Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

Ryan Denton Ph.D.

Academic Specialist, Chemistry
Director of Organic Laboratories


Ph.D., Chemistry, IUPUI, Indianapolis, IN, 2003-2009, Advisor: Dr. Stephanie E. Sen.  Thesis: Isoprenoid Metabolism in Lepidopteran Insects and Plants

BA, Chemistry, Anderson University, Anderson, IN, 1999-2003, Minor: Computer Science

Current Research

Educational Research Interests

  • Investigating implementation of contextualized laboratories based upon drug discovery into chemistry and biology lab classrooms. This program known as Distributed Drug Discovery (D3) was recently awarded an NSF TUES grant (co-PI, 5/12-5/14, $200,000, DUE-1140602)
  • Developed a hybrid online curriculum, including demonstrational videos and online lectures, for the first semester organic chemistry lab. Though online curricula and learning tools are becoming commonplace in the science education landscape, a need for relevant data sets to prove their effectiveness is still apparent.
  • Created an organic chemistry knowledge base ( for use in the first semester organic lecture. To our knowledge this is the first such application of a knowledge base in organic chemistry. The knowledge base itself combines advantages of online textbooks, wikis, and blogs and adds a powerful search engine and extremely valuable assessment tools that will hopefully lead to important developments in cyberlearning.
  • Supporting introduction of novel group-based discussion sections for the first semester organic chemistry lecture at IUPUI.
  • Overseeing chemical education research in discovery-based and guided-inquiry lab development.

Chemical Research Interests

Currently investigating the competitive reduction of multi-functional molecules using catalytic transfer hydrogenation (CTH). In collaboration with Dr. Julia Arciero, from the Department of Mathematical Sciences, mathematical models are being developed to understand the effects of various solvents upon the complex set of mechanistic processes occuring during CTH.

Research Background

  • Developed a novel radiosynthesis of an isoprenoid substrate needed for enzymological assays
  • Synthesized a variety of radioactive and non-radioactive substrate analogs and small molecule inhibitors for biological targets
  • Designed an extraction and derivatization protocol for gas chromatography analysis of amino acid derivatives in Arabidopsis thaliana
  • Expressed, purified, and characterized recombinant C. fumiferana isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase, including subsequent assays and kinetics experiments

Select Publications

Cloning, expression and characterization of lepidopteran isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase.  Sen, Stephanie E.; Tomasello, Ashley; Grasso, Michael; Denton, Ryan; Macor, Joseph; Beliveau, Catherine; Cusson, Michel; Crowell, Dring N.  Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Ahead of Print.

Arabidopsis thaliana plants possess a specific farnesylcysteine lyase that is involved in detoxification and recycling of farnesylcysteine. Crowell, Dring; Huizinga, Dave; Deem, Angela; Trobaugh, Corey; Denton, Ryan; and Sen, Stephanie. The Plant Journal (2007), 50, 839-847.

Farnesylcysteine lyase is involved in negative regulation of abscisic acid signaling in Arabidopsis. Huizinga, David; Denton, Ryan; Koehler, Kelly; Tomasello, Ashley; Wood, Lyndsay; Sen, Stephanie; Crowell, Dring. Molecular Plant (2010), 3, 143-155.

Awards & Honors

Purdue University, Indianapolis, IN, School of Science Graduate Student Council Travel Award (May 2008)

Government Assistance in Areas of National Need Fellowship (2003-2006)