Robert (Rob) Thompson

  • Chemistry Laboratory Instructor

Areas of Study


  • BA, College of Wooster, 1978
  • PhD, Michigan State University, 1982


Research Interests: Chemical analysis of the local environment

The Thompson research group is developing a set of environmental analytical chemistry experiments that can be used to teach instrumental analysis at the college level. With the laboratory manual, students will be able to explore their local environment by analyzing, for example, dryer lint for brominated flame retardants, rice cakes for organic and inorganic arsenic, soil for organophosphorus pesticides, bedroom air for formaldehyde, and drinking water for microplastics. Instruments necessary for the analyses include a gas chromatograph, liquid chromatograph – mass spectrometer, furnace atomic absorption spectrophotometer, stripping voltammograph, and IR / Raman spectrophotometer.

A companion laboratory manual on forensic analytical chemistry has already been developed and published by the Thompson group. See links below.

Recent sabbaticals: National Institute of Standards and Technology (2003-4) and Hollings Marine Laboratory (2011)

Author of the book: Instrumental Investigations , a laboratory manual of Forensic Analytical Chemistry (download updated order form )

Feature Article: Chemistry Lab Murder Trial 

Crime Lab Article: Crime Lab

  • Thompson, R.Q.; Christopher, S.J. “Novel separation for the determination of cadmium by isotope dilution ICP-MS in samples containing high concentrations of molybdenum and tin”, Analytical Methods 2013, 5, 1346-1351.
  • Thompson, R.Q.; Loa, K. “Applications of argentation solid phase extraction to the capsaicinoids: purification of commercial standards and isolation of homodihydrocapsaicin (8-methyl) from ‘Bhut Jolokia’, Food Chemistry 2011, 126, 1424-1430.
  • Sniegoski, L.T.; Waddell, J.; Welch, M.J.; Fatah, A.A.; Gackstetter, M.; Thompson, R.Q. “Evaluation of Oral Fluid Testing Devices”; Internal Report #7585 of the Office of Law Enforcement Standards of the National Institute of Standards and Technology 2009.
  • Thompson, Robert Q. “Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in dryer lint: an advanced analysis laboratory”, Journal of Chemical Education 2008, 85, 1419-1420.


Rob Thompson gives testimony for Ohio Redistricting Commission

September 2, 2021

Professor Emeritus of Chemistry Rob Thompson gave testimony in front of Ohio’s Redistricting Commission on August 27 at Ohio State University, Mansfield. Thompson has been active with Fair Districts Ohio ( and has presented to many groups about reapportionment, redistricting, and gerrymandering. The full statement can be found on the commission’s website.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission will draw the state’s House and Senate district maps, while the Ohio Legislature will draw the Congressional map. A citizens’ rally for fair districts is planned for Tuesday, September 21, at the State Capitol in Columbus. 


New Instruments Bolster Science Research Capabilities

February 17, 2017

This January, through a combination of charitable gifts and funds from the college, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry acquired two new instruments that will greatly enhance teaching and research in many areas of chemistry and biochemistry, including environmental and forensic analysis, biochemical and peptide/protein studies, and synthesis of new bioorganic and organic compounds.

Cultivating Women in STEM

August 6, 2014

A summer research grant from Alcoa Foundation supports student-faculty collaborations in STEM fields

Weird Science at Oberlin

October 11, 2013

Not only does Oberlin excel in conventional scientific education and research, but it offers students an opportunity to study scientific subjects in unconventional and hands-on ways.