Peter Schaber

ProfessorAnalytical Chemistry

Postdoctoral Appointment, Argonne National Laboratory
Ph.D., University at Buffalo, Inorganic Chemistry
B.S., Chemistry, Canisius College 2351 Office: HO 302

Dr. Schaber's teaching interests include the following courses he typically teaches:

Energy and Environment; CHM 104
General Chemistry and Recitation; CHM 111 and 112
Instrumental Analytical Chemistry; CHM 430
Instrumental Analytical Chemistry Lab; CHM 430 L
Chemistry Research; CHM 450 and 451
Communication Concepts Chemistry; CHM 480
Communicating Research Literature; CHM 481
Chemistry Internship; CHM 490

Dr. Schaber's research interests include:

1. Identifying the source of higher than expected levels of Pb in Lake Erie game fish:

The question posed is, where is the excess Pb coming from that is causing the observed higher levels of Pb in game fish from Lake Erie? And, can an as yet unidentified site be located where Pb is leaching into the lake? To address these questions we are in the process of collecting soil samples from the shores of the Buffalo River and Lake Erie. We intend to extend out soil sample collections up the Niagara River and all the way to Lake Ontario on the American side. Soil samples will be analyzed for Pb, and possibly other heavy metals, using EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) methods on instrumentation currently available in the laboratories of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. In the future we would also like to expand our analysis to several other metal species such as Cu, Ni, Al, Cr, V, Sn and As in an attempt to gain a full metals-of-concern soil profile. (All of the aforementioned metals are problematic for humans and other higher life forms at elevated levels.) Emphasis in our initial studies will however be placed on quantifying Pb and Cd levels. The primary focus of this research is to quantify the overall contamination level of heavy metals of the waterfront soils in Western New York post major industrialization and Buffalo River clean-up.

2. Development of Laboratory Based Case Studies:

This research is focused on the continuation, development and refinement of a cluster of analytical experiments that run through the sophomore and junior/senior laboratory courses. Experiments within this cluster are based upon the Case Study method and focus on issues of relevance to today’s students. The Case Study approach will better prepare Chemistry, Biology, and Biochemistry students by involving them in the consideration of “real world” problems, and by providing “hands-on” experience using modern analytical instrumentation and techniques. As a result it is hoped that students will become more efficient learners, retain what they learned longer, exercise their critical thinking skills, and involve themselves in more interesting and challenging experiments than were formerly available. Laboratories are designed such that as students gain experience with an instrument, they are progressively required to take ever more responsibility for instrument operation, data collection and interpretation.

3. Novel Macrobicyclic Ligands and Their Copper (II) Complexes.

The biological importance of type I or “blue” copper(II) proteins is unquestioned. Many are involved in a variety of metabolically essential functions such as electron transfer, copper storage, ferroxidase and oxidase activity and oxygen binding. Over the past few decades, the geometric and electronic environments of the “active” sites in several of these proteins have become clearer. Although a unique site is not indicated for copper(II) proteins, there is evidence that the “active” sites in some of these proteins have copper(II) ion coordinated in a very unusual pseudo-tetrahedral coordination sphere. It is this coordination sphere that is in part responsible for the functionality of these important proteins. With this in mind I am involved in the synthesis of novel macrobicyclic ligands that will “force” a pseudo-tetrahedral geometry on copper(II) ion when coordinated. It is envisioned that this new class of ligands will not only possess heteroatoms of biological relevance (i.e. N, S, etc.), but will have the flexibility to allow for variability in their number, type, and location. The spectroscopic (UV-vis) and oxidation-reduction (redox) properties of the copper(II) complexes with be studied. Particularly interesting complexes will be crystallized and sent out for single crystal x-ray analysis to determine precise structural parameters. All data will be used to determine structure property relationships.


  • Phoenix Award - For outstanding work, National Chemistry Week (Best High School Program), American Chemical Society, Overall Program Director
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award; N.C. State University
  • Woodburn Fellowship Award; University at Buffalo
  • Graduate School Teaching Award; University at Buffalo
  • Eastman Kodak Merit Award; University at Buffalo


Canisius Undergraduates in Bold

Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE); To SFE or Not to SFE: A Laboratory Based Case Study for an Organic Chemistry Course and the Effect of Instrument Anomaly on Assessment. Schaber, P.M.; Larkin, J.E.; Pines, H.A.; Berchou, K.; Wierchowski, E.; Marconi, A.; Suriani, A. J. Chem. Educ. 2012, 89(10), 1327-1330.

Determination of Six Quality Standards in Water Samples Collected Along the Appalachian Trail. Schaber, P.M.; Burke, K.A.; Maher, V.; Gordon, S. J. Und. Chem. Res. 2011, 10 (2), 42-49 (invited submission by associate editor; cover article).

The Case of Nut Poisoning (or Too Much of a Good Thing?). Implementation and Assessment. Schaber, P.M.; Pines, H.A.; Larkin, J.E.; Shepherd, L.; Wierchowski, E.E. J. Chem. Educ. 2011, 88 (7), 1012-1013.

Juicing the Juice: A Laboratory-Based Case Study for an Instrumental Analytical Chemistry Course. Schaber, P.M.; Dinan, F.J.; St. Phillips, M.; Larson, R.; Pines, H.A.; Larkin, J.E. J. Chem. Educ. 2011, 88 (4), 496-498.

Thermal Decomposition (Pyrolysis) of Urea in an Open reaction Vessel. Schaber, P.M.; Colson, J.; Higgins, S.; Dietz, E.; Thielen, D.; Anspach, B.; Brauer, J. Thermochimica Acta 2004, 424, 131-142.