Dr. Jeffrey Rohde

Dr. Jeff Rohde

Associate Professor of Chemistry

About Dr. Rohde

Numbers always came naturally to Franciscan University chemistry professor Dr. Jeff Rohde and his three brothers (who now, respectively, work in business, finance, and organic chemistry). That may have had something to do with their father, an aeronautical engineer at NASA.

Not that Papa Rohde gave the boys much help. According to Jeff, they rarely needed it, which was, in fact, something of a letdown for their father.

“Dad was disappointed that he didn’t get to help us with the math,” he says. “So he helped the cousins instead.”

When Rohde left that mathematically-minded family to study chemistry at Ohio State University, the idea was to pursue a career in medicine. But during his sophomore year, he realized that the very subject that proved to be most medically-minded students’ Waterloo—organic chemistry—came naturally to him. That realization changed his career plan.

“I almost felt a responsibility to continue on in chemistry,” Rohde explains. “It seemed like that was maybe how I could make the best contribution to medicine.”

Accordingly, after graduating from OSU, Rohde went to Harvard, where he earned his PhD in organic chemistry. He also earned the hand of his fellow PhD student Bridget Brandes, whom he married in 2000.

After Harvard, the couple took jobs at Abbott Laboratories in Chicago. There, for more than a decade, Rohde focused his research in the areas of neuroscience, metabolic diseases, and advanced technologies.

Rohde loved his work in the lab. “The possibility of developing a drug for a problem that didn’t have a good medical solution—that’s what kept me working late at night,” he says.

Despite that, Rohde also felt a call to the classroom. He and Bridget had both dreamed about making a contribution to the education of future scientists, and when they learned of an opening at Franciscan, they decided it might be time for Jeff to make the switch. A visit to campus confirmed that.

“The labs were beautiful,” says Rohde. “I saw the potential right away.”

The University seconded Rohde’s decision, and in 2009, Jeff, Bridget, and their four young children made the move to Steubenville.

According to Rohde, it’s been a great move.

“There’s nothing like seeing a light bulb go off in a student’s head when they finally get a concept,” he says.

And thanks to his approach to teaching, those light bulbs go off with surprising regularity.

“A lot of teachers approach organic chemistry with the idea that some students just won’t get it,” says Rohde. “But I figure if I work hard enough to make it understandable, and the students work just as hard with me, anybody can understand it.”