I am an Associate Research Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Dakota State University. Indeed, I serve as the entire Chemistry Program and I co-coordinate the Analytical Science Program. I teach all the core chemistry courses as well as advanced courses in Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Organic Chemistry, Environmental Toxicology, Astrobiology, Astrochemistry, Prebiotic Chemistry (Chemical Evolution), Advanced Research Methods, and Extraterrestrial Oceanography. I also teach the popular Introductory Science course for the General Beadle Honors Program entitled: A Science Odyssey: From the Big Bang to Extraterrestrial Life to the Death of the Universe.

Since joining the Dakota State faculty in 2012, I have grown a robust undergraduate scientific research program broadly focused in the areas of pollutant impacts on environmental and human health, astrobiology/prebiotic chemistry, computational chemistry, drug discovery in toxic environments, and supercritical fluids (green chemistry). My students work on research problems at the cutting-edge of multiple disciplines, presenting their research findings at national and international conferences and publishing in respected scientific journals. My program building efforts at Dakota State have produced the following: 

  • 5 first-author papers published.

  • 6 student co-authored papers published or in revision for resubmission.  

  • 20 student co-authored abstracts published. 

  • 4 student co-authored papers in preparation for submission to the journals AstrobiologyEnvironmental Pollution, Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, and Environmental Monitoring and Assessment by the end of academic year 2019/20.

  • 76 student talks and posters (57 invited).

  • 4 best student presentation awards. 

  • 21 student co-authored research and teaching grants (all funded).

  • 31 students awarded REUs at R1 universities and national labs, and matriculated into PhD, MD, PharmD, DPT, PA, MPH, MSN, and MS programs.

  • 4 students earning Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher awards from the South Dakota State Legislature.

  • 2 students awarded Dakota State’s prestigious Lowry Scholar and Academic Leadership Awards for outstanding leadership in research and scholarship.

  • Invited talk and student posters (and my chairing an invited session) at the NASA/AGU Astrobiology Science Conference (2019).

  • Invited student posters (and my chairing an invited session) at the Origins of Life Gordon Research Conference (2018).

  • Back-to-back institutional nominations for the prestigious Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award in the chemical sciences (2018/19).

  • 4 invited student posters presented at the South Dakota State Legislature (2015-18).

  • An invited student poster presented at the CUR Posters on the Hill Research Symposium in the U.S. Congress (2019).

  • Invited student talks and a student co-organized/co-chaired session at the International Conference on Environmental Pollution and Health in Guangzhou, China (2017).

  • Dakota State’s first Barry Goldwater Scholars (2017/18) and the only Goldwater Scholarship award made in South Dakota in 2017.

  • Dakota State’s first NASA Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Research Fellows (two in 2018).

  • An invited student talk at the SETAC World Congress (2016).

  • Dakota State’s Merrill Hunter Faculty Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research (2016).

  • Dakota State’s first Fermi National Lab Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow (2015).

  • Dakota State’s first Mayo Clinic Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow (2014).

  • Dakota State’s first U.S. EPA Undergraduate Environmental Research Fellow (2014).

  • An ACS Green Chemistry Teaching Award (2014).


Highly interdisciplinary research opportunities are available in the Gaylor Lab. If you are curious, self-starting, hardworking, and have strong interests in the areas of chemistry, biology, environmental science, astrobiology, planetary science, molecular modeling, statistical analysis, and big data analytics, please contact me to learn how you can become involved in my research program.


Prebiotic Chemistry & Astrobiology

We have multiple projects ongoing to assess plausible pathways by which geochemistry could give rise to living chemistries in prebiotic planetary environments e.g. Mars, Ceres, and the icy moons Europa and Enceladus. These efforts encompass experimental, theoretical, and computational approaches.  

Environmental Analytical Chemistry & Ecotoxicology

We have multiple projects ongoing to assess the impacts of anthropogenic chemicals on environmental and human health, all of which require development and validation of analytical methods. 

Food Chemistry 

We have multiple projects ongoing to characterize the volatilome and microbiome of preserved foods perfectly sealed since the early 20th Century. One such project is our so-called "Pumpkin Project" (Dakota State's first ever crowdfunded student research project).

Green Chemistry

We have multiple projects ongoing to asses the potential for supercritical carbon dioxide to efficiently extract anthropogenic chemicals from environmental samples, and to facilitate chemical reactions relevant to origins of life.   

Natural Products Chemistry

We are collaborating with our colleagues at Southern Oregon University and Oregon State University to asses the potential for cyanobacteria to express fungal diterpene synthase enzymes and produce antimicrobial terpenoids.   


Ph.D. Marine Science

Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)

College of William and Mary

M.A. Chemistry

College of William and Mary

B.S. Biology (w/ Departmental Honors)

Christopher Newport University