Christa L. Colyer

Christa L. Colyer

Contact Info

christa colyer image



B.Sc. (Honours) 1988, Trent University (Peterborough, Canada)
M.Sc. (Distinction) 1991, University of Guelph (Guelph, Canada)
Ph.D. 1995, Queen’s University (Kingston, Canada)
NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow 1995-97, University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada)
Assistant Professor 1997-2003, Wake Forest University
Dunn-Riley Faculty Fellow 2002-03, Wake Forest University
Associate Professor 2003-04, University of Ontario Institute of Technology (Oshawa, Canada)
Associate Professor 2004-2010, Wake Forest University
Department Chair 2006 – 2014, Wake Forest University
Professor 2010 – present, Wake Forest University
Associate Dean for Academic Planning 2016 – present, Wake Forest University


Office: Salem Hall, 010A
Phone: (336) 758-4936

Research Group

Dr. Colyer's Research Group - October 2014

Dr. Colyer’s Research Group – October 2014, Members from left to right: Mahmoud Sebaiy, Madison Cairo, Theresa Swanson, Katheryn Riley, Leona Sirkisoon, Christa Colyer, Jasmine Gonzalez

Research Description

“Molecular and Microbial Sensing and Selection by Modified Capillary Electrophoresis Methods.”

Analytical methods capable of adaptation to a wide range of analytes are invaluable in an increasingly interdisciplinary scientific landscape. Such methods must be highly efficient and sensitive, especially towards analytes relevant to human and environmental health. Dr.  Colyer’s research program addresses these challenges by developing new  bioanalytical separation methods, with a particular emphasis on the utility of  capillary electrophoresis with laser-induced fluorescence detection. The  determination of analytes ranging in size from small drug molecules to intact microbes, along with investigations into the mechanism of  noncovalent binding of suitable fluorescent probes including squarylium dyes and graphene quantum dots, are examples of current projects in the Colyer lab.

More specifically, by coming to understand the nature of noncovalent interactions between various fluorescent probes and target analytes, it will be possible to develop efficient, high  sensitivity analytical methods with applicability to the separation and  quantitation of trace analytes in complex mixtures. To this end, appropriate buffer conditions are found to render visible  and near-infrared dyes (especially squarylium dyes and boronic-acid based  probes) non-fluorescent until bound to the analyte(s) of interest, at  which point a significant enhancement in the fluorescence of the bound dye will  allow for detection of the analyte(s). Our applied CE studies are  accompanied by the investigation of some underlying physical phenomena that  affect separation and on-column reaction performance, including the reaction  kinetics of analyte-dye interactions, the stability of analyte-dye complexes,  their stoichiometries and affinities, and their mobilities relative to those of  unlabeled analytes. When coupled with transient electrophoretic separation methods, squarylium dye probes promise to afford much-needed advances in the areas of protein biomarker sensing and ligand selection against microbial targets. Additionally, new “bottom-up” synthetic routes for graphene quantum dot (GQD) production are being pursued, to allow for the manipulation of surface functionalization of these novel nanoparticles. Microscopic and spectral characterization of these low toxicity, biocompatible NPs will confirm their unique stability and fluorescence properties, allowing them to serve as focusing agents to enhance electrophoretic separations and as probes for a wide range of analytes.

Graduate and undergraduate students in our research group are exposed to many aspects of chemical research. Projects in our group allow students to develop a wide variety of skills beyond separation method development. These skills include basic biochemical sample handling, derivatization chemistry, biomolecule conjugation, laser optics, spectrophotometric methods, electronics, data acquisition, software programming, and statistical analysis. Students are encouraged to present their research work at regional, national, and international conferences, and are given opportunities to collaborate with researchers at other institutions in the US and Japan.


Recent Publications

T.A. Isbell, E.C. Strickland, J. Hitchock, G. McIntire, and C.L. Colyer, CE-TOF-MS Determination of Morphine and its Isobaric Glucuronide Metabolites. J. Chromatogr. B 980: 65-71 (2015).

K.R. Riley, J. Gagliano, J. Xiao, K. Libby, S. Saito, V. Yu, R. Cubicciotti, J. Macosko, C.L. Colyer, M. Guthold, and K. Bonin, Combining capillary electrophoresis and next generation sequencing for aptamer selection. Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 407: 1527-1532 (2015).

Ouchi, C.L. Colyer, M. Sebaiy, J. Zhou, T. Maeda, H. Nakazumi, M. Shibukawa, and S. Saito, Molecular Design of Boronic Acid-Functionalized Squarylium Cyanine Dyes for Multiple Discriminant Analysis of Sialic Acid in Biological Samples: Selectivity Toward Monosaccharides Controlled by Different Alkyl Side Chain Lengths. Anal. Chem. 87: 1933-1940 (2015).

K.R. Riley, S. Saito, J. Gagliano, and C.L. Colyer, Facilitating aptamer selection and collection by capillary transient isotachophoresis with laser-induced fluorescence detection. J. Chromatog. A 1368: 183-189 (2014).

S.Selem Abd El-Hay, C. L. Colyer, W.S. Hassan, and A. Shalaby, Utility of NBD-Cl for the spectrophotometric and spectrofluorimetric methods for determination of some antihistamine and antihypertensive drugs in bulk and pharmaceutical preparations. Journal of AOAC International. 96: 968-975 (2013).

Saito, T. Maeda, H. Nakazumi, and C.L. Colyer, Electrophoretic behavior of gram-positive bacteria using polymer-enhanced capillary transient isotachophoresis with emissive boronic acid functionalized squarylium dye. Analytical Sciences. 29: 157-159 (2013).

C.L. Colyer, ConfChem Conference on Case-Based Studies in Chemical Education: You (Want To) Call Yourself a Case Study Teacher? Journal of Chemical Education. 90: 260-261 (2013).

Lin, S. Rockett, T.L. Massie, G.B. Turner, T. Maeda, H. Nakazumi, and C.L. Colyer, Asymmetric mono- and bis-squarylium dyes as pre-column and on-column labels for protein analysis by capillary electrophoresis with laser-induced fluorescence detection. Journal of Analytical & Bioanalytical Techniques. DOI:10.4172/2155-9872.S9-001 (2012).

Saito, T.L. Massie, T. Maeda, H. Nakazumi, and C.L. Colyer , A Long-Wavelength Fluorescent Squarylium Cyanine Dye Possessing Boronic Acid for Sensing Monosaccharides and Glycoproteins with High Enhancement in Aqueous Solution. Sensors. 12: 5420-5431 (2012).

R. Gerardi, X. Lin, Z. S. Breitbach, D. W. Armstrong, and C. L. Colyer, CE-ESI-MS Analysis of divalent organic and inorganic anions using a tricationic complexing reagent. Electrophoresis. 33: 734-740 (2012).

Saito, T.L. Massie, T. Maeda, H. Nakazumi, and C.L. Colyer, On-column labeling of gram-positive bacteria with a novel boronic acid functionalized squarylium cyanine dye for analysis by polymer-enhanced capillary transient isotachophoresis. Analytical Chemistry. 84: 2452-2458 (2012).

C.L. Colyer, Childbed Fever: A 19th-Century Mystery. In: Science Stories: Using Case Studies to Teach Critical Thinking. C.F. Herreid, N.A. Schiller, and K.F. Herreid, Eds. NSTA Press, Arlington, VA (2012) Ch. 5

Selem Abd El-Hay, C.L. Colyer, W.S. Hassan, and A. Shalaby, Spectrofluorimetric determination of Etodolac, Moxepril HCl and Fexofenadine HCl using europium sensitized fluorescence in bulk and pharmaceutical preparations. Journal of Fluorescence. 22:247-252 (2012).

Awards & Accomplishments

Robert and Debra Lee Faculty Fellowship 2014 – 2018
Wake Forest Teaching Innovation Award 2013
Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Fellowship 2005 – 2009
WFU Award for Excellence in Advising 2007