Sara Rocks

Faculty Member

Dr. Sally Rocks


Courses taught: Introductory Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Instrumental Chemistry and Inorganic Chemistry

Research Interests:

Bioinorganic Chemistry- With half the enzymes in our bodies requiring metals to be active, the study of how these metalloenzymes function is an exciting and diverse research area. We work toward understanding the mechanism and origins of substrate selectivity for metalloenzymes involved in bioremediation of anthropogenic pollutants. Atrazine is an herbicide that is both the most prolific herbicide in natural waters in Utah Valley and is tied to declining frog populations. Bacteria have evolved the capacity to break down atrazine into bioavailable carbon and nitrogen. The first enzymatic step involves an iron(II) containing metalloenzyme, atrazine chlorohydrolase (AtzA), which exhibits interesting specificity for the chlorinated atrazine and whose mechanism is not well understood. We aim to better understand the inner-workings of this enzyme through the use of small, synthetic model complexes.

Environmental Chemistry- Microplastics are seemingly everywhere. Primarily generated through the weathering of plastic waste, microplastics are particles less than 5 mm in diameter and, because of their high surface area, can harbor heavy metals and organic pollutants at higher concentrations than the bulk environment. The plastics are consumed by small animals in the environment and then bioaccumulate, where they can act as a delivery vector for the metals and organics concentrated on their surfaces. We are studying the extent of microplastic pollution in Utah Valley in both air, water and sediments. Particles are characterized to identify the types of plastic and contaminants on their surfaces.


Ph D, University of Rochester, 2009

Major: Bioinorganic Chemistry

BS, Bucknell University, 2004

Major: Chemistry


CHEM 1010

Introduction to Chemistry PP, Summer 2024


Undergraduate Research in Chemistry, Summer 2024

CHEM 4005

Instrumental Analysis Laboratory, Spring 2024

CHEM 4005

Instrumental Analysis Laboratory, Spring 2024

CHEM 4000

Instrumental Analysis WE, Spring 2024

CHEM 1010

Introduction to Chemistry PP, Spring 2024


Undergraduate Research in Chemistry, Spring 2024


Patterson, Rob (Presenter & Author), Graham, Nathan (Presenter & Author), Rocks, Sally , Utah Conference of Undergraduate Research (UCUR), "Pesticide Pollution in Utah Lake", UVU. (February, 2024)

Scholarly/Creative Works

Rocks, Sally , Stockland, Jr., Robert A, Soulsby, David , Anna, Laura J., Wallner, Anton S., (2021) "Heteronuclear NMR Spectroscopy in the Undergraduate Curriculum_ Direct and Indirect Effects" (vol. 4). Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Society Symposium Series.
Rocks, Sally , Stockland, Jr., Robert A., (2020) "NMR Structure Elucidation in the Presence of Heteroatoms_ An In-Class Activity" (Issue: 2, vol. 97). Journal of Chemical Education.