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Richard W. Schaeffer, Ph.D.

Professor of Chemistry and Department Chair

Interest and areas of expertise

Analytical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Philosophy of Science, Science-Theology Issues, synthesis and characterization of inorganic materials, fate and speciation of substances in the environment

  • B.A. Chemistry major, Computer Science minor (Messiah College)
  • Ph.D. Chemistry (Temple University)
Classes I teach
  • General Chemistry I, CHEM105 (lecture and lab)
  • General Chemistry II, CHEM106 (lecture and lab)
  • Chemical Analysis I, CHEM221 (lecture and lab)
  • Chemical Analysis II, CHEM321 (lecture and lab)
  • Environmental Chemistry, CHEM340 (lecture and lab)
  • Natural Science Capstone, CHEM/BIOL495
  • Chemistry Senior Seminar, CHEM490
  • Chemistry Junior Seminar, CHEM390
  • Research Methods, CHEM/BIOL393
  • Undergraduate Research (mentoring), CHEM422

Professor Schaeffer is originally from Ephrata, Pennsylvania, where he discovered what has become a lifelong passion for baseball and the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. His undergraduate degree is from Messiah College where he studied chemistry and computer science and played varsity baseball for four years. Following college, he worked for over three years as an analytical chemist at a commercial laboratory in Harrisburg.  Dr. Schaeffer then entered graduate school at Temple University in Philadelphia and completed his Ph.D. in chemistry with a dissertation in solid-state inorganic chemistry.  He then taught and conducted research with undergraduates for eight years at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA and two years at Kutztown University in Kutztown, PA.  Professor Schaeffer fulfilled a career dream by joining the faculty at Messiah College in 2004.  He has mentored over seventy undergraduate research students and published twenty-five peer-reviewed journal articles. 

Recent Publications:

Jennifer L. Esbenshade and Richard W. Schaeffer; A Quantitative Analysis of the Uptake of Heavy Metals into Common Garden Vegetables from Contaminated Soils.  Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science, 92(2): 23-26, 2019.

Danielle Hepler, Abigail Hing, Sharon Kauffman, Tjia-Ern Lau, Mallory Ziegler, Richard Schaeffer, and Kathryn Witt; How Long Should Chaya Leaves be Boiled?  ECHO Development Notes 141: 4-5, 2018.

Claude H. Yoder, Jill D. Pasteris, Katherine A. Krol, Victoria L. Weidner, and Richard W. Schaeffer; Synthesis, Structure, and Solubility of Carbonated Barium Chlor- and Hydroxylapatites. Polyhedron 44(1): 143-149, 2012.

Jennifer Esbenshade and Richard W. Schaeffer; A Survey of Heavy Metals Present in the Soils of a Retention Pond for parking Lot Runoff.  Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science 85(1):23-26, 2011

C. H. Yoder, R. W. Schaeffer, P. McWilliams, A. Roland, X. Lui, and J. Shambeda; The synthesis of copper/zinc solid solutions of hydroxyl carbonates, sulphates, nitrates, chlorides and bromides.  Mineralogical Magazine 75(5): 2573-2582, 2011.

C. H. Yoder, E. Bushong, X. Lu, V. Wiedner, Katrina Martin, John Haller, Jonathon Lorgunpai, and Richard W. Schaeffer; The Synthesis and Solubility of Copper Hydroxyl Nitrates: Gerhardite, Rouaite, and Likasite.  Mineralogical Magazine 74(3): 433-440, 2010.


  • Robert and Marilyn Smith Teaching Excellence Award, 2014
  • Daniel Swern Research Fellowship, 1990
  • Guy F. Allen Award, 1988