Marc Zimmer

Marc Zimmer

Jean C. Tempel '65 Professor of Chemistry

Joined Connecticut College: 1990

B.S., M.S., University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
Ph.D., Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Post-Doctorate, Yale University


Computational chemistry

Fluorescent proteins

Marc Zimmer teaches general chemistry, molecular science and environmental chemistry. He has tried to make these courses relevant and interesting by introducing the most recent developments in general, medicinal and environmental chemistry in his classes.

In 2007, Professor Zimmer was named the Connecticut Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The annual awards are given to the nation's top college and university professors in recognition of their teaching.

He received the College's 2001 John S. King Memorial Award to recognize excellence in teaching and the College's 2005 Nancy Batson Nisbet Rash Faculty Research Award for outstanding scholarly achievement.

Zimmer's book, Glowing Genes: A Revolution in Biotechnology, (Prometheus, 2005) is the first popular science book on jellyfish and firefly proteins, which can help fight cancer, create new products, improve agriculture and combat terrorism. The book presents an overview of the many uses of these glowing proteins to kill and image cancer cells, monitor bacterial infections and light up in the presence of pollution.

His other books include Illuminating Disease, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2015 (ISBN 978-0199362815);
Bioluminescence: Nature and Science at Work, Lerner Books, Minneapolis, 2015 (ISBN 978-1467757843), also translated into Japanese and published by Nishimura Co., Ltd. (ISBN?978-4-89013-772-5); and
Lighting Up the Brain: The Science of Optogenetics, Lerner Books, Minneapolis, 2018. (ISBN 978-1512427523).

Zimmer's research group is mainly interested in the structural and photophysical properties of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), a protein found in jellyfish that has found numerous uses as a marker in medicine, cell biology and molecular biology. This work is funded by the National Institute of Health and the Research Corporation. In 2008 he attended the Nobel Prize ceremony, the year that the chemistry award was presented to three scientists for their GFP research.

Since joining Connecticut College in 1990, he has had 72 undergraduate research students. Thirty-nine have co-authored peer reviewed publications and 50 have presented talks or posters. Ten students have gone on to medical school and 18 to graduate programs in the sciences. In the past 4 years he has visited 29 schools and given chemistry demonstrations, classes and workshops to students. In the same time period he has given 4 workshops to groups of teachers.

Professor Zimmer was the program chair for the inorganic division of the American Chemical Society for 4 years and won the John S. Burlew Connecticut Valley Section Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to chemistry. He was the featured scientist in the Fall 2009 NIH Findings magazine, which was sent to 30,000 high school students.

He led a group of students on a SATA South Africa in the fall of 2002 and conducted two more, SATA South Africa 2006 and SATA South Africa 2011. He also accompanied students in the spring of 2000 on a TRIP for the course Environmental Chemistry 316 to Boston, Massachusetts, to attend the 11th Annual Global Warming Conference at Harvard University and MIT.

Zimmer encourages interested persons to visit his personal homepage, his Green Fluorescent Protein page, and the chemistry department website.

I really enjoy my job here at Connecticut College and hope that some of it is reflected in my teaching. Sometimes chemistry can be fun! In my classes I try to show the practical applications of the chemistry. I try to present and look for humorous anecdotes to liven up the class, too. In order to keep myself amused and interested, I do the same in my research. Currently it involves the analysis of the mechanism of an anticancer drug and the formation of cow flatulence.

Marc Zimmer

Contact Marc Zimmer

Mailing Address

Marc Zimmer
Connecticut College
Box # CHEMISTRY/Hale Laboratory
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320


103 Hale Laboratory