Dan G. Sykes

Dan G. Sykes

Main Content

  • Senior Lecturer
  • Director of Analytical Laboratory Instruction
330 Whitmore Laboratory
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 863-0796


  1. B.S., University of Oregon, 1985
  2. Ph.D., The University of Alberta, 1990

Selected Publications:

Bandura, A.V., Sykes, D.G., Kubicki, J.D. and Evarestov, R.A. Adsorption of water on the TiO 2 (Rutile) (110) surface: A comparison of periodic and embedded cluster calculations.  Journal of Physical Chemistry A 108, No. 23, 7844-7853. (2004)

Kubicki, J.D. and Sykes, D.G. Ab initio calculation of 1H, 17O, 27Al and 29Si NMR parameters, vibrational frequencies and bonding energetics in hydrous silica and Na-aluminosilicate glasses.  Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 68, 3909-3918. (2004)

Kubicki, J.D., Sykes, D. and Apitz, S.E., Ab Initio Calculation of Aqueous Aluminum and Aluminum-Carboxylate Energetics and NMR Chemical Shifts, J. Phys. Chem. A, 103, 903-915 (1999).

Sykes, D., Kubicki, J.D. and Farrar, T.C., Basis Set Dependency of 27Al and 29Si Chemical Shieldings and Application to Structural Models of Hydrous Aluminosilicate Glasses, J. Phys. Chem., 101, no. 14, 2715-2722 (1997).

Sykes, D. and Kubicki, J.D., Four-membered Rings in Silica and Aluminosilicate Glasses, American Mineralogist, 81, no. 3 and 4, 265-272 (1996).

Kubicki, J.D. and Sykes, D., Molecular Orbital Calculations on The Vibrational Spectra of Q3 T-(OH) Species and The Hydrolysis of a 3-Membered Aluminosilicate Ring, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 59, no. 23, 4791-4797 (1995).

Sykes, D., Rossman, G.R., Veblen, D. and Grew, E.S., Enhanced H and F Incorporation in Borian Olivines from The Tayozhnoye Deposit, Russia, American Mineralogist,79, no. 9 and 10, 904-908 (1994).


Development of inquiry-based research projects for analytical and physical chemistry laboratory courses that are thematically coupled to the core laboratory exercises.  Theoretical and spectroscopic investigations of the structures and properties of chemical substances of environmental and forensic concern; fate and transport of in/organic species in soil systems; volatile solubility mechanisms in silicates and silicate glasses; exchange mechanisms between aqueous/organic-rich fluids and mineral surfaces.  The fundamental goal of our investigations is to elucidate the correlation between the important macroscopic properties of these materials with interactions at the molecular and atomic levels.

Chemical Education

Research in the area of chemical education focuses on the development of curricula that combine fundamental skills building laboratory exercises, in which students work independently of each other, with research projects that engage students through group work and self-discovery. The laboratory exercises are designed to engage students in solving open-ended research problems that are challenging and involve most of the concepts covered in the course. Students must read the scientific literature, develop their own strategies for solving the problem, implement the plans, trouble-shoot the problems, revise the procedures, analyze the data, write-up the results, and defend their conclusions. Along with learning the chemistry, students will develop experience with computer-interfaced instrumentation, computer-assisted data acquisition, and manipulation of large data sets using computers. These are all crucially important skills that must be developed in students training to be scientists. In the process, the students develop their critical thinking skills, their ability to handle new problems, their group abilities, and develop accurate and precise laboratory techniques that are necessary for successful completion of the projects.

Our goal is to engage undergraduates in cutting edge scientific research through a very structured guided-inquiry learning experience with the hope that they will be stimulated to the point of pursuing careers in science or engineering.