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Jennifer Helbley
Jennifer Helbley, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Chemistry


  • Ph.D., Chemistry, University of Nevada, 2006
  • B.S., Chemistry, Walla Walla College, 2001

Principal Research Interests

Most of my recent published work has been in collaboration with the archaeologists at La Sierra University. Together we have explored the identity of the different elements present in pottery using X-ray fluorescence (XRF). This is done using a handheld, portable, XRF that can collect data from a variety of types of specimens including ceramics (pottery is a subset of ceramics), glasses, and metals. Although the technique can be non-destructive, we found that more detailed and consistent results can be obtained by scraping a small sample from the pottery. I am also currently exploring ways to more consistently and conveniently record the colors of various objects that are gathered from the active dig site in Jordan. During the summer of 2014 the chemistry and biochemistry department was happy to award a scholarship for an undergraduate to travel to Jordan and work with the color meter as the dig was in progress.

My other area of interest is the ability of molecules to self-organize as lyotropic liquid crystals. I am working to synthesize an organic molecule that can serve as a solid electrolyte for lithium ion secondary batteries. First the molecules would self-organize when dissolved in water and the solution would be microscopically organized into a pattern using soft lithography techniques. After the molecules have organized, the water can be evaporated and a highly organized solid is left behind. If everything works as planned, then these highly organized molecules would help stabilize the mobility of the lithium ions without trapping them between the electrodes. This would increase the safety of lithium ion batteries and also decrease their weight.

Member of American Chemical Society, American Schools of Oriental Research, and American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Chemistry Research Area: 

  • Materials Chemistry
  • Archaeological Chemistry
  • Self-organization

Email: (preferred)
Phone: 951-732-7315 (text)
Office: Palmer Hall 208

Dr. Helbley does not have an office telephone. It is best to e-mail You can also text message her at 951-732-7315 (texts and e-mails are very much preferred over calls). You can make appointment by clicking on an available time in the calendar below. Further below is a look at Dr. Helbley's Calendar with events listed.

Representative Publications

  1. J. Helbley, B. Baretto; “N to I transitions of a chromonic lyotropic liquid crystal as measured by differential scanning calorimetry.” Abstracts of Papers, Presented at the 68th Northwest Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Corvallis, OR, July 21-24, 2013; Poster 47.
  2. J. Helbley, D. Clark, M. Chang, S. Mavingre, M. Shah, and C. Wang; “Composition and physical characterization of an Iron Age pithos.” Abstracts of Papers, Presented at the 243rd American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition, San Diego, CA, March 25-29, 2012; Poster ANYL 23.
  3. M. Shah, M. Chang, J. Helbley, and C. Ji.; “Analysis of Nabataean pottery using X-ray fluorescence.”Abstracts of Papers, Presented at the 243rd American Ammerican Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition, San Diego, CA, March 25-29, 2012; Poster CHED 351.
  4. J. Helbley, C.-H. Ji, and C. L. Webster, Jr.; “The Nabatean painted ware from the Dhiban Plateau: chemical analysis, provenance, and socioeconimic implications.” Presented at the 2011 American Schools of Oriental Research Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, November 16-19, 2011; Session A64: Technology in Archaeology.

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