As a chemistry professor, Dr. Armstrong teaches courses, serves as a mentor of student research and does independent research. His area of specialty is organic synthesis, primarily of novel heterocyclic, organofluorine, and cyclopropyl derivatives — including, in some cases, microwave promotion.
His more recent research has included a full year of full-time sabbatical research in organic syntheses, with Nobel Laureate Dr. Herbert C. Brown and with Dr. David Nichols at Purdue University. He has also done organic synthetic research during several recent summers in large universities and one industry. That research — and research done independently at ONU, including his more recent research in the area of microwave-promoted organic syntheses, using ONU's Biotage Microwave Instrument (the "Initiator" model) — has resulted in several publications and presentations, including:
- Poster, "Anti-TB and Antibacterial Activities of Natural Products Extracts," Gordon Research Conference on Natural Products, Proctor Academy, Andover, New Hampshire, July 28 to August 2, 2013.• Travel grants from the "Center for Workshops in the Chemical Sciences" (CWCS) to attend and give oral presentations on "Undergraduate Student Research in Microwave-Promoted Organic Syntheses" at the 21st Biennial Conference on Chemical Education, University of North Texas, 2010, and at the 239th American Chemical Society National Meeting, San Francisco, 2010.
- Poster #260, "Progress Toward the Synthesis of Pentafluorosulfanyl - and Gem - Difluoro-Cyclic Compounds, Including Microwave Assistance," 19th International Symposium on Fluorine Chemistry, Jackson Hole, Wyo., 2009.
- Poster PO-22, "Progress Toward the Synthesis of Complex Fused-Ring Mesoionic Heterocycles, Including Microwave Assistance," 22nd International Congress on Heterocyclic Chemistry, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, 2009.
- "Microwave-Assisted Synthesis of Heterocyclic Compounds," Polymer Preprints, 49(2), 938-939, 2008.
- Oral Presentation #61, "Microwave-Assisted Syntheses of Heterocyclic Compounds," Division of Polymer Chemistry, 236th ACS National Meeting, August, Philadelphia, Penn., 2008.
- Invited Lecture, "Mesoionic Compounds: Definition, Syntheses and Pharmacological Activities of Selected Examples," Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, 2008.
- Poster # PP-17, "Investigations into 1,1,1-trifluoro-N-quinolin-8-ylmethanesulfonamide as a Potential Antibacterial Agent and Potential Therapeutic Agent for Huntington's Disease," 10th International Conference on the Chemistry of Antibiotics and other Bioactive Compounds, Vanderbilt University, 2007.
- "Pyrrole Syntheses Based on Titanium-Catalyzed Hydroamination of Diynes," Organic Letters, Vol. 6, No. 17, 2957-2960, 2004.
- "Quaternary trialkyl(polyfluoroalkyl)ammonium Salts Including Liquid Iodides," Tetrahedron Letters, 44, 9367-9370, 2003.
- Poster #11-PO-12, "Pyrrole Derivatives via Catalytic Hydroamination of 1,4- and 1,5- Diynes," 19th International Congress of Heterocyclic Chemistry, Colorado State University, 2003.
He is also doing natural products research. One of the extracts from a particular plant species, done by one of his student researchers during summer 2010, was determined to have anti-tuberculosis activity, by the Institute for Tuberculosis Research, College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at Chicago. Also, extracts from several plant species were determined by Notre Dame University to have antibacterial activity against several bacterial species. Further investigations are underway.
He is an active member of the International Society of Heterocyclic Chemistry and the American Chemical Society, and has held offices in the ACS Northeast and Joliet Sections. He is also active in the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area, and has organized and conducted four lecture series for that organization, with the most recent one being on green chemistry in 2010. This was based on his participation in the "Green Chemistry in Education Workshop" at the University of Oregon, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and by CWCS, in 2010. He is a regular participant in the meetings of the Midwest Association of Chemistry Teachers in Liberal Arts Colleges, which seeks to improve the teaching of chemistry in the small liberal arts college/university environment.