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Dr. Pamela (Vaughan) Benz

  • Position: Professor and Associate Chair
  • Department: Chemistry
  • Office Location: Building 58C, Room 204B
  • Campus: 850.474.3152


Dr. Pamela (Vaughan) Benz, an Professor, Associate Chair, holds a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Maryland, teaches instrumental, analytical and general chemistry and works with undergraduate students on independent research projects. Benz's primary research focus is photo-chemistry examining environmental impacts of toxic contaminants. In 2016, her paper examining the effects of photochemical degradation of oil was featured in the “highlights” section on the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill (GoMRI) website.

Publications carrying her work include Marine Pollution Bulletin, Journal of Applied Sciences, Limnology and Oceanography, Photochemistry and Photobiology, and the Journal of Physical Chemistry. Benz is also a member of teams which won competitive external grants for research projects, including an ADVANCE grant for ~ $600,000 from the National Science Foundation to develop ways to recruit, retain and promote female faculty in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

She has served as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation, Marine Chemistry, Journal of Chemical Education, and Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. Benz earned a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Florida in 1993 and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in 1999. She was a National Research Council Fellow at the EPA from 1999-2000. Since joining UWF in 2006, Benz served in various leadership roles including college leadership councils and founded the Office of Undergraduate Research in 2010.

Degrees & Institutions:

National Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellow (U.S. EPA)
Ph.D. Analytical Chemistry, University of Maryland
B.S. Chemistry, University of Florida


Research focuses on photochemical reactivity of natural waters components including CDOM (colored dissolved organic matter) and petroleum products. Analytical techniques such as radical-trapping are used to quantify photochemically produced reactive oxygen species (i.e. hydroxyl radical and superoxide). Current research looks at the relationship between photochemical degradation and bacterial toxicity of these compounds.

Current Courses:

  • CHM 1020 Concepts in Chemistry
  • CHM 2045/L General Chemistry 1 w/ lab
  • CHM 4130/L Instrumental Analysis w/lab
  • CHM 4930/CHM 5932 Environmental Chemistry

Classes Taught:

  • CHM 4930/CHM 5932 Environmental Chemistry (Advanced Topics)
  • CHM 4912/4905 - Undergraduate Student Research/Directed Study
  • CHM 4130/CHM 5134- Instrumental Analysis lecture
  • CHM 4130L/CHM 5134L- Instrumental Analysis lab
  • CHM 3120 - Analytical Chemistry lecture
  • CHM 3120L - Analytical Chemistry lab
  • CHM 2045 - General Chemistry I lecture
  • CHM 1032L- Fundamentals of Chemistry
  • CHM 2046 - General Chemistry II lecture
  • CHM 2046L - General Chemistry II lab
  • CHM 1020 - Concepts in Chemistry lecture
  • CHM 1020L - Concepts in Chemistry lab


Building a Community of Practice: A Case Study of Introductory College Chemistry Students, Jonathan L. Hall, Katherine R. Whitaker, Samantha R. Seals, Pamela P. Benz, Journal for STEM Education Research, 2022, 5(3):1-21.

Laura Swann, Jonathan Hall, Katie Vaccaro-Garska, Samantha Seals, Pamela Benz, "Development and Implementation of an Undergraduate STEM Peer Coaching Program”, Journal of College Science Teaching, accepted 2022.

Saint-Louis, C. J.; Magill, L. L.; Wilson, J. A.; Schroeder, A. R.; Harrell, S. E.; Jackson, N. S.; Trindell, J. A.; Kim, S.; Fisch, A. R.; Munro, L.; Catalano, V. J.; Webster, C. E.; Vaughan, P. P.; Molek, K. S.; Schrock, A. K.; Huggins, M. T. The Synthesis and Characterization of Highly Fluorescent Polycyclic Azaborine Chromophores. The Journal of Organic Chemistry 201681 (22), 10955–10963. 

Vaughan, P. P.; Wilson, T.; Kamerman, R.; Hagy, M. E.; Mckenna, A.; Chen, H.; Jeffrey, W. H. Photochemical Changes in Water Accommodated Fractions of MC252 and Surrogate Oil Created during Solar Exposure as Determined by FT-ICR MS. Marine Pollution Bulletin 2016104 (1-2), 262–268.

Keywords: toxic organic compounds, heavy metals, solar radiation during bacterioplankton production measurements, lycopene stability, photoactive quinones, photochemical oxidation of water