Steven Romberger, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Chemistry; Director of the Office of Scholarly Endeavors

Steven Romberger



  • Ph.D. Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology, Pennsylvania State University, 2011
  • B.S. Biochemistry, Susquehanna University, 2005

Until it happened, I never imagined myself as a college professor. While finishing up my Ph.D., I took a position as an adjunct professor – at the time, I saw my time in academia as a temporary thing until I found the right position in industry. That adjunct position evolved into a visiting professor at a neighboring university and before I realized it, I was doing most of the things that a more traditional professor was doing. That led me to do a job search and that was when I found this eclectic, interdisciplinary college called Hiram.

Steven Romberger is an Associate Professor of Chemistry and Coordinator of the Biochemistry major. He currently teaches courses in biochemistry and analytical chemistry but has previously taught in the first-year program. His research focuses on studying the biochemistry of photosynthesis in unusual organisms. Of particular interest are the poorly understood heliobacteria. He maintains an active research group with several undergraduate collaborators. When not in the laboratory, he can likely be found with his wife Stacy throwing ball for their cattle dogs Lily and Argos and, on occasion, has been spotted hiking the trails near their home in Hiram.

  • Mentoring my research students
  • Advisor of the Chemistry Club
  • Director of the Office of Scholarly Endeavors
  • Coordinator for Hiram’s Choose Ohio First program
  • Sugar Day Coordinator (Learn More About Sugar Day)

  • Steven P. Romberger and John H. Golbeck (2012), “The FX iron-sulfur cluster serves as the terminal bound electron acceptor in heliobacterial reaction centers.” Photosynthesis Research, 111(3), 285 – 290.
  • Josephine Sarrou, Zahid Khan, John Cowgill, Su Lin, Daniel Brune, Steven P. Romberger, John H. Golbeck and Kevin E. Redding (2012), “Purification of the photosynthetic reaction center from Heliobacterium modesticaldum.” Photosynthesis Research,111(3), 291 – 302.
  • Yusuke Tsukatani, Steven P. Romberger, John H. Golbeck and Donald A. Bryant (2012), “Isolation and characterization of a homodimeric type-I reaction center complex from Candidatus Chloracidobacterium thermophilum, an aerobic chlorophototroph.” Journal of Biological Chemistry, 287(8), 5720-5732.
  • Amaya M. Garcia Costas, Yusuke Tsukatani, Steven P. Romberger, Gert T. Oostergetel, Egbert J.Boekema, John H. Golbeck, Donald A. Bryant (2011), “Ultrastructural analysis and identification of envelope proteins of “Candidatus Chloracidobacterium thermophilum” chlorosomes.” Journal of Bacteriology, 193, 6701-6711.
  • Steven P. Romberger, Christian Castro, Yili Sun and John H. Golbeck (2010), “Identification and characterization of PshBII, a second FA/FB – containing polypeptide in the photosynthetic reaction center of Heliobacterium modesticaldum.” Photosynthesis Research, 104, 293 – 304.

  • Basic Biochemistry
  • Intermediate Biochemistry
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Senior Seminar
  • Research Techniques
  • Various Special Topics Courses

Favorite Course TO TEACH

“This is actually something of a trick question since I don’t have one particular favorite course. Instead, I have a few favorite topics or ideas that show up in different courses. For instance, much of my scientific background is in protein structure and function and these are two topics that we spend significant time on in Basic Biochemistry, but we also do a semester-long, student-designed enzymology research project in Intermediate Biochemistry, so those two sections are really fun sections to teach. Quantitative Analysis completely changed the way I thought about chemistry as a student, so helping my own students through that process while teaching that same course is really satisfying.”


Lab Research Summary

Photosynthesis is often taught as the light-driven conversion of water and carbon dioxide into glucose and oxygen.  While this is not an incorrect statement, it is only partially correct.  One might say it is 2/8 of the picture, as there are 8 distinct taxa of photosynthetic organisms and only 2 do photosynthesis in this manner:  plants and cyanobacteria (formerly called blue-green algae). Of the six taxa remaining, only three convert carbon dioxide into other compounds and they are never compounds as complex as the 6-carbon compound glucose; they will synthesis much simpler, 3-carbon compounds such as pyruvate.  There are three taxa of photosynthetic organisms that all we really know is that their photosynthetic reactions are something plus light presumably yields something else. 

My research group predominantly works with one of those taxa, a group of anaerobic bacteria called the heliobacteria, and we are, in effect, trying to determine the something and something else.  The heliobacteria are, quite obviously, doing something very different photosynthetically and it is our goal to determine what those differences are.

Figure 1.  Diagram showing the relationship between the eight distinct taxa of phototrophs and their balanced equation of photosynthesis.  Each taxon is colored to match the most common colors of the organisms in that group.  You’ll notice that photosynthesis actually covers the entire visible spectrum and that a few of the names are something of misnomers (for instance, the green-sulfur bacteria have members species that brown)

“I have a pretty active research group, typically with 6 – 12 students at any one time, all working on different projects. Thus, making sure they each get the one-on-one mentoring to be successful with their projects, as well as the behind-the-scenes management of those projects and my laboratory space (i.e. ordering supplies, maintaining equipment, etc.) is a big responsibility.”

Steve Romberger, Chemistry
Summer 2022: Mark Macri (Biochemistry Major) and Satasha George (Biology Major)
Looking for research opportunities with me?

Current Research Assistants

  • Charlie Gullet
  • Satasha George
  • Mark Macri
  • Meaghan Stafford
  • Tayleigh Price
  • Meghan Falkowski
  • Amber Fox
  • Cailey Shew
  • Allison Redman