David Haines

Associate Professor Emeritus of Chemistry


Teaches organic chemistry, introductory chemistry, and seminars in medicinal chemistry and advanced organic chemistry, helping students claim understanding and ownership of the material through collaborative work.

Professor Haines is studying how structures of molecules affect their biological activity. One of his projects is focused on insulin production and release as caused by the natural peptide GLP-1. This peptide causes insulin release, but only when blood sugar levels are high. By understanding how the structure of GLP-1 causes this release, it may be possible to design a synthetic molecule which accomplishes the same function, but which is cheaper to produce and easier to administer than are current diabetes treatments. A second major aspect of his research is focused on the training and nurturing of undergraduate chemists. Not only has Professor Haines trained more than 160 students in his research labs, he is also the originator and director of a national travel awards program which each year sponsors over fifty undergraduate chemists from across the country in their presentations at National Meetings of the American Chemical Society.

Professor Haines teaches Organic Chemistry, Introductory Chemistry, and seminars in Medicinal Chemistry and Advanced Organic Chemistry. His approach to all of these courses is designed to help students claim understanding and ownership of the material, in large part through collaborative work which promotes both depth and flexibility in problem solving and the ability to communicate scientific understanding effectively. Problem sets often require multiple perspectives in order to develop good understanding and effective solutions, and Professor Haines instituted weekly group problem solving sessions for his Organic courses more than twenty years ago. In the Advanced Organic course, the problems are often based on questions from the literature to which nobody has good answers, but which the students in the class have the tools to make contributions, and their vigorous discussions lead to even greater insights.

Professor Haines has been a member (now emeriti) of the NSF REU Chemistry Leadership Group since it was founded in 2001. This group provides support for the travel awards program which Professor Haines directs. The Leadership Group was created to enhance the effects of the NSF on undergraduate research through the REU program and through outreach to under-represented minorities via collaborations with LS-AMP programs. Professor Haines was an invited speaker at a recent National American Chemical Society Meeting and spoke on “Constructing a Longitudinal Scientific Community for the Undergraduate Research Student.” Professor Haines has recently served as a reviewer for five Organic Chemistry textbooks.

Professor Haines is an avid collector of printed and manuscript material on the history of the Religious Society of Friends. His collection, numbering more than 16,000 items, was recently honored by the Friends of the Wellesley College Library. He serves on the revision committee for the book of Faith and Practice for the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends. In 2012, Professor Haines and his wife, Nancy, co-chaired (both the organizing committee and the conference itself) the Friends General Conference Gathering, the largest annual gathering of Quakers in North America. Beginning during his recent sabbatical at Duke University, Professor Haines has become intrigued by the art and chemistry of hand thrown pottery.