Libbie S.W. Pelter, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Image of Dr. Libbie Pelter in a chemistry and physics lab

Office: Gyte 265

Telephone: 219-989-2780



Ph.D. Organic Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley

B.S. Chemistry, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR


Computational Chemistry:

The use of molecular modeling and 3D-visualization techniques along with multivariate analysis of reaction outcome data to model catalytic intermediates to gain a better understanding of the catalytic process and optimize catalyst design.  Molecular modeling and visualization in undergraduate education used to enhance student learning and engagement.

Computational chemistry is used as a compliment to experimental chemistry to guide catalyst design.  Using computational methods, the structures of active catalysts and ligand metal interactions can be studied.  This allows for the investigation of possible mechanisms for metal-catalyzed stereo- or regiospecific reactions.  The computational models coupled with experimental results reveal the role that shape and ligand substituents play in catalyst performance.  A better understanding of the mechanistic pathways, catalyst conformation and ligand interaction leads to a more efficient catalyst design giving improved activity and selectivity.

Purdue University Calumet has made an institutional commitment to support high performance computing and visualization with a primary goal of enhancing undergraduate education.  I am involved in a department wide effort to make molecular modeling, visualization, and computational methods an area of strength in our chemistry program.  We believe the results of this effort will be to stimulate students to learn chemistry, gain a better understanding of the three-dimensional nature of the science, and learn the value and limitations of computational chemistry techniques

Over the past ten years, we have incorporated molecular modeling into the organic chemistry curriculum through the use of twenty exercises that students complete individually outside of class time.  Recently, we have been working to make these activities inquiry based and have included group laboratory investigations that utilize 3-D visualization.  Students have responded to these with overwhelming enthusiasm and, more importantly, with a much clearer understanding of the problem posed and the answer obtained.  The most frequent comment we have had from students is that they would have liked to have had these visualization tools much earlier.  We agree and have decided to develop computational chemistry modules to be used throughout the curriculum.

Catalysis of Carbon-Carbon Bond Forming Reactions:

Development and evaluation of transition metal catalysts useful in carbon-carbon bond forming reactions including reactions that utilize waste CO2.  The use of nanomaterials in catalysis and organic synthesis using microwave heating.

Fluorous oxime palladacycle and fluorous carbene catalysts are currently being developed and their utility explored as catalysts with potentially improved stability, activity, and selectivity.  The presence of the fluorous tag on the catalyst allows the reactions to be carried out in the solution phase while permitting an easy separation of the catalyst from the desired product.  Additionally, this methodology allows for catalyst recovery and reuse.  The stability and selectivity of fluorous oxime palladacycles as homogeneous catalysts for the Sonogashira cross-coupling reaction is being explored with several substrates.  As part of this study, a comparison of conventional and microwave heating methods is under investigation for the coupling reactions.


Purdue University Calumet serves as a partner in a U.S. Department of Energy research grant that supports the Indiana Advanced Electric Vehicle Training and Education Consortium (I-AEVTec). The grant provides vital support and collaboration between Purdue and other state universities to advance education and training programs necessary for designing, manufacturing and maintaining advanced electric drive vehicles that are fuel-efficient and environmentally-responsible.  

As a part of this grant effort we are developing educational modules for electrochemistry, batteries and fuel cells. The interdisciplinary and inter-institutional nature of this project has provided participatory opportunities for Purdue Calumet faculty, students and secondary school teachers from area high schools.

Improvement in science, engineering and technology education is critical to produce the next generation of researchers, provide the workforce of the future, and to insure that the citizenry have the capability to make well informed decisions.  Electrochemical systems is an important aspect of current and future energy intensive technologies and therefore must be included in the curriculum to properly prepare teachers to meet the challenges of educating the next generation of students and equip individuals for the requirements of the workplace. We are building course modules that involve the concepts of electrochemistry for inclusion in introductory level chemistry, physics, and biology courses for non-science majors.  These courses are designed in a flexible format so that they could easily be adapted for use in middle and high school classrooms.  The complete set of modules will be available on the internet at


R. Kramer, L. Pelter, H. S. Valia, A. Ellis, “Enhancing coke production energy efficiency while reducing emissions,” Iron & Steel Technology, 2012, 9(3), 77-85.

L. S. W. Pelter, K. R. Kmiotek, “Synthesis and characterization of a novel recyclable palladium N-heterocyclic carbene catalyst”, Presented at the 241st ACS National Meeting, Anaheim, CA, 2011.

M. W. Pelter, L. S. W. Pelter, K. Berry, A. Harrigan, M. Hugg, K. Johnson, “Synthesis and Activity of Fluorous Phase Oxime  Palladacycle Catalysts”, Presented at the 241st ACS National Meeting, Anaheim, CA, 2011.

R. Kramer, L. Pelter, W. Liu, R. Branch, R. Martin, K. Kmiotek, “Utilization of Solar Heat for Processing Organic Wastes for Biological Hydrogen Production,”  Energy Engineering, 2011, 108, 3.

M. W. Pelter*, L. S. W. Pelter*, K. Pawlus, A. Henderlong “Molecular Modeling in Sophomore Organic Chemistry: Implementation of a Guided-Inquiry Approach.” Abstracts of Papers, MWRM 2009 – 44th Midwest Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Iowa City, IA (October 2009)

M. W. Pelter*, L. S. W. Pelter*, A. E. Walsko, R. Longfellow “Synthesis and Activity of Fluorous-Phase Oxime Palladacycle Catalysts.”  Abstracts of Papers, MWRM 2009 – 44th Midwest Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Iowa City, IA (October 2009)

L. S. W. Pelter,* A. Amico, N. Gordon, C. Martin, D. Sandifer, M. W. Pelter, “Analysis of Peppermint Leaf and Spearmint Leaf Extracts by Thin Layer Chromatography.” Journal of Chemical Education, 2008, 85, 133-134.

L. S. W. Pelter, “Microwave versus Thermal Heating in the Sonogashira Cross-Coupling Reactions: Activity and Selectivity of Catalysts,” Presented at the ACS Central Regional Meeting CERMACS, Covington, Kentucky, May 2007.

R. E. Verduzco, J. M. McDonald, M. W. Pelter, L. S. W. Pelter, “Selectivity and Reactivity of Sonogashira Coupling Reactions.” Abstracts of Papers, CERMACS2007 – Central Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Covington, KY (May 2007).

L. S. W. Pelter* and M. W. Pelter* “Microwave Heating in the Undergraduate Organic Laboratory.”  Abstracts of Papers, 19th Biennial Conference on Chemical Education, West Lafayette, IN (August 2006)

Takacs, J. M.;  Venkataraman, S.; Andrews, R. N.; Pelter, L. S. W., “N-Heterocyclic Carbene–Palladium Catalysts for the Bisdiene Cyclization-Trapping reaction with Sulfonamides under Thermal and Microwave Conditions,” J. Organomet. Chem., 2005, 690, 6205-6209.  DOI: 10.1016/j.jorganchem.2005.08.048

L. S. W. Pelter*, B. Heiberger, S. E. Brown, M. Pelter, “Synthesis and coupling of halogenated benzene compounds useful in the construction of nanoelectronic components” Abstracts of Papers, 230th American Chemical Society National Meeting, Washington, DC, (August 2005).

L. S. W. Pelter, “Process oriented guided inquiry learning (POGIL) in nanotechnology for introductory science courses,” Abstracts of Papers, 230th American Chemical Society National Meeting, Washington, DC, (August 2005).

M. W. Pelter,  L. S. W. Pelter, D. Colovic, R. Strug “The Microscale Synthesis of 1-Bromo-3-chloro-5-iodobenzene:  An Improved Deamination of 4-Bromo-2-Chloro-6-iodoaniline.”  Journal of Chemical Education, 2004, 81, 111-112.

R. J. Strug, K. R. Berg, A. S. Gorcowski, S. L. Snyder, S. E. Brown, L. Pelter, M. Pelter, “Combinatorial Approach to Organic Synthesis of Nanoelectronic Components”  Abstracts of Papers, 18th National Conference On Undergraduate Research (NCUR 2004), Indianapolis, IN.  (April 2004)

M. W. Pelter,  L. S. W. Pelter, R. Strug, K. Berg, A. Gorkowski, “Combinatorial Screening of Reagents and Catalysts in Homogeneous Metal Mediated Cross-Coupling Reactions”  Abstracts of Papers, 38th National Organic Symposium, Bloomington, IN. (June 2003).

M. W. Pelter, L. S. W. Pelter, D. Colovic, R. Strug, “Linking Strategies for Solid Phase Synthesis:  Polymer Supported Synthesis of Conjugated Oligomers” Council on Undergraduate Research Undergraduate Research Posters on the Hill, Washington, DC. (April 2002)

M. W. Pelter, L. S. W. Pelter, J. M. Tour, D. Colovic, V. Eulloqui, “Polymer Supported Synthesis of Conjugated Oligomers:  Linking Strategies for Solid Phase Synthesis” Abstracts of Papers, 36th Midwest Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Lincoln, NE (October 2001)


  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Nanomaterials and nanoscale science
  • Organometallics