Joel M. Harris


Distinguished Professor

B.S., 1972, Duke University
Ph.D., 1976, Purdue University

Activities & Awards

  • Distinguished Teaching Award in Chemistry, University of Utah, 1978
  • David P. Gardner Faculty Fellow, 1981
  • Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, 1985-1989
  • Coblentz Memorial Prize in Molecular Spectroscopy, 1986
  • University of Utah Distinguished Research Award, 1988
  • ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry Award in Chemical Instrumentation, 1991
  • Pittsburgh Analytical Award, 1999
  • Editor-In-Chief, Applied Spectroscopy, 1998-2009
  • SAS New York Section Gold Medal Award, 2002
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, 2004
  • ACS Award in Analytical Chemistry, 2005
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, Purdue University, 2005
  • Society for Applied Spectroscopy Fellow, 2006
  • ACS Utah Award in Chemistry, 2006
  • Robert W. Parry Teaching Award, University of Utah, 2008
  • Society for Applied Spectrscopy, Distinguished Service Award, 2009
  • American Microchemical Society A.A. Benedetti-Pichler Award, 2010
  • FACSS Conference Innovation Award, 2011
  • Coblentz Society Bomem-Michelson Award, 2012
  • Honorary Membership Award, Society of Applied Spectroscopy, 2012
  • University of Utah Distinguished Teaching Award, 2014
  • Utah Governor's Medal for Science and Technology, 2016
  • American Chemical Society – Division of Analytical Chemistry, Chair, 2016 - 2017

Research Interests

The research of the Harris Group involves the application of spectroscopic methods to investigate the chemistry of liquid/solid interfaces. Many steps in chemical analysis (separation, preconcentration, selective detection) involve adsorption or binding of target species to chemically-modified surfaces in contact with liquids. The transport of molecules to the surface and then laterally along the interfacial plane, influences the rates of surface reactions, catalysis, and the efficiency of chemical separation processes.

There is a significant need to understand chemical structure and reaction kinetics at interfaces between liquids and solids, and the Harris lab is addressing this challenge by developing new spectroscopic imaging methods for the analysis of chemical structure and kinetics at liquid/solid interfaces. In particular, confocal Raman microscopy is being applied to determining the chemical composi­tion of interfacial species within individual porous particles.  This experiment is also being developed for single-particle, solid-phase extraction to enable rapid, ultra-trace level Raman scattering detection in very small (10-fL) volumes. The kinetics of molecular transport and binding to surfaces is being characterized by single-molecule fluorescence imaging, to understand the role of these processes influence chemical separations and sensors. Changes in interfacial molecular populations and chemical structure in response to applied electrical potentials are being investigated by surface-enhanced Raman scattering and single-molecule imaging. Small potentials applied to conductive surfaces can manipulate the structure of the interface, change interfacial populations of ions, and control inter­actions with analytes in solution, yielding sensors and separations with controllable selectivity and reversibility.

In the area of biological chemistry, membrane interfaces play a key role in the regulation of cell functioning, communication, and homeostasis, and most biosensors rely on selective binding interactions at chemically-modified surfaces. Single-molecule fluorescence imaging can report absolute molecular surface densities of both probe sites and bound analytes at a biosensor surface. This information is needed to understand the thermodynamics of surface-binding reactions. Imaging the kinetics of binding and unbinding of individual molecules at equilibrium enables measurement of interfacial reaction rates that are not limited by the rate of molecular transport to biosensor surfaces. When combined with binding isotherms, a complete picture of the kinetics of biomolecule interactions and their energetics can be developed. These concepts are being applied to studies of peptide binding to supported lipid bilayers, which are relevant to signaling peptide access to membrane-bound receptors, to intercalation of pore-forming peptides in membranes, and to the behavior of proteins at biosensor surfaces that employ planar lipid bilayers as biocompatible supports. Quantitative single-molecule imaging is also being adapted to measuring equilibria and kinetics of DNA hybridization. In addition to fundamental studies, single-molecule imaging can also serve as an analytical method that enables detection of very low concentrations of target DNA in samples. The small fraction (< 10-6) of DNA probe binding sites occupied with bound analyte at the limit of detection yields a powerful method for determining extremely low (sub-zeptomol) levels of target DNA in a sample.

Joel Harris is a member of the Nano Institute of Utah and Utah MRSEC.

Recent Publications

  • "Confocal Raman Microscopy for Monitoring the Membrane Polymerization and Thermochromism of Individual, Optically Trapped Diacetylenic Phospholipid Vesicles", Jonathan J. Schaefer, Christopher B. Fox, and Joel M. Harris, J. Raman. Spectroscopy, 43, 351 (2012).
  • "Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering Study of the Kinetics of Self Assembly of Carboxylate-Terminated n-Alkanethiols on Silver," Chaoxiong Ma and Joel M. Harris, Langmuir, 28, 2628 (2012).
  • "Confocal Raman Microscopy Probing of Temperature-Controlled Release from Individual, Optically-Trapped Phospholipid Vesicles," Jonathan J. Schaefer , Chaoxiong Ma , and Joel M. Harris, Analytical Chemistry, 84, 9505 (2012).
  • "Microscopic Rates of Peptide-Phospholipid Bilayer Interactions from Single-Molecule Residence Times," Grant A. Myers, Daniel A. Gacek, Eric M. Peterson, Christopher B. Fox,, and Joel M. Harris, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 134, 19652 (2012).
  • "Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy Detection of Ionic Solutes by Surfactant-Mediated Adsorption to a Hydrophobic Surface," Chaoxiong Ma, and Joel M. Harris, Applied Spectroscopy, 67, 801 (2013).
  • "Single-Molecule Fluorescence Imaging of DNA at a Potential-Controlled Interface," Eric M. Peterson and Joel M. Harris, Langmuir, 29, 8292 (2013).
  • "Imaging Fluorescent Nanoparticles to Probe Photo-Induced Charging of a Semiconductor-Solution Interface," Langmuir, 29, 11941 (2013).
  • "Fluorescence Imaging of Single-Molecule Retention Trajectories in Reversed Phase Chromatographic Particles," Justin Cooper, Eric M. Peterson, and Joel M. Harris, Analytical Chemistry, 85, 9363 (2013).
  • "Confocal Raman Microscopy for In-Situ Detection of Solid-Phase Extraction of Pyrene into Single C18-Silica Particles," Jay P. Kitt and Joel M. Harris, Analytical Chemistry, 86, 1719 (2014).
  • “Confocal Raman Microscopy for Investigating Synthesis and Characterization of Individual Optically-Trapped Vinyl-Polymerized Surfactant Particles”, Jonathan J. Schaefer, Alexis C. Crawford, Marc D. Porter, and Joel M. Harris, Applied Spectroscopy (cover feature article), 68, 633 (2014).
  • "Imaging Fluorescence-Correlation Spectroscopy for Measuring Fast Surface Diffusion at Liquid/Solid Interfaces," Justin Cooper and Joel M. Harris, Analytical Chemistry, 86, 7618 (2014).
  • “Fluorescence-Correlation Spectroscopy Study of Molecular Transport within Reversed-Phase Chromatographic Particles Compared to Planar Model Surfaces,” Justin Cooper and Joel M. Harris, Analytical Chemistry, 86, 11766 (2014).
  • “UV Fluorescence Lifetime Modification by Aluminum Nanoapertures,” Xiaojin Jiao, Eric M. Peterson, Joel M. Harris, and Steve Blair, ACS Photonics, 1, 1270 (2014).
  • “Spatial Filtering of a Diode Laser Beam for Confocal Raman Microscopy,” Jay P. Kitt, David A. Bryce, and Joel M. Harris, Applied Spectroscopy, 69, 513 (2015).
  • “Confocal Raman Microscopy for In situ Measurement of Octanol-Water Partitioning within the Pores of Individual C18-Functionalized Chromatographic Particles,” Jay P. Kitt and Joel M. Harris, Analytical Chemistry, 87, 5340 (2015).
  • “Confocal Raman Microscopy for pH-Gradient Preconcentration and Quantitative Analyte Detection in Optically-trapped Phospholipid Vesicles,” Chris D. Hardcastle and Joel M. Harris, Analytical Chemistry, 87, 7979 (2015).
  • Super-Resolution Imaging and Quantitative Analysis of Membrane Protein/Lipid Raft Clustering Mediated by Cell-Surface Self-Assembly of Hybrid Nanoconjugates," Jonathan M. Hartley, Te-Wei Chu2, Eric M. Peterson, Rui Zhang, Jiyuan Yang, Joel M. Harris and Jindřich Kopeček, ChemBioChem, 16, 1725 (2015).
  • "Spatially-Multiplexed Imaging-Fluorescence-Correlation Spectroscopy for Efficient Measurement of Molecular Diffusion at Solid/Liquid Interfaces," Justin Cooper and Joel M. Harris, Applied Spectroscopy, 70, 695 (2016).
  • "Calorimetry-Derived Composition Vectors to Resolve Component Raman Spectra in Phospholipid Phase Transitions," Jay P. Kitt, David A. Bryce, and Joel M. Harris, Applied Spectroscopy, 70, 1165 (2016).
  • "Single-Molecule Fluorescence Imaging of Interfacial DNA Hybridization Kinetics at Selective Capture Surfaces," Eric M. Peterson, Michael W. Manhart. and Joel M. Harris, Analytical Chemistry, 88, 1345 (2016).
  • "Competitive Assays of Label-Free DNA Hybridization with Single-Molecule Fluorescence Imaging Detection," Eric M. Peterson, Michael W. Manhart, and Joel M. Harris, Analytical Chemistry, 88, 6410 (2016).
  • “Confocal Raman Microscopy of Hybrid Supported Phospholipid Bilayers within Individual C18 Functionalized Chromatographic Particles,” Jay P. Kitt and Joel M. Harris, Langmuir, 32, 9033 (2016).

Last Updated: 1/18/17