a B.S. in Professional Chemistry in 1985 from South Dakota State University, followed by an M.S. in 1987 from the University of North Dakota, and a Ph.D. in 1992 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln under the direction of Professor R.D. Rieke working with Highly Reactive Metals ® and halogenated and conducting polymers. He worked in the chemical industry for fifteen years with Rieke Metals, Inc., TPL, Inc., Hexcel Corporation, and Arizona Chemical Company. Dr. O’Brien joined the faculty at the University of South Alabama in 2008 as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Professor James H. Davis, Jr. working on ionic liquids, and then served as an adjunct professor before being promoted to an Associate Professor position in 2018.

Brooks Rabideau

Brooks RabideauDr. Rabideau uses molecular simulations to provide a detailed understanding of structure property relationships in ionic liquids.

Brooks Rabideau received his BS in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University (2001) and his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin (2007). He was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of East Paris (2007–2010) and RWTH Aachen University (2011–2016). In August 2016 he joined the University of South Alabama where he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. His research focuses on the application of ionic liquids for biomass processing.


Matthew Reichert

Matthew ReichertMatthew Reichert holds a joint appointment as a Professor of Chemistry and Assistant Vice President for Research in the Office of Research and Economic (ORED) He guides the Research Communications, Development and Learning unit within ORED, which oversees internal grant programs, a research newsletter, and proposal development programs for faculty. Along with his AVP duties, he continues to teach, maintains an active research group with external funding, and is the administrative director for the South Alabama Ionic Liquids Laboratory, SAILL.

Dr. Reichert graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry in 1998 from Berry College in Rome, GA, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 2005 from The University of Alabama. He began working in the field of ionic liquids, investigating their physical properties. In 2006, he took an Assistant Research Professor position at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, where he worked with Dr. Paul Trulove to apply ionic liquids and biomass. Dr. Reichert joined the faculty at the University of South Alabama in 2010 as an Assistant Professor in Chemistry, and in 2020 was promoted to full Professor.

Christy Wheeler West

Christy Wheeler WestIn 2009, Dr. Wheeler West joined the University of South Alabama, where she has since been promoted to Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, teaching material and energy balances and chemical reactor design. She is also the Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, where she oversees the university’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program as well as the administration of undergraduate research course enrollment. In addition to these efforts, Dr. Wheeler West continues to conduct research in reaction kinetics in ionic liquid solvents and in heterogeneous catalyst synthesis in supercritical fluids.

Dr. Wheeler West graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 1996 from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. She earned her doctorate, also in chemical engineering, at Georgia Institute of Technology in 2001, working in the field of reaction kinetics in both supercritical fluids and ionic liquids.  She then worked for two years as a postdoctoral researcher in the area of heterogeneous catalysis at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. From 2003 to 2008, she was an instructor in the chemistry department at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota (now St. Catherine University).

Kevin West

Kevin WestDr. Kevin West is a Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of South Alabama. He earned a Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a B.S. from the University of Virginia, both in Chemical Engineering. Before joining USA in 2008, he was a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota.

Kevin’s research focuses on the application of solution thermodynamics to develop environmentally benign and energy efficient chemical processes, particularly processes involving supercritical fluids and ionic liquids. His work on ionic liquids is highly collaborative with Dr. Jim Davis (Chemistry) and Dr. Brooks Rabideau (Chemical Engineering), among others, through the South Alabama Ionic Liquids Laboratory (SAILL). Recently, the group has focused on developing an understanding the molecular-level interactions that govern reaction and separations processes in complex mixtures. Kevin has been PI or Co-PI on over $7 million of externally funded research, has been recognized for excellence in research and undergraduate teaching and has served as President of the USA Faculty Senate.