August 13, 2018
Tagged: Department of Chemistry, Adelphi Magazine

“Professor. Chemist. Gamer. Rock Star.”


by Ela Schwartz

This is how his students describe a professor who rocks—in and out of the lab.

In Blodgett Hall, you’ll find the Hyatt Research Group—Adelphi students and their professor, Ivan Fabe Dempsey Hyatt, Ph.D. Under Dr. Hyatt’s tutelage, they’re performing the work of professional chemists: discovering reactions that form molecules that may contribute to the development of new products and pharmaceuticals.

At most universities, only graduate students, or maybe juniors and seniors, would get the opportunity to work in such a lab. But in Dr. Hyatt’s lab, underclassmen are welcome.

Working in what’s called a wet lab, with undergraduates, at a school like Adelphi, in New York—it’s exactly where Dr. Hyatt wants to be.

He grew up in a small town in North Carolina “that had about 300 people,” he said. “It was a big deal when we got a stoplight in 2005.” As an undergraduate, he attended a university similar to Adelphi, then a much larger university to study computational chemistry.

His teaching preference was to get back into the wet lab at a smaller school, he said. “I always enjoyed teaching at the undergrad level, introducing new topics and working with different types of students. It’s refreshing.”

Shining a Light on Iodine

Dr. Hyatt also found his home on the periodic table working with the element iodine, specifically—and serendipitously—with molecules known as HIAT: no relationship to Dr. Hyatt, of course, but hypervalent iodonium alkynyltriflates. The term’s a mouthful, but it basically describes molecules with iodine atoms whose outer shells contain more than the element’s usual eight electrons.

One of the Hyatt Group’s projects is to create molecules that will fluoresce when sensing the higher metal concentrations found in cancer cells. The ability to pinpoint cancer cells more precisely would enable surgeons to better preserve healthy cells and organs, thus improving patients’ quality of life after surgery.

Dr. Hyatt also teaches his students presentation skills and searches for opportunities for them to conduct research, including trips to Brookhaven National Laboratory to work with the lab’s scientists and equipment.

Outside the lab, Dr. Hyatt gets reactions from audiences when he plays guitar in progressive thrash-metal bands. And he’s in the process of finishing two science fiction novels about the adventures of a tall chemist who can move atoms with his mind. Semiautobiographical? Not exactly, but we wouldn’t be surprised.

About Adelphi: A modern metropolitan university with a personalized approach to higher learning.

Adelphi University is a highly awarded, nationally ranked, powerfully connected doctoral research university offering exceptional liberal arts and sciences programs and professional training with particular strength in its Core Four—Arts and Humanities, STEM and Social Sciences, the Business and Education Professions, and Health and Wellness. Adelphi is dedicated to transforming students’ lives through small classes, hands-on learning and innovative ways to support student success.

Founded in Brooklyn in 1896, Adelphi is Long Island’s oldest private coeducational university. Today Adelphi serves nearly 8,000 students at its beautiful main campus in Garden City, New York—just 23 miles from New York City’s cultural and internship opportunities—and at dynamic learning hubs in Manhattan, the Hudson Valley and Suffolk County, and online.

More than 115,000 Adelphi graduates have gained the skills to thrive professionally as active, caring citizens, making their mark on the University, their communities and the world.

Tagged: Department of Chemistry, Adelphi Magazine