Chemistry and Biochemistry

Chris Nichols

Organic Chemistry
Department Chair


Dr. Nichols was born in 1971 in Thompson, Manitoba, Canada. After spending two years at the University of Alberta in Edmonton he moved to Vancouver, BC and finished his BSc in chemistry at the University of British Columbia. During his undergraduate years he worked with Dr. Mark Hollingsworth (now at Kansas State), Dr. Derrick Clive (U of Alberta), Dr. Larry Weiler (deceased), and Dr. Chris Orvig (UBC) on projects involving organic and inorganic chemistry. Dr. Nichols earned an NSERC (Canada) scholarship and moved to California in 1992 to start his PhD program at UCLA under the direction of Dr. Michael Jung. His projects involved the synthesis of non-natural nucleosides and sugars, and he earned his PhD in 1997. After working for two years at The Scripps Research Institute with Nobel laureate K. Barry Sharpless, Dr. Nichols joined the faculty at CSU, Chico in 1999. He earned tenure and was promoted to associate professor in 2005, and was promoted to professor in 2011.

Dr. Nichols teaches introductory and advanced courses in organic chemistry, as well as general chemistry classes and the general education course in chemistry (CHEM 100). He continues to work on improving the learning experience in his courses, including the use of a Class Response System (clickers), guided-inquiry methods (POGIL), and developing new experiments for lab courses. Dr. Nichols’s recent research projects include efforts towards isolation and identification of natural products from marine sources as well as working on the total synthesis of natural products, including corydendramine A and phenguignardic acid.

In fall 2020, Nichols became the department chair. 

Recent Publications:

Nichols, C. J.; Hanne, L. F. "Automated Combinatorial Chemistry in the Organic Chemistry Majors Laboratory" J. Chem. Educ., 2010, 87, 87.

McCrea-Hendrick, M.; Nichols, C. J. "Synthesis of a Model Compound of Corydendramine A via a Julia Coupling" Synth. Commun.,2009, 39, 3611.

Nichols, C. J.; Taylor, M. R. "The Sharpless Asymmetric Dihydroxylation in the Organic Chemistry Majors Laboratory" J. Chem. Educ.2005, 82, 105.

Portrait of Chris Nichols