Dr. Andrew Petit

Office: MH-582A
Phone: (657) 278-5214

Email: apetit@fullerton.edu

Lab: MH-570
Phone: (657) 278-2357

Andrew Petit

Assistant Professor Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


Research Interests 

The Petit lab is a theoretical chemistry lab that is focused on using modern computational tools as a means of answering fundamental questions about what happens after molecules absorb light and become excited.  Current specific research projects include:

Understanding the Physical Organic Chemistry of Reactive Intermediates

In collaboration with the de Lijser laboratory at CSUF, we use modern density functional theory approaches to model the reaction mechanism through which oxime and oxime ether radical cations cyclize.  Specifically, we are interested in mapping out the connection between molecular structure of the radical cations and their reactivity towards cyclization.  The understanding obtained through our study has the potential to lead to a new, environmentally friendly synthetic route towards heterocycles, compounds that are commonly found in pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and dyes.

Developing Structure-Photochemical Function Relationships in Photobases

Photobases are molecules that are transformed from weak bases into strong bases after absorbing light and becoming electronically excited. 5-aminoquinoline, for example, has its Kb increase from 2.45x10-9 to 79.43 after absorbing light, an increase by over 10 orders of magnitude!  Our group is applying density functional theory towards understanding how changing the molecular structure of photobases affects their photochemical properties, specifically photobasicity, excitation energy, and propensity to undergo intersystem crossing.  This work has the potential to influence the design of new photocatalysts.

Studying the Photochemistry of Brown Carbon Aerosol Particles

Brown carbon aerosol particles are collections of molecules in the atmosphere that contain organics which absorb visible and ultraviolet light.  Brown carbon aerosol particles contribute to the global climate through their interaction with solar light as well as atmospheric chemistry through photochemical reactions.  In collaboration with the Kidwell lab at the College of William and Mary, we aim to better understand the photochemistry of common components of brown carbon aerosol particles.  This works ranges from unraveling competing pathways in the photodissociation of nitrosothiophenol to understanding the mechanism of energy transfer in collisions between electronically excited NO and O2.

Use of Computational Chemistry and Simulations to Help Students Visualize Abstract Ideas

We are broadly interested in developing activities that use computational chemistry and simulations to help students visualize abstract ideas and draw connections between the macroscopic and microscopic properties of matter.  We have developed a series of activities for physical and inorganic chemistry to help students understand key concepts in molecular orbital theory and spectroscopy.  These activities also expose students to modern computational chemistry by requiring them to setup input files, run the calculations, and interpret the results.   We have also developed a series of activities for physical chemistry focused on illustrating ideas involving statistical mechanics and thermodynamics.


Postdoctoral- University of Pennsylvania with Professor Joseph E. Subotnik
Ph.D. in Chemical Physics at The Ohio State University under Professor Anne B. McCoy
B.S. in Chemistry and B.A. in Physics from the University of Pittsburgh

Selected Publications

Publications with CSUF Student Coauthors

Alamudun, S.F., Tanovitz, K., Espinosa, L., Fajardo, A., Galvan, J., Petit, A.S. “Structure-Photochemical Function Relationships in the Photobasicity of Aromatic Heterocycles Containing Multiple Ring Nitrogen Atoms” J. Phys. Chem. A, In Press (2021). https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpca.0c07013

Evans, A.C., Petit, A.S., Guillen, S.G., Neukirch, A.J., Hoffmann, S.V., Jones, N.C. “Chiroptical Characterization Tools for Asymmetric Small Molecules – Experimental and Computational Approaches for Electronic Circular Dichroism (ECD) and Anisotropy Spectroscopy” RSC Advances, In Press (2021). https://doi.org/10.1039/D0RA06832B

Kim, W.S., Espinoza, V.M., Abiad, A., Ko, M., Council, A., Nguyen, A., Marsalla, L., Lee, V., Tran, T., Petit, A.S., de Lijser, H.J.P. “Mechanistic Investigation of the Formation of Isoindole N-Oxides in the Electron Transfer-Mediated Oxidative Cyclization of 2’-Alkynylacetophenone Oximes” J. Org. Chem. 86, 693-708 (2021). https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.joc.0c02318

Blackshaw, K.J., Marracci, M., Korb, R.T., Quartey, N.-K., Ajmani, A.K., Hood, D. J., Abelt, C.J., Ortega, B.I., Luong, K., Petit, A.S., Kidwell, N.M. “Dynamical Signatures from Competing Nonadiabatic Fragementation Pathways of S-Nitrosothiophenol” Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 22, 12187-12199 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1039/d0cp00941e

Alamudun, S.F., Tanovitz, K., Fajardo, A., Johnson, K., Pham, A., Jamshidi Araghi, T., Petit, A.S. “Structure-Photochemical Function Relationships in Nitrogen-Containing Heterocyclic Aromatic Photobases Derived from Quinoline” J. Phys. Chem. A. 124, 13, 2537-2546 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpca.9b11375

Ulloa, L.K., Kong, S., Vigil, A.M., Petit, A.S. “Computational Investigation of Substituent Effects on the Formation and Intramolecular Cyclization of 2’-Arylbenzaldehyde and 2’-Arylacetophenone Oxime Ether Radical Cations” J. Org. Chem. 84, 22, 14659-14669 (2019).  https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.joc.9b02240

Blackshaw, K.J., Ortega, B.I., Quartey, N.-K., Fritzeen, W.E., Korb, R.T., Ajmani, A.K, Mongomery, L., Marracci, M., Vanegas, G.G., Galvan, J., Sarvas, Z., Petit, A.S., Kidwell, N.M. “Nonstatistical Dissociation Dynamics of Nitroaromatic Chromophores” J. Phys. Chem. A 123, 19, 4262-4273 (2019).  https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpca.9b02312

Google Scholar Link: https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=fzOtuO0AAAAJ


Courses Taught

Office Hours (Zoom)

CHEM 120B W 11-11:50am & 2-2:50pm, F 11-11:50am and by appointment. CHEM 371A TTH 9-9:50am and by appointment.