Dr. John Freeman: Creating a chemistry community

Dr. John Freeman is an ESU chemistry professor and the advisor to Chemistry Club. Photo Credit / Chris Powers
Dr. John Freeman is an ESU chemistry professor and the advisor to Chemistry Club.  Photo Credit / Chris Powers
Dr. John Freeman is an ESU chemistry professor and the advisor to Chemistry Club.
Photo Credit / Chris Powers


SC Staff Writer

Dr. John Freeman, professor of chemistry at East Stroudsburg University, has been teaching at ESU for almost a decade.

Dr. Freeman describes himself as a “bacteria person,” as he looks at bacteria’s protein chemistry.

While doing his graduate work at Arizona State University under Dr. Robert Blankenship, Dr. Freeman primarily focused on photosynthetic bacteria that, as he says, “do cyclic electron transport.”

His work at Arizona State University focused on a cytochrome protein, which “moves an electron into a photosynthetic protein after the electron leaves the photosynthetic protein when light hits the photosynthetic molecule.”

According to Dr. Freeman, “The electron then moves down the bacteria’s electron transport chain, into the cytochrome, and repeats the cycle.”

Dr. Freeman did his post-doctoral work at Penn State University, where he looked at the copper centers in an “enzyme that made norepinephrine and an enzyme that amidates peptides, which is important in the bioactivity of the peptide hormones that our bodies produce.”

Another protein that Dr. Freeman worked on in his studies is a copper-containing protein that produces an antibiotic. This protein “is related to the proteins that cause fruit browning and the proteins responsible for copper regulation in humans.”

Some of Dr. Freeman’s current work involves the continuation of his work with the copper-containing antibiotic-producing enzyme.

Additionally, Dr. Freeman currently partners with another scientist to look at “microorganisms that maintain their genomes after being dried out, which will cause the organisms’ DNA to break apart.”

He focuses on the protein and chemical aspects, and they look at the genetic aspects.

After his post-doctoral work, Dr. Freeman worked in industry from 1999 to 2005. He worked at GE Healthcare and Ventana Medical Systems as a protein expert, where he purified proteins.

While working toward earning his undergraduate degree, Dr. Freeman’s organic chemistry professor inspired him to get into teaching.

“I really admired him and I thought that teaching at a small school would be something I would enjoy doing,” said Dr. Freeman.

He continued, “He and my inorganic chemistry professor used me as both a T.A. and a laboratory worker…and that sort of got me into the teaching mode.”

Concerning Dr. Freeman’s teaching, ESU chemistry professor Dr. Doherty stated, “Every time I observe one of his classes…I learn something new with clarity. If I go to his class and I learn something, he is covering his niche with grace and expertise.”

Lukasz Neimocynski, one of Dr. Freeman’s biochemistry students from last semester, stated, “He is a great professor…He prepares people for learning things on their own and using the classroom as a platform for discussion.”

“I found him very enthusiastic, eager to answer questions outside of class,” Niemocynski added.

Luisa Londono, another student of Dr. Freeman, commented on his teaching style by saying, “I learned so much and am grateful to have had the opportunity to have Dr. Freeman as a professor. He is a great person that takes the time to get to know you and pushes you to learn beyond the textbook.”

In addition to teaching, Dr. Freeman is the advisor for the Chemistry Club at ESU.

Niemocynski noted, “He tries to foster an academic chemistry community at ESU, which is something that this school is in need of.”

He involves the Chemistry Club with the local section of the American Chemical Society and the club is an affiliate with the National ACS.

Dr. Alan Shaffer, another professor of chemistry at ESU, stated, “We have won several ACS awards with Dr. Freeman leading the Chemistry Club.”

When not working with students through the Chemistry Club or through his classes, Dr. Freeman enjoys bike riding, gardening, and cooking. He grows many of his own vegetables for his cooking, which is just another expression for his love of chemistry.

“A good chemist can always follow a recipe,” Dr. Freeman says. “After you’ve followed enough recipes, you can make stuff up in your head, just like chemistry.”

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