Robert Rittenhouse

Senior Lecturer, Physical Chemistry

Phone: (509) 963-2844
Fax: (509) 963-1050
Office: Science Building 302B


  • PhD, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • BS, Atlantic Union College

Research Interests:

I am fascinated by the complexity of cellular DNA repair, particularly the role of DNA polymerases, like polymerase β, which mastermind the insertion of the correct nucleotide into a gap in one strand of dual stranded DNA. I use modern computational chemistry methods, such as molecular dynamics simulations, free energy calculations, and quantum mechanical calculations on active site models to investigate the details of the polymerase β catalytic mechanism.

I am also interested in the use of computer simulations and graphical animations to help students visualize and comprehend the rather abstract models of reality at the atomic/molecular level that have been developed by physicists and chemists over the last century.


  • Robert C. Rittenhouse. “Understanding Atomic Structure:  Is There a More Direct and Compelling Connection between Atomic Line Spectra and the Quantization of an Atom’s Energy?” Journal of Chemical Education, 2015, 92, 1035.
  • Yingbin Ge, Robert C. Rittenhouse, Jacob C. Buchanan, and Benjamin Livingston. “Using a Spreadsheet to Solve the Schrödinger Equations for the Energies of the Ground Electronic State and the Two Lowest Excited States of H2” Journal of Chemical Education, 2014, 91, 853.
  • John A. Hawkins, Jeffrey L. Rittenhouse, Linda M. Soper, and Robert. C. Rittenhouse. "The Primitive Unit Cell is a Useful Aid in Understanding Subtle Features of the Cubic Close-Packed Structure" Journal of Chemical Education, 2008, 85, 90.
  • Robert. C. Rittenhouse, Linda M. Soper, and Jeffrey L. Rittenhouse. "Filling in the Hexagonal Close-Packed Unit Cell" Journal of Chemical Education, 2006, 83, 185.
  • Robert. C. Rittenhouse, contributor. Chemistry: Foundations and Applications, Macmillan Reference 2004
  • Robert C. Rittenhouse, Wlodzimierz K. Apostoluk, John H. Miller, and T.P. Straatsma. "Characterization of the Active Site of DNA Polymerase Beta by Molecular Dynamics and Quantum Chemical Calculation" PROTEINS: Structure, Function, and Genetics 2003; 53: 667 682.
  • Koca, J.; Zhan, C.-G.; Rittenhouse, R.C.; Ornstein, R.L. "Coordination Number of Zinc Ions in the Phosphotriesterase Active Site by Molecular Dynamics and Quantum Mechanics" J.Comput. Chem. 2003 24 (3), 368.
  • Koca, J.; Zhan, C.-G.; Rittenhouse, R. C.; Ornstein, R. L. "Mobility of the Active Site Bound Paraoxon and Sarin in Zinc-Phosphotriesterase by Molecular Dynamics Simulation and Quantum Chemical Calculation" J.Am.Chem.Soc. 2000, 123, 817.
  • Zhan, C.-G.; Norberto de Souza, O.; Rittenhouse, R. C.; Ornstein, R. L. "Determination of Two Structural Forms of Catalytic Bridging ligand in Zinc-Phosphotriesterase by Molecular Dynamics Simulation and Quantum Chemical Calculation" J.Am.Chem.Soc. 1999, 121, 7279.
  • R.C. Rittenhouse, "HPLC for Windows", Journal of Chemical Education: Software, 1995, Vol. 3D, No. 2.
  • G. Henderson, R.C. Rittenhouse, J.C. Wright, J.L. Holmes, "How a Photon is Created or Absorbed", Journal of Chemical Education: Software, 1993, VC, (2).
  • R.C. Rittenhouse, "Rutherford: Exploring the Scattering of Alpha Particles", Journal of Chemical Education: Software, 1992, VB, (2), 31-45.
  • P.Pavlik; R.C. Rittenhouse; M.J. Rose; W.F. Coleman "Atomic Spectroscopy", Journal of Chemical Education: Software, 1992, VB, (1), 23-35.
  • R.C. Rittenhouse, "The NOTEBOOK Array Calculator - A Laboratory Tool for General Chemistry", Journal of Chemical Education: Software, 1991, IVB, (1), 23-37.