Nancy Levinger Professor and University Distinguished Teaching Scholar

Office: Chemistry C205

Phone: (970) 491-1331


Curriculum Vitae:

Google Scholar:


  • Ph.D., University of Colorado
  • B.A., Northwestern University, Integrated Science and Physics


Research in the Levinger group has two main thrusts: dynamics of molecules in confined environments and fundamental processes governing cell cryopreservation. 

Dynamics in nanoconfinement
For many years, we have explored the role of nanoconfinement on the structure and dynamics of molecules in the condensed phase.  We are particularly interested in learning how the heterogeneous environment at liquid interfaces influences molecules residing there and the chemistry that then occurs. We have used reverse micelles as a model system to prepare well defined liquid droplets on the nanoscale. Reverse micelles form in ternary or higher order mixtures of polar, nonpolar and amphiphilic molecules.  Most often, the polar solvent used is water but we have also explored a range of non-aqueous polar solvents for these systems including ordinary organic solvents such as ethylene glycol, DMSO, formamide, etc. as well as novel room temperature ionic liquids.  We have utilized the workhorse surfactant, AOT, for many of our studies as well as phospholipids, cationic and nonionic surfactants.  We have utilized a range of experimental techniques, including steady state and ultrafast time-resolved laser spectroscopies, 1D, 2D and multinuclear NMR, and neutron scattering.
Fundamental processes governing cell cryopreservation
A new thrust for the Levinger group explores how and why some cells can withstand freezing conditions that would normally kill them. We are embarking on a project to explore the role of permeating cryopreservation agents, e.g., glycerol, DMSO.  This project aims to uncover how these small molecules cross cell membranes, where they reside in cells and how they protect cells from cold. 


Femtosecond to nanosecond dynamics of confined coumarin 343 by ultrafast pump-probe spectroscopy: new insights from an established systemRichard Leo Cole, Bridget L. Gourley, Fionna Morningstar Samuels, Nancy E. Levinger Journal of Physical Chemistry B.
Sweet Confinement: Glucose and other carbohydrates in reverse micellesJournal of Physical Chemistry BBenjamin Paul Wiebenga-Sanford, Christopher D. Rithner, Jack Washington, Brett Cosgrove, Eduardo L. Palomares, Derrick Vasquez, Nancy E. Levinger Journal of Physical Chemistry B.
The Window of OpportunityMom the Chemistry Professor: Personal Accounts and Advice from Chemistry Professors who are MothersNancy E. Levinger Springer International Publishing.
Nanoconfinement’s Dramatic Impact on Proton Exchange between Glucose and WaterBenjamin Paul Wiebenga-Sanford, Joseph A. DiVerdi, Christopher D. Rithner, Nancy E. Levinger Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, 22, 2016.
Size and shape trump charge in interactions of oxovanadates with self-assembled interfaces: application of continuous shape measure analysis to the decavanadate anionI. Sanchez-Lombardo, B. Baruah, S. Alvarez, K. R. Werst, N. A. Segaline, Nancy E. Levinger, Debbie C. Crans New Journal of Chemistry, 2, 2016.
How Did We Get Here? Teaching Chemistry with a Historical PerspectiveKristin A. Olsson, Meena M. Balgopal, Nancy E. Levinger Journal of Chemical Education, 11, 2015.
How Did We Get Here? Teaching Chemistry with a Historical PerspectiveKristin A. Olsson, Meena M. Balgopal, Nancy E. Levinger Journal of Chemical Education, 11, 2015.
Tribute to Branka M. LadanyiNancy E. Levinger, M. Maroncelli, R. M. Stratt Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 29, 2015.
Correlation of Insulin-Enhancing Properties of Vanadium-Dipicolinate Complexes in Model Membrane Systems: Phospholipid Langmuir Monolayers and AOT Reverse MicellesA. G. Sostarecz, E. Gaidamauskas, S. Distin, S. J. Bonetti, Nancy E. Levinger, Debbie C. Crans Chemistry-a European Journal, 17, 2014.
Correlating Proton Transfer Dynamics To Probe Location in Confined EnvironmentsM. Sedgwick, Richard Leo Cole, Christopher D. Rithner, Debbie C. Crans, Nancy E. Levinger Journal of the American Chemical Society, 29, 2012.
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