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Joel Davis

Joel Davis Joel Davis Chemistry Associate Professor Email: joel.davis@wlc.edu Phone: 414.443.8771

Joel Davis


  • B.S., Chemistry, Wisconsin Lutheran College
  • Ph.D., Chemistry, Purdue University


My interest in science was kindled at a young age by science fiction stories, comic books, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. My fondness for chemistry developed in high school, where I was fortunate to have a skilled and devoted chemistry teacher. While working on my doctorate in West Lafayette, Indiana, I discovered a deep satisfaction in mentoring collegiate students. I am grateful to be called to serve as a faculty member at WLC.

Outside of my academic duties and service activities, I am blessed to be a husband and father. My family enjoys many activities together, such as drawing, traveling, and playing tabletop games.  My family is also actively involved in our church, and we volunteer our time in support of many different aspects of ministry.

As a professor at WLC, my goal is to help students gain the chemical knowledge they will need to be successful, both in their chosen career path and as an educated citizen. I prefer using group learning activities to keep students actively involved and to promote critical thinking skills, since college is a time to hone the problem solving, interpersonal, and individual learning skills that students will need throughout their lives.


  • CHE 105 – Food and Cooking Chemistry
  • CHE 161 – General Chemistry 1
  • CHE 162 – General Chemistry 2
  • CHE 168 – General Chemistry Laboratory 1
  • CHE 169 – General Chemistry Laboratory 2
  • CHE 341 – Physical Chemistry 1
  • CHE 342 – Physical Chemistry 2
  • CHE 349 – Physical Chemistry Laboratory 2
  • CHE 391 – Special Topics
  • CHE 392 – Special Topics Laboratory
  • CHE 430 – Inorganic Chemistry
  • PHY 151/201 – Space, Time, and Motion Laboratory
  • PHY 203 – Introduction to Modern Physics: Heat, Atoms, and Quanta

Research Interests

The chemistry department at WLC has several analytical techniques at its disposal, including mass spectrometry, optical spectroscopy (UV-VIS, IR, and fluorescence), atomic absorption spectroscopy, and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. I have developed interdisciplinary collaborations with other departments to apply the aforementioned techniques (along with their associated chemical knowledge) to experimental research questions in these other disciplines. For example, I worked with undergraduate researchers to assist colleagues in anthropology and biology in performing a toxicological analysis of a skeletonized cadaver (see publications).

I am very interested in how students learn and in finding the best pedagogies that assist students in learning. To that end, I am actively involved in the scholarship of teaching and learning. This includes my use (and analysis) of Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) in the chemistry classroom.

Students often have their own research interests. I am always willing to talk to students about their interests and develop research projects that are exciting for both the student and me.

Scholarly Works

Select Publications

James S. Henkel, Joel Davis, Ned Farley. Anatomical and biochemical evidence for Treponema pallidum in a 19th to early twentieth century skeletal cadaver, Forensic Sci., Med., Pathol. 16, 557-561 (2020).

Joel G. Davis, Samual R. Zukowski, Blake M. Rankin, Dor Ben-Amotz. Influence of a neighboring charged group on hydrophobic hydration shell structure, J. Phys. Chem B119, 9417-9422 (2015).

Joel G. Davis, Blake M. Rankin, Kamil P. Gierszal, Dor Ben-Amotz, Water Dangling OH Cooperativity at Molecular Hydrophobic Interfaces, Nat. Chem5, 796-802 (2013).

Joel G. Davis, Kamil P. Gierszal, Ping Wang, Dor Ben-Amotz, Water Structural  Transformation at Molecular Hydrophobic Interfaces, Nature 491, 582-585 (2012).

Kamil P. Gierszal, Joel G. Davis, Michael D. Hands, David S. Wilcox, Lyudmila V. Slipchenko, Dor Ben-Amotz, π-Hydrogen Bonding in Liquid Water. J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2, 2930-2933 (2011).

Jill Tomlinson-Phillips, Joel Davis, Dor Ben-Amotz, Daniel Spångberg, Ljupčo Pejov, Kersti Hermansson, Structure and Dynamics of Water Dangling OH Bonds in Hydrophobic Hydration Shells. Comparison of Simulation and Experiment. J. Phys. Chem. A 115, 6177-6183 (2011).

Select Presentations

“Assessing POGIL Process Skills in General Chemistry Using Standards-Based Grading,” Oral Presentation, American Chemical Society 255th National Meeting, New Orleans, LA, March 18, 2018.

“POGIL as Gen. Ed.: Generating artifacts for the assessment of general education outcomes in the POGIL Classroom,” Oral Presentation, American Chemical Society 253rd National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, April 2017.

"Development of a 532nm Raman Spectrometer for Solvation-Shell Spectroscopy,” Oral Presentation, Faculty Development, Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, WI, November 2014.

“Studying Hydrophobic Hydration Shells Using Raman Spectroscopy,” Oral Presentation, Student Organizations, Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, WI, November, 2013.

“Water Hydrogen Bond Strength Changes in Hydrophobic Hydration Shells,” Poster.  Gordon Research Conference: Water & Aqueous Solutions, Holderness, NH, August 2012.

“Water Hydrogen Bond Strength Changes in Hydrophobic Hydration Shells,” Poster.  Gordon-Kenan Research Symposium: Water & Aqueous Solutions, Holderness, NH, August 2012.

“Water H-bond Strength Changes in Hydrophobic Hydration Shells,” Oral Presentation, American Chemical Society 243rd National Meeting, San Diego, CA, March 2012.


Wisconsin Lutheran College

  • Faculty Senate Secretary
  • Faculty Co-Curricular Committee
  • General Education Committee
  • Faculty advisor for The Point of Grace (WLC Chapter)


  • Advanced Placement Examination Reader
  • Church Council Member
  • Church Choir 
  • Member of the Board of Directors for The Point of Grace (Milwaukee-area Campus Ministry)

Professional Memberships

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Chemical Society