Math & Science

Eric Melby

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Welcome to chemistry at Columbia Basin College! I am excited to share my passion for chemistry with students of all backgrounds as they develop their knowledge of chemical principles and the enormous impact they have on our world. Whether you plan to major in the health sciences, engineering, or one of the fundamental sciences, you will find that chemistry is a central theme in your education and career. Through chemistry we can begin to understand the grand challenges we face on this planet (such as climate change, food/water scarcity, human health, and energy) and develop innovative solutions to these challenges.

 My passion for education and chemistry grew from exceptional middle school math and high school chemistry teachers, and from that point I was dedicated to becoming a high school chemistry teacher. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008, but just before completing this degree I started working in a research lab on campus and realized that I wanted to pursue scientific research further. I continued at the University of Wisconsin to complete my Master of Science degree in Soil Science in 2010, where the research for my thesis focused on the synthesis, detection, and application of phosphate ion labeled with the 18O isotope. After completing this degree my wife and I moved to Colorado, where I taught high school chemistry (and played in the mountains).

While I loved my job (and playing in the mountains), my continued desire to pursue scientific research led me to return to school (again at the University of Wisconsin – go Badgers!) to earn my Doctor of Philosophy degree in Environmental Chemistry and Technology in 2016. The research for my thesis focused on studying the interactions between nanoparticles and cellular membranes in an attempt to understand potentially toxic effects of nanoparticles. My wife and I moved to the Tri-Cities in 2015, prior to completing this degree, so that I could conduct research at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) using super-resolution fluorescence microscopes (they are as fancy as they sound). Following my Ph.D. I continued at PNNL as a postdoctoral research fellow, but knew that I ultimately wanted to become a professor at a community college to bring together my love of teaching and research. My career dream became a reality in 2017 when I joined the faculty at Columbia Basin College.


P.h.D., M.S., B.S., University of Wisconsin-Madison

Understanding plant-mediated dissolution of potassium containing minerals
Using grape pomace as a biosorbent for the removal of heavy metals
Synthesis and evaluation of graphene oxide sponges for contaminant removal
Analysis of the physical and chemical properties of gold nanoparticles

Preferential interactions of primary amine-terminated quantum dots with membrane domain boundaries and lipid rafts revealed with nanometer resolution, Environmental Science: Nano, in review

Surface coating structure and its interaction with cytochrome c in EG6 coated nanoparticles varies with surface curvature, Langmuir, in review

Quantitative mapping of oxidative stress response to lithium cobalt oxide nanoparticles in single cells using multiplexed in situ gene expression analysis, Nano Letters, 2019

Impact of lithiated cobalt oxide and phosphate nanoparticles on rainbow trout gill epithelial cells, Nanotoxicology, 2018

Lipid corona formation from nanoparticle interactions with bilayers, Chem, 2018

Peripheral membrane proteins facilitate nanoparticle binding at lipid bilayer interfaces, Langmuir, 2018

Malic acid carbon dots: from super-resolution live-cell imaging to highly efficient separation, ACS Nano, 2018

Cascading effects of nanoparticle coatings: Surface functionalization dictates the assemblage of complexed proteins and subsequent interaction with model cell membranes, ACS Nano, 2017

Resonantly enhanced nonlinear optical probes of oxidized multiwalled carbon nanotubes at supported lipid bilayers, The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 2017

Cells respond to distinct nanoparticle properties with multiple strategies as revealed by single-cell RNA-seq, ACS Nano, 2016

Impact of nanoscale lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) on the bacterium Shewanella oneidensis MR-1, Chemistry of Materials, 2016

Formation of supported lipid bilayers containing phase-segregated domains and their interaction with gold nanoparticles, Environmental Science: Nano, 2016

Alteration of membrane compositional asymmetry by LiCoO2 nanosheets, ACS Nano, 2015

Lipopolysaccharide density and structure govern the extent and distance of nanoparticle interaction with actual and model bacterial outer membranes, Environmental Science and Technology, 2015

Direct probes of 4 nm diameter gold nanoparticles interacting with supported lipid bilayers. The Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 2014

Preferential soil sorption of oxygen-18-labeled phosphate, Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 2013

Biological decay of 18O-labeled phosphate in soils, Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 2013

Evaluation of mowing height and fertilizer application rate on quality and weed abundance of five home lawn grasses, Weed Technology, 2012

Synthesis and detection of oxygen-18 labeled phosphate, PLoS One, 2011