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Department ofChemistry and Biochemistry


Ian Carter-O'Connell

Ian Carter-O'Connell

Introducing Ian Carter-O'Connell

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has had many wonderful new-hires and our most recent hire is no exception. Ian joined us this past year and he is off to a wonderful start. Ian grew up in Westminster, Colorado a mile down the road from his future wife Joanna. After high school he attended Colorado College as a Biochemistry major. Ian then decided to pursue his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Harvard University in the lab of Dr. Erin O’Shea before doing post-doctoral studies in Chemical Biology with Dr. Michael Cohen at Oregon Health and Sciences University. We asked Dr. Carter-O’Connell a few questions to learn more about him.

  1. What attracted you to Santa Clara University?

    “While applying to positions I felt split between performing highlevel, productive research and effective teaching. After interviewing at SCU I felt I could still do the research I wanted to pursue as well as focus on student-centered teaching. I was also very attracted to the idea of having a voice in shaping the direction of the future STEM Center at SCU.”

  2. Now that you have completed your first academic year what surprised you the most or what are you most excited about at SCU?

    “I am most excited about getting a full summer with my students to get my research up and running. From my experience so far with SCU students they seem to have very high “grit-scores” and do not get easily discouraged. This is a very good indicator for potential successes.”

  3. Why did you choose your particular field of interest (Biochemistry) to pursue your studies and explore your research?

    "Initially I thought I wanted to go into Environmental Law, but then I took my first General Chemistry class at Colorado College. This class sought to teach chemistry while breaking down disciplinary barriers. The class taught chemical principles centered around bioremediation, green chemistry and biofuels. This is what began my interest in how cells not only respond to their environment, but also how they communicate.”

  4. What recent development in chemistry most excites you?

    “The recent applications of click-based copper(I) catalyzed ligation reactions excites me most. The chemistry itself is not new, but in recent years it has opened entire disciplines to studies we could not do before by allowing us to tag specific molecules. The field has really exploded in the last 10 years.”