Assistant Professor, Undergraduate Advisor
Assistant Professor, Undergraduate Advisor
College of Arts and Sciences
(773) 442-5679
Courses Taught
CHEM 212
CHEM 231
CHEM 232
CHEM 333
Research Interests
My current research focuses on studying how plastic materials degrade when exposed to sunlight. This will help to understand how harmful microplastic particles are formed when plastic waste is dumped in natural water systems, as well as to develop ways of remediating the plastic waste. Inorganic photocatalytic materials are being investigated as possible targets to speed up the breakdown of plastic waste and allow it to be recycled more efficiently before it causes environmental harm. Computational modeling programs are also being used predict the pathways of plastic degradation and calculate the energetics of the process under different conditions. In the future, I plan to have a joint research project with Biology studying microbes that are able to "eat" plastic waste as another means of recycling it.

Postdoctoral Research

Northwestern University (2014 - 2017)

Graduate Studies

Ph.D. Inorganic Chemistry, The Ohio State University (2009 - 2014)

Undergraduate Studies

B.A. Chemistry and Integrated Science, Northwestern University (2005 - 2009)

Selected Publications

N. P. Weingartz, M. W. Mara, S. Roy, J. Hong, A. Chakraborty, S. E. Brown-Xu, B. T. Phelan, F. N. Castellano, L. X. Chen, Excited-State Bond Contraction and Charge Migration in a Platinum Dimer Complex Characterized by X-ray and Optical Transient Absorption Spectroscopy, J. Phys. Chem. A, 2021, 125, 8891-8898.

S. E. Brown-Xu, M, Fumanal, C. Gourlaouen, L. Gimeno, A. Quatela, C. Thobie-Gautier, E. Blart, A. Planchat, F. Riobe, C. Monnereau, L. X. Chen, C. Daniel, and Y. Pellegrin, Intriguing Effects of Halogen Substitution on the Photophysical Properties of 2,9-(Bis)halo-Substituted Phenanthroline Copper(I) Complexes, Inorg. Chem., 2019, 58, 7730-7745.

R. A. Ando, S. E. Brown-Xu, L. N. Q. Nguyen, T. L. Gustafson, Probing the Solvation Structure and Dynamics in Ionic Liquids by Time-Resolved Infrared Spectroscopy of 4-(N,N-Dimethylamino)Benzonitrile, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2017, 19, 25151-25157.

S. E. Brown-Xu, M. S. J. Kelley, K. A. Fransted, A. Chakraborty, G. C. Schatz, F. N. Castellano, L. X. Chen, Tunable Excited-State Properties and Dynamics as a Function of Pt-Pt Distance in Pyrazolate-Bridged Pt(II) Dimers, J. Phys. Chem. A2016120, 543-550.

B. Pandit, N. E. Jackson, T. Zheng, T. J. Fauvell, E. F. Manley, M. Orr, S. E. Brown-Xu, L. Yu, L. X. Chen, Molecular Structure Controlled Transitions between Free-Charge Generation and Trap Formation in a Conjugated Copolymer Series, J. Phys. Chem. C2016120, 4189-4198.

N. D. Bernadino, S. E. Brown-Xu, T. L. Gustafson, D. L. A. De Faria, Time-Resolved Spectroscopy of Indigo and of a Maya Blue Simulant, J. Phys. Chem. C2016120, 21905-21914.    

S. E. Brown-Xu, M. H. Chisholm, T. F. Spilker, Photophysical Studies of Metal to Ligand Charge Transfer Involving Quadruply Bonded Complexes of Molybdenum and Tungsten, Acc. Chem. Res.201548, 877-885.

S. H. Porter, Z. Huang, S. Dou, S. E. Brown-Xu, A. T. Sarwar, R. C. Myers, P. M. Woodward, Electronic Structure and Photocatalytic Water Oxidation Activity of RTiNO­2 (R = Ce, Pr, and Nd) Perovskite Nitride Oxides, Chem. Mater.201527, 2414-2420.

S. E. Brown-Xu, M. H. Chisholm, C. B. Durr, T. L. Gustafson, T. F. Spilker, Photophysical Properties of cis-Mo2 Quadruply Bonded Complexes and Observation of Photoinduced Electron Transfer to Titanium Dioxide, J. Am. Chem. Soc.2014136, 11428-11435.

Selected Exhibitions

Selected Presentations:

S. E. Brown-Xu*, Breaking Down Plastic Waste One Photon at a Time, Metropolitan State University of Denver invited presentation (remote), Sept. 2021.

D. Slezberg* and S. E. Brown-Xu, Computational Chemistry’s Pathway to Flexible Recycling, SCSE Symposium in Chicago, IL, Oct. 2020.

S. E. Brown-Xu*, J. Carlson, G. Brunger, Monitoring the Breakdown of Plastic Materials Under Ultraviolet and Visible Light, NEIU Faculty Research and Creative Activities Symposium in Chicago, IL, Nov. 2019.

S. E. Brown-Xu, M. H. Chisholm, T. L. Gustafson, Studies on Electron Transfer from Dimolybdenum Photosensitizers Through Time-Resolved Spectroscopy, Inter-American Photochemistry Society Conference (Sarasota, FL, January 2014).


Professional Experience:

Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Northeastern Illinois University (2017-Present)

Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at Harold Washington Community College (2016)

Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University (2014-2017)

Additional Information


NEIU Teaching Professional Excellence Award (2019)

NEIU Summer Research Stipend award (2018, 2021)

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (2009)

National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (2009)

Room BBH 218F
Northeastern Illinois University
5500 North St. Louis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625
United States

(773) 442-5679
Office Hours
In-person or virtual office hours:
Main Campus