University of Central Oklahoma


Department of Chemistry

Dr. John Bowen

General Information


Try Undergraduate Research!

Faculty at UCO have projects for you!  Come talk to us...research is fun and can further your scientific career.  Industry likes to see this on your resume, and it makes it easier to get into Graduate School!

REU - NSF's Research Experience for Undergraduates.  Let a university pay you for the summer to come do research there!  They pay a stipend, travel money and will provide a place to stay!  The best summer job you will get!

OUHSC has the Sure program, similar to the above.  I would be very glad to work with you to find a summer research position - STOP BY!

ps you don't have to be a Chem student!



Quantitative Analysis and Lab

This class covers the part of analytical chemistry that answers the question "How Much is There?"

The class emphasizes hands on experience with the lecture following to a large extent what happens in the laboratory.  Statistics, Equilibrium Chemistry, and introductions into the major quantitative methods of analytical chemistry are covered.  The laboratory involves six canned labs to introduce you to quantitative methodology, one lab designed to help you learn the extremely important art of writing reports, and a final laboratory where you are required to come up with a analysis of your choice, prove that it can work, and finally perform the analysis on samples that you collect.  This gives you experience in "real world" analyses where you do the research, produce the method and design the analysis.  Students have often used this laboratory as a presentation in Research Day sponsored by UCO.

Advanced Instrumental Analysis

Advanced Instrumental Analysis is the follow-up sequel to Instrumental Analysis, in conjunction with Dr Albahadily.  It covers the subjects not covered in Instrumental Analysis, including Electrochemistry, Raman Spectroscopy, X-ray techniques and others.  The laboratory is also a hands-on learn how to run the instruments that is characteristic of Quant, Instrumental and Advanced Instrumental. 


First of all Research is the FUN part of chemistry!  I would like to invite any student, even Freshmen to come to talk with me about getting to do Undergraduate Research.  This activity

Development of biosensors based on surface attached antibodies detected using surface plasmon resonance (SPR) spectroscopy.

Several successful biosensors have been produced by his company, Critical Angle, LLC.  These include biosensors capable of the detection and identification of high explosives in post blast samples at ppt levels, PCBs and Dioxin in water at ppb detection limits. 


Undergraduate Research in Analytical Chemistry


My background is in instrument and method development and analytical analyses.  I was president of a small startup company engaged in building biosensors.


Biosensor Project

The first is the research and development of an inexpensive biosensor that is capable of detecting and identifying antibodies in blood plasma caused by a disease, such as a virus, in a time frame of minutes.  This project is based on earlier work by Bowen1, 2 where a biosensor was developed for the detection of high explosives in air. 

The final goal of this research is to produce a method of absolutely identifying an infection at an early stage from a blood sample by identifying antibodies for that disease in the blood (plasma).  The method will have to be simple, rugged and highly portable for field use.  We are able to compare our results with a high-resolution instrument now stationed at Oklahoma State University.

The biosensor surface that is currently under development at this time consists of a covalent linkage from a gold surface to a reactive analytical surface of antigens for a specific virus.  The biosensor surface is presently interrogated using an optical method called Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) spectroscopy.  SPR is a method of real-time determination of minute differences in the thickness of organic layers linked to a metallic surface, usually gold.  The sample is passed over the surface of the biosensor, and the presence of the target antibody is determined by a change in the SPR spectra produced before and after exposure.  The time of analysis is directly proportional to the concentration of the analyte antibody in the serum, but times of analysis are

The specificity of the lock and key antibody/antigen reaction is the key to this analysis.  There are two approaches in the development of this surface.  The first is a direct attachment of the analytical surface antigen layer to the intermediate layer that is directly bonded to the gold surface.  The second utilizes a more commonly used antibody sandwich layer where an antibody surface is attached to the intermediate layer followed by the antigen layer.  Both methods have been approached by UCO students.  The direct method was presented at a regional ACS meeting.3

Research at UCO, and at OSU has shown that a biosensor with an antibody surface is capable of detecting antigens in solution at moderate concentrations with 100% selectivity between antigens for two closely related viral strains, Blue Tongue Virus and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Virus in time periods of less than 2 minutes.4-7 


Studies available for Students:

Future work will concentrate on developing an alternate method of interrogating the biosensor surface, the quartz microbalance.  This is an electronic device that can be made by a student, and its sensing surface can be adapted to a biosensor surface using our earlier methods. 


Water Analysis Project

The second research project involves the adaptation of Solid Phase Micro Extraction (SPME) for the analysis of drugs, and other low concentration pollutants in Oklahoma surface waters with analysis using GC/MS and HPLC.  Recently, drugs of abuse, as well as antibiotics and teratogenic compounds such as BPA that are used as plasticizers in commonly used plastic bottles have been found in stream and even drinking water.  The effects of antibiotics in rivers and streams are especially of concern as they promote resistance to antibiotics in pathogenic bacteria.  Apparently, as of 2009 one has yet investigated these types of compounds in Oklahoma waters as far as our students have found from the literature. 

Studies available for Students:

Presently, we are developing the background calibration in order to identify and quantitate various drugs of abuse in surface waters, in conjunction with OSBI scientists.  In a separate study we will likewise investigate plasticizers in surface waters.  Later we will look into adapting our HPLC to detect and quantitate antibiotics in surface waters collected by SPME analysis.


  1. Bowen, J., Noe, L.J., Sullivan, B. P., Morris, K., Donnelley, G., “Gas Phase Detection of TNT Utilizing a Solid Phase Antibody Immobilized on a Gold Film by means of Surface Plasmon Resonance Spectroscopy” Appl. Spectrosc. 57 [8] 906-914 (2003)
  1. Bowen, John M.; Noe, Lewis J.; Sullivan, B. Patrick.  Immunochemical detection of an explosive substance in the gas phase through surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy.    U.S.  Patent 6,573,107 (2003),12 pp., Cont. of U.S. Provisional Ser. No. 95,389
  1. Riha, L., White, K., Bowen, J., Meecham, J., Lavine, B., Noe, L., Sullivan, B., 2007,  “Proof of Concept for a Multilayer Biosensor at UCO for the Rapid Differentiation between Two Similar Viral Strains:  Blue Tongue Virus (BTV) and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RDHV), Oklahoma Research Day poster session, University of Central Oklahoma.  
  1. Lena Rhea, Kaley White, Drayton Ganz,*Edmond North High School, Chemistry; John Bowen, UCO, Dept of Chemistry, James O. Meecham, USDA/ARS/ABADRL, Laramie, WY,  Barry Lavine OSU, Mariya Kim, Nikhil Mirjankar, OSU; L. J. Noe, B. P. Sullivan, Critical Angle, Univ. Wyoming, 2007, “Development of a Multilayer Biosensor for the Rapid Absolute Identification of Viral Infection in Blood Serum”, Oklahoma Research Day, UCO.
  1. Lena Rhea, Kaley White, Drayton Ganz* Edmond North High School, Chemistry; John Bowen Dept of Chemistry UCO,, James O. Meecham, USDA/ARS/ABADRL, Laramie, WY,  Barry Lavine OSU, Mariya Kim ,  OSU; L. J. Noe, B. P. Sullivan, Critical Angle, Univ. Wyoming, 2007,  “Development of a Multilayer Biosensor for the Rapid Absolute Identification of Viruses in Serum”, 2007 Conference Oklahoma City Bricktown Capital Conference on Chemical Entrepreneurship Sept. 4-6.
  1. Lena Riha, Kaley White, Drayton Ganz, Edmond North High School , 2008, “Antibody Based Biosensor for the Identification of Viruses”, won First Place in team competition, Regional UCO Science Fair, First at State Science Fair and the Clinical Chemistry Award at the International Science and Engineering Fair, Atlanta , GA , May 2008



PhD, Chemistry, Oklahoma State University 1982, Dr. N. Purdie Advisor
President, Critical Angle LLC, Laramie, WY: a company in the production of biosensor surfaces and laboratory SPR spectrometers.

Dr John Bowen is currently President and co-founder of Critical Angle, LLC,  and was instrumental in the successful completion of a Phase I SBIR grant that demonstrated a biosensor surface based on immobilized antibodies capable of gas phase
antibody-antigen interactions.  He was also successful in capturing a second SBIR Phase I grant that demonstrated the Critical Angle biosensor in the detection of PCBs and TCDD as groundwater pollutants in which ppt range in the liquid phase.  He has also been successful in a Phase 0 proposal to demonstrate the changes in SPR spectroscopy of bacteria sized objects.  He has expertise in a variety of spectroscopic methods including infrared, Raman, fluorescence SPR, and in instrument development.  A patent has been written and applied for the biosensor.

Dr. Bowen has also served as president and chief research scientist for Gregg Environmental Instruments, Laramie, WY.  This company designed, developed and wrote a patent on optical fiber based instrumentation for SERS detection of BETX compounds
for cone penetrometry.  In addition Dr Bowen is also Executive Director of the High Plains Outdoor Institute, a educational organization for teaching outdoor recreation including mountaineering and white water rafting.


Faculty Advisor:

UCO Fencing Club (Level 1 Epee Coach, Olympic Training Center, Colo. Springs, CO, 1997).

Personal Interests:

Backpacking, Mountaineering, Whitewater Raft Guide, Rock Climbing, Caving, Exploration, and International Expedition Leader, Venture Scouting (Crew 77, Edmond, OK). 

Teaching outdoor skills including all of the above, as well as Wilderness First Aid, High and Low Angle Mountaineering Rescue, Land Navigation and Orienteering, Whitewater Safety, and Leadership. 

I am available for consultation for any and all of the above.


President, Partner and Executive Director in High Plains Outdoor Institute ( a high adventure teaching and guiding company offering Guided Whitewater, Climbing and Mountaineering trips in Training in the Northern Rocky Mountain Region at modest cost. We also teach Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, and High and Low Angle Mountaineering Rescue.  Groups, including Seniors and Scouts Welcome!  (

 American Red Cross Certified Instructor for Wilderness First Aid

 Assistant and Past Scoutmaster, Troop 136, Laramie, Wyoming, Boy Scouts of America (

High Adventure Consultant to other BSA Troops, and Venture Crews.