• Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry


  • Bachelor of Arts, College of Wooster, 1978
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Michigan State University, 1982


Research Interests: Laboratory experiments for the analytical chemistry course.

The Thompson research group is developing a set of forensic chemistry experiments that can be used to teach instrumental analysis at the college level. Examples include gas chromatography – mass spectrometry analysis of flammables in arson cases, gas chromatographic determination of ethanol in blood in OVI cases, atomic absorption spectrophotometric methods for zinc in metal fillings and magnesium in glass, and the visible spectrophotometric analysis of inks. Crime scenarios will accompany the experiments. A published laboratory manual is the final goal.

Another area of interest is the development of laboratory experiments in forensic analytical chemistry and environmental analytical chemistry for courses at the college level.

Recent sabbaticals: FBI Research Laboratory (1997), National Institute of Standards and Technology (2003-04), Hollings Marine Laboratory (2011)

Analytical Chemistry, General Chemistry, Forensic Chemistry


Books and Articles

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.


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.