Nancy Lee

Professor and Co-Chair of Chemistry & Physics
  • Chemistry and Physics
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(617) 521-2732

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  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1993-1994. NIH Postdoctoral Fellow.
  • Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, 1989-1993. Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry, July 1993.
  • University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1981-1985. B.A. in Chemistry.

About Me

Nancy Eunjoo Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea and her family immigrated to the US when she was in middle school. She gravitated towards math and science courses in high school due to the language barrier and pursued chemistry at University of Pennsylvania. With BA in chemistry, she worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 4 years where she fell in love with synthetic organic chemistry. She decided to attend Brown to get a Ph.D. in organic synthesis. After a year of postdoctoral work at MIT in organometallic chemistry, she came to Simmons. She’s been teaching organic chemistry to science majors and pre health majors since 1994. She has put much of her effort into innovative teaching. There are two main areas of curricular change that she’s proud of: first is converting traditional lectures into “flipped lectures” for organic chemistry I and II. The second is the conversion of traditional labs to research incorporated labs. With these changes in curriculum, there has been tremendous evolution in how research is done by undergraduates at Simmons in the last ten years. Currently I serve as a Co-Chair of the Chemistry & Physics Department. I have three children (two in college and one in high school), live in North Shore, and love to travel, cook, read, and be out in nature with my husband.

Area of Expertise

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Green Chemistry
  • Chemical Education

What I Teach

  • General Chemistry (CHEM 111)
  • Organic Chemistry 1 & 2 (CHEM 224, 225)
  • Introductory Organic Chemistry (CHEM 112)
  • Advanced Topics in Chemistry (CHEM 343)

Research/Special Projects

As an organic chemist, I love working on creating novel compounds and developing better synthetic methods. Over the past 20 years, my research projects spanned from medicinal chemistry to asymmetric synthesis to currently, green polymer chemistry. Students in my lab are working on synthesizing bio-inspired, non-toxic, green copolymers based on thymine and quaternary ammonium salt monomers and testing for antibacterial properties. This project involves many techniques in organic chemistry, such as synthesis, purification and instrumental analysis using NMR, IR, UV/VIS, GPC and Combiflash. Because our department is passionate about getting students into research as early as possible in their undergraduate career, my research is incorporated into organic laboratory curriculum.

After my recent sabbatical at Novartis, my current interest is in incorporating chemical biology into organic chem/cell biology curriculum.



  • “Experimental studies and mathematical modeling of the curing reaction of bioinspired copolymers” N. Chen*, N. Lee, S. A. Bortolato & D. M. Martino, Green Chemistry Letters and Reviews, 2018, 11:4, 387-398.
  • “Use of HNMR to determine the ratio of monomers in micelle-forming block copolymers synthesis for application in antibacterial coatings” Nancy E. Lee† and Annika S. Gibbs* Journal of Undergraduate Chemistry Research, 2018, 17(3), 68-71.
  • “Isolation and Characterization of 1.3-Bis(vinylbenzyl)thymine: Copolymerization with Vinylbenzyl Thymine Ammonium Chloride” Ngoc Chau Vy*, Nina Bin Chen*, Debora Martino, John Warner, and Nancy Lee. Journal of Polymers, 2017, Article ID 6938475, Hindawi Publishing Corporation.
  • “Incorporation of Automated Column Chromatography Instrument into Undergraduate Laboratory Curriculum” Nancy Lee, Richard Gurney and Deepa Kumajiguda*, Chemistry Educator, 2017, 22, 18-21.
  • “Using Green Chemistry Principles As a Framework To Incorporate Research into the Organic Laboratory Curriculum” Nancy E. Lee†, Rich Gurney, Len Soltzberg. Journal of Chemical Education, 2014, 91 (7), 1001-1008.


  • “A Practical Guide to Operationalizing a Research Focused Organic Chemistry Laboratory Curriculum” R. Gurney & N. Lee 23rd Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, Reston VA. June 11-13, 2019 and presented at Gordon conference on Chemistry Education Research and Practice, Bates College, Lewiston, ME, June 16-21, 2019
  • "Synthesis of a tri-functional, cysteine specific D and L-amino acid probe library to investigate the effects of probe chirality on protein selectivity in breast cancer cells" N. Suminski*, K. Harrison*, C. Saitow, S. Couvertier, N. Lee, American Chemical Society Meeting, Orlando, Florida, April 2019 and presented at 21st Annual Northeast Student Chemistry Research Conference, Simmons University, May 4th, 2019.
  • “Practical guide to introducing research integration into a chemistry laboratory curriculum” R. Gurney, N. Lee, Invited Keynote Speakers, 100th Canadian Chemistry Conference, Toronto, Canada, May 28-June 1, 2017.

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

  • Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society
  • American Chemical Society