Christa L. Colyer


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


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
Associate Dean for Academic Planning 2016 – 2020, Wake Forest University
Professor 2010 – present, Wake Forest University
James and Courtney Harton Faculty Fellow for Chemistry Industry, 2023-2026, Wake Forest University

Research Description

Research Interests: Analytical chemistry; electrokinetic separations method development; aptamer discovery; carbon nanoparticles in analysis; biomolecule and drug analysis.

Current project: “Carbon dots and squarylium dyes for sensing, screening, and separations.”

Analytical tools capable of adaptation to a wide range of analyte types and sample matrices are invaluable in an increasingly interdisciplinary scientific landscape. Such tools must be able to deliver high efficiency and high sensitivity measurements, especially for targets relevant to human health and safety. Basic research is needed to explore, develop, and assess new analytical tools; and when conducted in collaboration with industry, such research is empowered to deliver transformational outcomes by way of direct application to market-driven or socially relevant problems. As such, it is the overarching aim of the Colyer lab to explore and apply carbon dots (CDs), fluorescent dyes, and ssDNA aptamers as tools for analytical sensing, screening, and separations method development. These explorations involve partnerships with industry and international labs, which provide an avenue for translation of basic science findings into applied analytical practices. 

One area of application includes drug testing, which provides essential information to clinicians, law enforcement personnel, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, and policy makers. This domain is increasingly challenged by the growing presence of synthetic analogs or designer drugs and is presented with new opportunities arising from trends towards legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use. We aim to demonstrate improvements in drug testing by employing carbon dots (CDs) – highly fluorescent, biocompatible, low cost, and stable nanomaterials – as analytical tools in method development, with a focus on fluorescence spectrophotometry and capillary electrophoresis. In particular, we aim to use CDs as sensors capable of identifying the presence of a target drug based on fluorescence quenching; as mediators of drug mobility in capillary electrophoresis (CE)-based drug assays; and as facilitators of DNA aptamer discovery against illicit drug targets. 

Peer Reviewed Publications (10 most recent, out of 75 total)

J.B. Roberts, and C.L. Colyer, Enantioselective separation of synthetic cathinones by capillary electrophoresis with ionic liquid and cyclodextrin buffer co-additives, Separations, 10, 417, (2023).

D. Roy, and C.L. Colyer, Nitrogen-doped carbon dots aid in the separation of ssDNA molecules of different length by capillary transient isotachophoresis (ctITP) with laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) detection, J. Chromatogr. A 1641, 461990, doi:10.1016/j.chroma.2021.461990 (2021).

L. R. Sirkisoon, H.C. Makamba, S. Saito, and C.L. Colyer, Carbon dot-mediated capillary electrophoresis separations of metallated and demetallated forms of transferrin protein molecules, Molecules 24 (1916); doi:10.3390/molecules24101916 (2019).

J. Ishikawa, A.Maeshima, A. Mellinger, A. Durand, M.-L. Bourbon, D. Higo, C. L. Colyer, M. Shibukawa, S. Ouchane, and S. Saito, Two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis for metalloprotein analysis based on differential chemical structure recognition by CBB dye, Scientific Reports 9 (1) doi:10.1038/s41598-019-46955-6 (2019).

D. Roy, O. T. Cummings, E. C. Strickland, A. L. Mellinger, C. L. Colyer, and G. L. McIntire, Liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry method for novel psychoactive substances: Kratom and synthetic cathinones in urine, LC/GC (Current trends in mass spectrometry) 16: 6-10 (2018).

M. M. Sebaiy, and C.L. Colyer, Polymer enhanced capillary transient isotachophoresis with boronic acid functionalized squarylium dyes for the fluorescent determination of digoxin and digoxigenin, Analytical Letters DOI:10.1080/00032719.2017.1312426 (2017).

S.S. Abd El-Hay, and C.L. Colyer, Development of high-throughput method for measurement of vascular nitric oxide generation in microplate reader, Molecules 22 (127); doi:10.3390/molecules22010127 (2017).

C. H. Stuart, K.R. Riley, O. Boyacioglu, D.M. Herpai, W. Debinski, S. Qasem, F.C. Marini, C. Colyer, and W.H. Gmeiner, Selection of a novel aptamer against Vitronectin using capillary electrophoresis and Next Generation Sequencing, Molecular Therapy – Nucleic Acids. 5(11):e386-. doi:10.1038/mtna.2016.91 (2016).

K.R. Riley, S. Liu, G. Yu, K. Libby, R. Cubicciotti, and C.L. Colyer, Using capillary electrophoresis to characterize polymeric particles. J. Chromatogr. A 1463: 169-175 (2016).

M.M. Sebaiy, A.A. El-Shanawany, M.M. Baraka, L.M. Abdel-Aziz, T.A. Isbell, and C.L. Colyer, Determination of morphine and its metabolites in human urine by capillary electrophoresis with laser induced fluorescence detection employing on-column labeling with a new boronic acid functionalized squarylium cyanine dye. Chromatography 3, 1; doi:10.3390/chromatography3010001 (2016).

M.M. Sebaiy, A.A. El-Shanawany, M.M. Baraka, L.M. Abdel-Aziz, and C.L. Colyer, Monofunctional and bifunctional boronic acid functionalized squarylium dyes as non-covalent protein labels: A fluorimetric study. J. Drug Des. Res. 2(3): 1019 (2015).

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).

K. 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).

Awards and Accomplishments

Spring 2025Resident Professor, Flow House, Wake Forest University, Vienna Austria
2023-2026James and Courtenay Harton Faculty Fellow for Chemistry Industry, 2023-2026, Wake Forest University
Spring 2022Resident Professor, Worrell House, Wake Forest University, London, U.K.
2015-2018Robert & Debra Lee Faculty Fellowship, Wake Forest University
2014-2015Reynolds Research Leave, Wake Forest University
2013Wake Forest University Teaching Innovation Award
2007Wake Forest University Award for Excellence in Advising
2005-2009Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Wake Forest University
2002-2003Dunn-Riley Faculty Fellow, Wake Forest University
2002Wake Forest University Reid-Doyle Prize for Excellence in Teaching