Jump to page contentFuture Student?
Photo of Timothy Smith

Timothy Smith

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Walsh University
A Catholic University of Distinction
2020 East Maple Street
North Canton, Ohio44720
United States

Dr. Timothy Smith's research interests lie in the areas of soft materials, drug delivery agents, polymers, dendrimers, bio-organic chemistry, total synthesis, self-assembling materials, light harvesting arrays, and liquid crystalline materials.

Current projects for students include:

1. Soft materials capable of harnessing NIR/IR light hold massive potential in the materials and biological science worlds. Photoactive compounds capable of undergoing reversible switching with light/heat can be used in molecular imaging, drug delivery, and molecular devices/computing. Students involved with my research team will explore highly conjugated reverse photochromic materials with the intent of extending the absorption spectrum from the NIR into the IR region. This project holds the potential to allow for drug delivery with deep tissue penetrating IR wavelengths opening the door to specialized therapeutics for non-invasive site-specific drug delivery.
2. Cyclic fluorinated polymers hold the potential to create new materials with better processability and more optimal physical properties than their straight chain counterparts. This research holds the potential to synthesize and characterize novel polymeric materials.
3. Trigonostemon howii is a Chinese medicinal plant only distributed on Hainan Island. Recently this plant exhibited significant anti-HIV-1 reverse transcriptase activities with an EC50 value of 36.78 μg/mL in vitro. A novel tetrahydrofuran derivative (trigonohowine) was discovered as being the most potent component of this plant. This research project will be in the synthesis and evaluation of the this compound and its anti-viral capabilities.

How Safe is Your Water? Walsh Research Explores the Quality of Drinking Water

How Safe is Your Water? Walsh Research Explores the Quality of Drinking Water

October 8, 2019

Water makes up more than two-thirds of weight in the human body and nearly 95 percent of the brain. It is essential for life and considered a basic human right. However, each year, tens of millions of Americans are exposed to unsafe drinking water. The concern over clean drinking must extend beyond lead poisoning in Flint, MI, and should address the fact that, even today, unsafe water is often limited to the poorest amongst us.

In an effort to find an alternative to costly laboratory water testing, Walsh Assistant Professor of Chemistry Tim Smith, Ph.D., and several students are exploring a non-invasive, low-cost methodology for heavy metal testing in drinking water. 

“Water quality is imperative to human life. In recent years, the identification of hazardous materials, especially heavy metals, ending up in drinking water is unacceptable,” said Dr. Smith.  “The methodology for testing of these metals can be both time-consuming and expensive. Currently, I have three Walsh students who have been involved with this project. We are synthesizing the materials needed and will begin testing our theory by running UV-Vis experiments on our systems this upcoming semester.”

Dr. Smith is leading a student team to research the utilization of quasi-water soluble reverse photochromic materials that will work as visual indicators of the metal ions present in a water sample. Similar to the methodology present in transitional lenses in glasses and a simple pool test kit, this process allows for the immediate analysis of the presence of different metals in a water sample while eliminating the need to run multiple tests to determine different metal concentrations. 

“The reality is that if it’s a poor area, resources are not allocated to check the water as efficiently as possible. If you’ve ever seen a pool water test kit, it’s the same kind of concept. The color change will indicate the type of metal in your water,” said Dr. Smith. “We are working on creating profiles of every possible metal ion you can find in your water. It would be a real easy and effective method so that you won’t have to send a sample to a lab, have someone test it and wait for results. You can test right in the field by hitting a little button on your handheld machine.”

The quick response will tell field researchers if more extensive testing is required in a lab. The Walsh research team is currently in the exploratory phase.

“We are categorizing all the metals to create profiles of what lead will look like, or iron, etc.,” said Dr. Smith. “We don’t test well water as often as we should. There are home test kits that you can buy at Home Depot or Lowes, but they still depend upon the user. If the user does something wrong, the sample can easily be contaminated.”

While the molecules being studied by the Walsh team have been known for a long time, it has only been in the recent years that scientists have begun looking at different implications beyond transitional lens.

“The molecules are photochromic, which means that light makes them change color. The molecules also become water-soluble. When metal is in water, the molecules will detect it and change color. You’ll be able to see it,” said Dr. Smith. “Before coming to Walsh, I spent 10 years studying how liquid crystals can help create protective eyewear and visors for Air Force pilots. While working with reactive eyewear, I began to think about how this technology could be applied to various uses.”

Liquid crystal elastomers (LCE) can also be effective actuators or “movers” that exhibit muscle-like contractions capable of moving material. However, these materials can wear down over time. The Walsh team is also researching how to implement chemical self-healing properties to LCE materials without effecting their performance. 

The research could eventually have healthcare implications in developing macrocyclic cobalt complexes as anti-viral and anti-cancer agents.



Shasti, M.; Coutino, P.; Mukherjee, S.; Varanytsia, A.; Smith, T.; Luchette, P.; Sukhomlinova, L.; Kosa, T.; Munoz, A.; Taheri, B. ”Reverse Mode Switching of Random Laser Emmision in Dye doped Liquid Crystals under Homogeneous and Inhomogeneous Electric Fields” Photon, Res. 2016, 4(1), 7-12.

White, T.J.; Zhao, A.D.; Cazzell, S.A.; Bunning, T.J.; Kosa, T.; Sukhomlinova, L.; Smith, T.; Taheri, B. “Optically reconfigurable color change in chiral nematic liquid crystals based on indolyfulgide chiral dopants” J. Mater. Chem. 2012, 22, 5751-5757.

Shreiner, C.D.; Aleman, E.A.; Rajesh, C.S.; Smith, T.; Garrison, S.A.; Modarelli, D.A. “Photoinduced Electron-Transfer within Osmium (II) and Ruthenium (II) bis-Terpyridine Donor Acceptor Dyads” Dalton Trans. 2009, 33, 6562-77.

Smith, T.; Modarelli, D.A. “The Efficient Synthesis of Oligo (phenylenevinylenes)” Tetrahedron Letters 2008, 49, 526-528.

Coutino, P.S.; Smith, T.; Miller, R.E.; Sukhomlinova, L.; Bodnar, V.; Baker, C.; Kosa, T.; Taheri, B., Wide band variable transmittance liquid crystal optical devices. U.S. patent 20160070132 A1 20160310, March 10, 2016.

Staff Contact

Note: Form fields appended with the asterisk (*) are required to ensure the best possible response to your submitted information
Email Timothy Smith
Security Check