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. 


Light-induced Metal Ion Burst Reactions Allow for Temporally Controlled Zn2+ Release from Photocages at the NanoscaleCheryle Nicole Beuning, Noah E. Barkley, Prem N. Basa, Shawn C. Burdette, Nancy E. Levinger, Debbie C. Crans Inorganic Chemistry , 1, 2020.
Photophysical characterization of metal ion burst: Photolytic decarboxylation of Zn(II)-nitrilotriacetate cage to release a burst of Zn(II) ions and retrieval by Zincon within AOT-isooctane reverse micellesCheryle Nicole Beuning, Noah E. Barkley, Prem N. Basa, Shawn C. Burdette, Nancy E. Levinger, Debbie C. Crans Langmuir.
ConfChem Conference on Mathematics in Undergraduate Chemistry Instruction: Applied Mathematics for Chemistry MajorsRachel Augusta Neville, Patrick D. Shipman, Nancy E. Levinger, Amber Teresa Krummel JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL EDUCATION, 8, 2018.
Sweet Confinement: Glucose and Carbohydrate Osmolytes in Reverse MicellesBenjamin Paul Wiebenga-Sanford, Jack B. Washington, Brett Cosgrove, Eduardo F. Palomares, Derrick A. Vasquez, Christopher D. Rithner, Nancy E. Levinger JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B, 41, 2018.
Sweet confinement: Interactions of sugars confined at molecular interfacesNancy E. Levinger, Benjamin Paul Wiebenga-Sanford ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, 2018.
Tribute to Veronica VaidaD. James Donaldson, Joseph S. Francisco, Vicki H. Grassian, Russell J. Hemley, David M. Jonas, Kenneth R. Leopold, Nancy E. Levinger JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY A, 5, 2018.
So you have an what?Will be published as a YouTube Video for the Univ MN Community of Chemistry Graduate Students seriesNancy E. Levinger
The Window of OpportunityMom the Chemistry Professor: Personal Accounts and Advice from Chemistry Professors who are MothersNancy E. Levinger Springer International Publishing, 2018.
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.
2016 - 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.