Joel M. Harris


Distinguished Professor

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




Joel is not recruiting new Ph.D. graduate students into his lab.  His research program is flourishing and supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy.  Undergraduates, BS/MS students, and postdoctoral associates are welcome to apply for positions in the lab.

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 Spectroscopy, 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
  • University of Utah, Calvin S. & JeNeal N. Hatch Prize in Teaching, 2019
  • ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry Award in Spectrochemical Analaysis, 2019
  • Eastern Analytical Symposium Fields Award in Analytical Chemistry, 2019

Research Interests

The research of the Harris Group involves the application of spectroscopic microscopy 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 the area of bioanalytical 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. Imaging and counting of individual fluorescent molecules 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.

Despite the ability of fluorescence imaging to report biorecognition association kinetics at the single-molecule level, labeling of biomolecules for fluorescence detection adds time and cost in sample preparation; furthermore, labels can contribute to the measured interactions. Spectroscopic detection of biorecognition could benefit from an alternative approach that is both label-free and structurally informative. During the past 5 years, the Harris lab has employed confocal Raman microscopy to report vibrational spectra of solutes within individual chromatographic silica particles to investigate interfacial chemistry relevant to reversed-phase separations. The high surface area of chromatographic silica (>100m2/g) provides “surface-area enhancement” that allow fractions of monolayers to be detected by otherwise unenhanced Raman scattering. To adapt this strategy to bioassay applications, the Harris lab recently demonstrated that supported-lipid bilayers can be deposited onto the interior surfaces of wide-pore chromatographic silica and used as protein-repellent supports for biosensing applications. In a recent landmark paper, the Harris group reported the application these pore-supported bilayers for confocal Raman microscopy detection of the selective binding of a lectin signaling protein to a glycolipid immobilized in a pore-supported lipid bilayer. Using Raman scattering from the supported-lipid bilayer as an internal-standard, the scattering from accumulated protein could be interpreted quantitatively to determine its absolute surface coverage on the lipid bilayer, where the stoichiometry of protein-ligand binding was found to be 1:1, in contrast to speculation in the literature.  Raman microscopy of supported phospholipid bilayers in high surface-area support particles was shown to be a promising approach for in situ, label-free, quantitative, and structurally-informative investigations of lipid bilayer-localized protein-ligand interactions.

Recent Publications

  • “Confocal Raman Microscopy Investigation of Molecular Transport into Individual Chromatographic Silica Particles,” David A. Bryce, Jay P. Kitt, and Joel M. Harris, Analytical Chemistry, 89, 2755 (2017).

  • “Raman Spectroscopy Reveals Selective Interactions of Cytochrome c with Cardiolipin That Correlate with Membrane Permeability,” Jay P. Kitt, David A. Bryce, Shelley D. Minteer, and Joel M. Harris, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 139, 3851 (2017).

  • “Magnesium as a Novel UV Plasmonic Material for Fluorescence Decay Rate Engineering in Free Solution,” Yunshan Wang, Eric M. Peterson, Joel M. Harris, Kanagasundar Appusamy, Sivaraman Guruswamy, and Steve Blair, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 121, 11650 (2017).

  • “Confocal Raman Microscopy for the Determination of Protein and Quaternary Ammonium Ion Loadings in Biocatalytic Membranes for Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Storage,” Rong Cai, Sofiene Abdellaoui, Jay P. Kitt, Cullen Irvine, Joel M. Harris, Shelley D. Minteer, and Carol Korzeniewski, Analytical Chemistry, 89, 13290 (2017).

  • “Vibrational Spectroscopy for the Determination of Ionizable Group Content in Ionomer Materials,” Carol Korzeniewski, Ying Liang, Pei Zhang, Iqbal Sharif, Jay P. Kitt, Joel M. Harris, Steven J. Hamrock, Stephen E. Creager, Darryl D. DesMarteau, Applied Spectroscopy, 72, 141 (2018).

  •  “Selective proton / deuteron transport through Nafion | graphene | Nafion sandwich structures at very high current density,” Saheed Bukola, Ying Liang, Carol Korzeniewski, Joel M. Harris, and Stephen Creager, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 140, 1743 (2018).

  • “Confocal-Raman Microscopy Characterization of Supported Phospholipid Bilayers Deposited on the Interior Surfaces of Chromatographic Silica,” David A. Bryce, Jay P. Kitt, and Joel M. Harris, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 140, 4071 (2018).

  • “Identification of Individual Immobilized DNA Molecules by their Hybridization Kinetics Using Single-Molecule Fluorescence Imaging,” Eric M. Peterson and Joel M. Harris, Analytical Chemistry, 90, 5007 (2018).

  • “Confocal Raman Microscopy for In-situ Measurement of Phospholipid-Water Partitioning into Model Phospholipid Bilayers within Individual Chromatographic Particles,” Jay P. Kitt, David A. Bryce, Shelley D. Minteer, and Joel M. Harris, Analytical Chemistry, 90, 7048 (2018).

  • “Confocal Raman Microscopy for Label-Free Detection of Protein-Ligand Binding at Nanopore-Supported Phospholipid Bilayers,” David A. Bryce, Jay P. Kitt, and Joel M. Harris, Analytical Chemistry, 90, 11509 (2018).

  • “Single-Molecule Kinetic Investigation of Cocaine-Dependent Split-Aptamer Assembly,” Frances D. Morris, Eric M. Peterson, Jennifer M. Heemstra, and Joel M. Harris, Analytical Chemistry, 90, 12964 (2018).

  • “Enhancement of Electrocatalytic Oxidation of Glycerol by Plasmonics,” Michelle Rasmussen, Alexey Serov, Kateryna Artyushkova, Dayi Chen, Timothy C. Rose, Plamen Atanassov, Joel M. Harris, and Shelley D. Minteer, ChemElectroChem, 6, 251 (2019).

  • “Infrared Microscopy as a Probe of Composition Within a Model Biofuel Cell Electrode Prepared from Trametes Versicolor Laccase,” Ying Liang, Rong Cai, David P. Hickey, Jay P. Kitt, Joel M. Harris, Shelley D. Minteer and Carol Korzeniewski, ChemElectroChem, 6, 818 (2019).

  • “Single Layer Graphene for Estimation of Axial Spatial Resolution in Confocal Raman Microscopy Depth Profiling,” Carol Korzeniewski, Jay P. Kitt, Saheed Bukola, Stephen E. Creager, Shelley D. Minteer, and Joel M. Harris, Analytical Chemistry, 91, 1049 (2019).

  • “Single-Layer Graphene Sandwiched between Proton-Exchange Membranes for Selective Proton Transmission,” Saheed Bukola, Kyle Beard, Carol Korzeniewski, Joel M. Harris and Stephen E. Creager, ACS Applied Nano Materials, 2, 964 (2019).

  •  “Thermostability Trends of TNA:DNA Duplexes Reveal Strong Purine Dependence,” Hershel Lackey, Eric M. Peterson, Zhe Chen, Joel M. Harris, and Jennifer M. Heemstra, ACS Synthetic Biology, 8, 1144 (2019).

  • “Confocal Raman Microscopy Investigation of Self-Assembly of Hybrid Phospholipid Bilayers within Individual Porous Silica Chromatographic Particles,” Jay P. Kitt, David A. Bryce, Shelley D. Minteer, and Joel M. Harris, Analytical Chemistry, 91, 7790 (2019).
  • “Structural Elucidation of Bisulfite Adducts to Pseudouridine that Result in Deletion Signatures during Reverse Transcription of RNA,” Journal of the American Chemical Society, Aaron M. Fleming, Anton Alenko, Jay P. Kitt, Anita M. Orendt, Peter F. Flynn, Joel M. Harris, and Cynthia J. Burrows, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 141, 16450 (2019).
  • “Super-Resolution Imaging of Competitive Unlabeled DNA Hybridization Reveals the Influence of Fluorescent Labels on Duplex Formation and Dissociation Kinetics,” Eric M. Peterson, Eric J. Reece, Wenyuan Li, and Joel M. Harris, Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 123, 10746 (2019); selected for the ACS Virtual Issue on Super-Resolution Far-Field Optical Microscopy.
  • “Single-Molecule Kinetics Show DNA Pyrimidine Content Strongly Affects RNA:DNA and TNA:DNA Heteroduplex Dissociation Rates,” Hershel Lackey, Zhe Chen, Joel M. Harris, Eric M. Peterson, and Jennifer M. Heemstra, ACS Synthetic Biology, 9, 249 (2020).
  • "Confocal Raman Microscopy Investigation of Phospholipid Monolayers Deposited on Nitrile-Modified Surfaces in Porous Silica Particles," David A. Bryce, Jay P. Kitt, Grant J. Myres, and Joel M. Harris, Langmuir, 36, 4071 (2020).
  • “Probing the Mechanism of Structure-Switching Aptamer Assembly by Super-Resolution Localization of Individual DNA Molecules,” Hershel H. Lackey, Eric M. Peterson, Joel M. Harris, and Jennifer M. Heemstra, Analytical Chemistry, 92, 6909 (2020).
  • “Hybrid-Supported Bilayers Formed with Mixed-Charge Surfactants on C18-Functionalized Silica Surfaces,” Maryam Zare, Jay P. Kitt, and Joel M. Harris, Langmuir, 36, 7609 (2020); DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.0c01210.
Last Updated: 7/8/20