Kenneth A. Martin, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Chemistry

Dr. Kenneth Martin began his academic career at Pasadena College as a first-generation college student. He graduated with a B.A. in chemistry and mathematics. Inspired by his professors and academic experiences, he went on to earn an M.S. from UC Davis and a doctorate from the University of Kansas, both in physical chemistry. “I was captivated by the life-changing potential of a Christian liberal arts education,” Martin said. “I witnessed it first in my own life and then later in generations of students.” His commitment to future generations of PLNU students motivated him to play a leading role in the development of the new science complex at PLNU. The facilities came to fruition in fall 2015. When the doors to Sator Hall opened last fall, it only made sense that the physical chemistry lab was dedicated to Martin. The plaque inside includes a quote from him that helps explain why he works so passionately. “Teaching chemistry at a distinctively Christian college allows one to understand aspects of nature at the most foundational levels and at the same time acknowledge how they reveal God’s character,” it reads. Martin and his wife, Sue, have been married for 45 years. They have two adult sons, Timothy and Andrew.


  • Ph.D., Chemistry, University of Kansas
  • M.S. Chemistry University of California-Davis
  • B.A., Chemistry and B.A., Mathematics, Pasadena College (now Point Loma Nazarene University)

Courses Taught

  • General Chemistry I – CHE 152
  • General Chemistry I lab – CHE 152L
  • General Chemistry II – CHE 153
  • General Chemistry II lab – CHE 153L
  • Physical Science – PSC 110
  • Physical Chemistry I – CHE 325
  • Physical Chemistry II – CHE 326
  • Physical Chemistry II Lab – CHE 327
  • Research in Chemistry – CHE 499

Experience in Field

  • Professor, Department of Chemistry, Point Loma Nazarene University, 1990 – 2016
  • Professor, Department of Chemistry, Gordon College, 1973 – 1990
  • Teaching Assistant, University of California-Davis, 1970 – 1973
  • Undergraduate Researcher, Pasadena College, 1968 – 1970

Professional and Community Involvement

  • Research interests are in the general area of molecular spectroscopy. Most are conducted as collaborative projects with Dr. Allan Nishimura at Westmont College. The experimental methods fall into two broad categories.
  • The first area of research involves the spectroscopic study of energy transfer in thin organic films deposited on an Al2O3 surface. These studies are conducted under ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) conditions and in a temperature range from 100 K to 400 K.
  • The second area of research involves experiments that fall under the general heading of Optically Detected Magnetic Resonance (ODMR) techniques. In these experiments, optical signals are collected from a sample immersed in a liquid helium bath (~ 1.4 K) and excited with UV and microwave radiation. Such studies detect subtle changes in the triplet state of excited aromatic compounds. These signals indicate changes in the local molecular environment.
  • These research efforts seek a better understanding of the dynamics of energy transfer within solid substances. Such processes are involved in catalysis, photosynthesis, and similar important phenomena. The research team is made up of Martin, Nishimura, and undergraduate students from both their institutions.
  • Member, American Chemical Society, 1973 – present
  • Member, American Scientific Affiliation, 1977 – present

Awards and Honors

  • Distinguished Achievement Award, Point Loma Nazarene University, 2016

Dissertations, Presentations, and Publications

  • “Effect of 1-chlorohexane on the energy transfer from naphthalene to 2-methylnaphthalene on α-alumina during temperature programmed desorption”, Rachel J. DeHoog, Melissa A. Shew, K.A. Martin, A.M. Nishimura*, Trends in Physical Chemistry, 2014, 15, 1-11.
  • “Effect of water and methanol on the laser induced excimer fluorescence decay of 2-methoxynaphthalene on α-alumina during temperature programmed desorption”, Rachel J. DeHoog, Melissa A. Shew, Nicole K. Grabe, K.A. Martin, A.M. Nishimura*, Trends in Physical Chemistry, 2014, 15, 49-59.
  • “Effect of Simple Aliphatic Alcohol Thin Films on the Laser Induced Excimer Fluorescence Decay of Naphthalene on α-Alumina During Temperature Programmed Desorption”, Nicole K. Garbe, Marcus B. Anthony, K.A. Martin, and A.M. Nishimura*, Advances in Applied Physics, 2013, Vol. 1, no. 4, 127-138, HIKARI Ltd.
  • “Temperature dependent excimer luminescence of naphthalenes on α-alumina”. Samantha R. Gardner, Laura M. Selby, Rachel K. Teranishi, Michael S. Douglas1, Seth W. Simonds1, K.A. Martin1, A.M. Nishimura*, Journal of Luminescence, 134(2013) 657-664
  • “Laser-Induced Fluorescence Decay of 2-Methyl-, 2-Methoxy-, and 2-Ethylnaphthelene on α-Alumina during Temperature Programmed Desorption”, Bradly B. Baer‡*, Shanan Lau*, Hannah E. Ryan*, K.A. Martin‡, A.M. Nishimura†, Journal of Spectroscopy, (2013) 959126
  • “Fluorescence Quenching by Resonant Energy Transfer” Bradly Baer‡, K.A. Martin‡, A.M. Nishimura*†, The Chemical Educator, 2013, 18, 1-3
  • “The Effect of Substitution on the Fluorescence Property on α-Alumina and its Application to Energy Transfer and Excimer Formation”. Rachel K. Teranishi, Laura M. Selby, Samantha R. Gardner, Seth W. Simonds, Michael S. Douglas, K.A. Martin and A.M. Nishimura, “, in Naphthalene: Structure, Properties and Applications, Nadya Gotsiridze-Columbus, ed., Nova Science Publishers, Inc., Hauppauge, NY (2011)
  • “Evidence of resonance energy transfer in molecular bilayers on Al2O3 (0001)”, Samantha R. Gardner, Seth W. Simonds, K.A. Martin, A.M. Nishimura, Journal of Luminescence, 2011, 131, 1661-1663.
  • “Steric effect of methyl, methoxy, and ethyl substituents on the excimer formation of naphthalene on Al2O3(0001)” C.L. Binkley, T.C. Judkins, N.C. Freyshlag1, K.A. Martin1, A.M. Nishimura, Elsevier Surface Science, 2009, Vol. 603, 2207-2209.
  • “Use of fluorescence to probe the surface dynamics during disorder-to-disorder transition and cluster formation in dihalonaphthalene-water thin films”. D.R. Hoss, A.J. Bishop*, M.A. Evans, K.E. Howard, A.D. Louie, K.A. Martin and A.M. Nishimura Thin Solid Films 515, 1370-1376 (2006).
  • “Dynamics of Disorder-to-Order Transition in Bilayers: Formation of van der Waals Molecular Clusters by Percolation of Water Through a p-Dihalobenzene Adlayer on Al2O3(0001)” B.J. Haddock, S.L. Cowell, J.S. Brigham, T.S. LeDoux, J.G. Andre’, C.A. Moore, E. Herndon, E.J. Neethling, C. Osborn, A.J. Bishop, L. Meiling, K.A. Martin and A.M. Nishimura, Encyclopedia of Surface and Colloid Science, A.T. Hubbard and P. Somasundaran editors. Marcel Dekker (2005) N.Y. pp. 1-21.
  • “Formation of Molecular Clusters by Percolation of Water Through p-Bromochlorobenzene Adlayer on Al2O3 (0001)”, Brook Haddock, Lindsay Meiling, Stephanie Cowell, K.A. Martin and A.M. Nishimura, Surface Science, 2004, 569, 56-61.
  • A total of 64 Peer-Reviewed Publications and 49 Professional Presentations