Haishi Cao, Ph.D.


Office: BHS 411D   |    Phone: (308) 865-8105   |    Email: caoh1@unk.edu

Haishi Cao, Ph.D.



Ph.D., Organic Chemistry, New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology, 2004
M.Sc., Biochemistry, Jilin University (China), 1999
B.Sc., Biochemistry, Jilin University (China), 1995

Research Interest

Fluorescence sensing, Chemosensor, Molecular recognition and Detection of toxic ions and biological molecules.

Faculty Appointments

2017-Present, Professor, Department of Chemistry, UNK
2012-2017, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, UNK
2007-2012, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, UNK

Curriculum Vitae

Research Area

My research program focuses on using synthetic methods to prepare organic molecules functionalized as analytical approaches to quantitatively measure small molecules with extremely low concentration in the nature on the basis of spectroscopic information. My research interest includes: 1) design novel sensing switches with high affinity and sensitivity to target molecules based on molecular recognition; 2) develop novel fluorescent molecules and understand their fluorescence features; 3) use designed sensing approaches to investigate the roles of important molecules in the biological systems; 4) use nanoparticles to improve the stability and permeability of fluorescence sensors for their biological applications.

Group News

06/08/2017 - Aatiya Ahmad gave a research presentations in Central Region IDeA Meeting Sioux Falls SD.
05/04/2017 - Eunju was awarded as Honor Student for graduation. 
03/20/2017 - Carmen Pavlik is awarded as INBRE Scholar in 2017. Congratulation!    

Current Group Members

group po


ǂ denotes undergraduate author in UNK, * denotes corresponding author

28. Kim, Gǂ;. Jang, E.ǂ; Page, A.M.ǂ; Ding, T.ǂ; Carlson, K.A.; Cao, H.*, Investigation of a sensing approach on a rapid reduction of azide to selectively measure bioavailability of H2S, RSC Advances, 2016, 6, 95920-95924.

 27. Bamesberger, A.ǂ; Kim, G.ǂ; Woo, Jǂ.; Cao, H.*, Reduction of nitro group on derivative of 1,8-naphthalimide for quantitative detection of hydrogen sulfide, J. Fluoresc., 2015, 25, 25-29.
TOC 27
26. Woo, J.ǂ; Kim, G.ǂ; Qintero, K.ǂ;Hanrahan, M.P.ǂ; Palencia. H.; Cao, H.*, Investigation of desilylation in the recognition mechanism to fluoride by a 1,8-naphthalimide derivative, Org. Biomol. Chem., 2014, 12, 8275-8279.
TOC 2625. Song, Q. ǂ; Bamesberger, A. ǂ; Yang, L. ǂ; Houtwed, H. ǂ; Cao, H.*, Excimer-monomer switch: a reaction-based approach for selective detection of fluoride, Analyst, 2014, 139, 3588-3592.  25 paper24. Bamesbergera, A.ǂ; Schwartza, C.; Song, Q. ǂ; Han, W.; Wang, Z.; Cao, H.*, Rational design of a rapid fluorescent approach for detection of inorganic fluoride in MeCN/H2O: a new fluorescence switch based aryl-1,8-naphthalimide, New. J. Chem., 2014, 38, 884-888.
TOC 2423.Yang, L. ǂ; Song, Q. ǂ; Damit-Og, K. ǂ; Cao, H.*, Synthesis and spectral investigation of a turn-on fluorescence sensor with high affinity to Cu2+, Sensor Actuat B-Chem., 2013, 176, 181-185.
2322. Wang, J. ǂ; Yang, L. ǂ; Hou, C. ǂ; Cao, H.*, A new N-imidazol-1,8-naphthalimide based fluorescence sensor for fluoride detection, Org. Biomol. Chem., 2012, 10, 6271-6274.
21. Hou, C. ǂ; Urbanec, A.M. ǂ; and Cao, H.*, A rapid Hg2+ sensor based on aza-15-crown-5 ether functionalized 1,8-naphthalimide Tetrahedron Lett., 2011, 4903-4905.
2120. Hou, C. ǂ; Xiong, Y.; Fu, N.; Jacquot, C.C. ǂ; Squier, T.C.; and Cao, H.*, Turn-On ratiometric fluorescent sensor toward Pb(II) detection Tetrahedron Lett., 2011, 2692-2696.
2019. Yang, Y. ǂ; Gou, X.; Blecha, J. ǂ; Cao, H.*, A highly selective pyrene based fluorescent sensor toward Hg2+ detection Tetrahedron Lett., 2010, 3422-3425.
1918. Gou, X.; Cao, H.*, Undergraduate chemistry education in Chinese universities J. Chem. Educ.2010, 87 (6) 575-577.

Publication Prior to UNK
17. Cao, H.; Xiong, Y.; Wang, T.; Squier, T.C.; Mayer, M. U., A red cy3-based biarsenical fluorescent probe targeted to a complementary binding peptide J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2007, 129, 8672-8673, Highlighted in Nature, 2007, 448, July 5th, 4
16. Chen, B.; Cao, H.; Yan, P; Mayer, M.U.; Squier, T.C., Identification of an orthogonal peptide binding motif for biarsenical multiuse affinity probes Bioconjugate Chem., 2007, 1269-1265.
15. Cao, H.; Chen, B.; Squier, T.C.; Mayer, M.U., CrAsH: A biarsenical multi-use affinity probe with low non-specific fluorescence Chem. Commun. 2006, 2601-2603.
14. Cao, H.; Chang, V.; Hernandez, R.; Heagy, M.D., Matrix library screening of substituted N-Aryl-1,8-naphthalimides reveals new dual fluorescent dyes and unusually bright pyridine derivatives J.Org .Chem., 2005, 70, 4929-4934.
13. Cao, H.; McGill, T.; Heagy, M.D., Sustituent effects on monoboronic acid sensors for saccharides based on N -phenyl-1,8-naphthalenedicarboximides J. Org. Chem., 2004, 2959-2966.
12. Cao, H.; Heagy, M.D., Fluorescent chemosensors for carbohydrates: A decade’s worth of bright spies for saccharides in review J. Fluorescence, 2004, 569-584.
11. Geddes, CD.; Cao, H.; Gryczynski, I.; Gryczynski, Z.; Fang, J.; Lakowicz, J.R., Metalenhanced fluorescence (MEF) due to silver solloids on a planar surface: potential applications of indocyanine green to in vivo imaging J. Phys. Chem. A , 2003, 3443-3449.
10. Geddes, C.D.; Cao, H.; Lakowicz, J.R., Enhanced photostability of ICG in close proximity to gold colloids Spectrochimica Acta A, 2003, 2611-2617.
9. Sun, H.; Cao, H.; Luo, G., Preparation and property of palmitoyl modified SOD Chinese J. Bioprocess. Eng., 2003, 47-51.
8. Cao, H.; Diaz, D.I.; DiCesare, N.; Lakowicz, J.R., Heagy, M.D., Monoboronic acid sensor that displays anomalous fluorescence sensitivity to glucose Org. Lett., 2002, 1503-1505.
7. Liang, F.; Wu, Y.; Cao, H.; Guo, H.; Liu, L.; Sun, H.; Chen, W.; Liu, S., Chemical modification of human plasminogen Chem. J. Chinese Univ. 2001, 22(4) 577-580.
6. Xu, J.; Ma, J.; Xu, H.; Ma, Z.; Kong, X.; Cao, H.; Guo, H.; Liu, L., Separation and purification of pullulan and its function to protect polyphenol tea in green tea Acta Scientiarum Naturalium Universitatis Jilinensis, 2001, 88-90.
5. Cao, H.; Sun, H.; Liang, F.; Guo, H.; Liu, L., Purification and identification of pulullan Chem. J. Chinese Univ. 1999, 20(12) 78-84.
4. Yang, F.; Guo, H.; Xu, H.; Cao, H.; Liu, L., Biochemical analyses of the thrombin-like enzyme product from the venom of agkistrodon halys ussuriensis emilianov Acta Scientiarum Naturalium Universitatis Jilinensis, 1999, (2) 79-82.
3. Yang, F.; Xu, H.; Guo, H;, Cao, H.; Liu, L., Purification and quality control of thrombin-Like enzyme from venom of agkistrodon halys ussuriensis emilianov Chin. J. Biologicals, 1999, (12) 100-102.
2. Qiu, A.; Sun, H.; Zhong, H.; Liu, S.; Zhao, C.; Wu, Y.; Cao, H.; Liu, L., Purification and properties of human plasminogen Acta Scientiarum Naturalium Universitatis Jilinensis, 1998, (3) 79-81.
1. Zhao, H.; Li, C.; Xue, Y.; Zhang, L.; Cao, H.; Guo, H.; Liu, L., Mutation and screening of high production strain of pullulan Acta Scientiarum Naturalium Universitatis Jilinensis, 1998, (3) 75-78.
Recent Student Presentations
6. Jang, E., Page, A. M., Cao, H., Development of a fluorescent approach based on Cy-3 for detection of H2S, 51th ACS MWRM, Manhattan, KS, October 26-28, 2016.
5. Ding, T., Ahmad, A., Cao, H., Investigation of azide reduction as an approach to detect H2S, 51th ACS MWRM, Manhattan, KS, October 26-28, 2016.
4. Kim, G.; Jang, E.; Cao, H.; A reaction based approach for detection of H2S, 50th ACS MWRM, St. Joseph, Missouri, October 21-23, 2015.
3. Houtwed, H.; Cao, H., Synthesis of a molecule to detect hydrogen sulfide, 29th Annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research, April 16-18, 2015, Spokane, WA
2. Kim, G.; Cao, H., Investigation the cleavage of Si-O bond in trimethylsilyl ether for quantitative measurement of fluoride, 249th ACS National Meeting, March 22 – 26, 2015, Denver, Colorado
1. Houtwed, H.; Cao, H., Reaction based approach for detection of fluoride, 49th ACS Middle West Regional Meeting, November 12-15, 2014, Columbia, MO
Research Opportunities
Our group are offering research opportunities to UNK students regardless majors. Currently, several programs are available to help students initiate research. Please feel free to contact Dr. Cao if you are interesting in research, particularly for organic/bioorganic chemistry.
Former group members


Group Photos

group photo