Research Opportunities

The Department of Chemistry is at the forefront of basic and applied research, with faculty driving breakthroughs in diverse areas of chemical science. In each of our dynamic research groups, faculty and students coalesce around an area of research. Advanced labs and equipment support our activities.

Research opportunities in the department are wide-ranging and available to students at both the undergraduate and graduate level of study. All faculty members accept undergraduate student researchers into their labs. Graduate students work closely with a faculty advisor and their peers in a research group. Participate in innovative, hands-on projects as you become an expert in the topic of your choice.

Learn more about our research groups and their associated faculty.

Research Areas

Chemical Catalysis

Catalysts accelerate chemical reactions. Departmental research in this area includes development of new metallic and organo-metallic catalysts and understanding their activity at a molecular level.

 

Faculty                          Areas of Interests

Low-valent molybdenum complexes capable of activating dinitrogen; Synthesis and characterization of heteronuclear quadruply bonded metal-metal complexes; Molecular dihydrogen compounds; Catalytic applications of metal-oxo/peroxo systems in the area of epoxidation of olefins; Construction of metallo-framework cluster materials

Chemical Measurement

Research in chemical measurement is focused on developing better, faster, more-accurate, and more-detailed analyses of chemical substances and processes. Departmental expertise includes fluorescent sensors, chromatography, and ultrahigh resolution mass spectroscopy.

Faculty                          Areas of Interests

Understanding the identities, occurrence, and transformation of aerosol organic compounds; Identifying organic aerosol constituents from a variety of atmospheric environments; Exploration of new LC column chemistries with ultrahigh pressure pumps for fast and thorough separations; Aqueous reaction pathways
Synthesis, characterization, and biomedical and sensing applications of water-soluble conjugated glycopolymers, glycodendrimers, glyconanopaticles, conjugated polyelectrolytes, small redox-active carbohydrate conjugates, and functional carbon nanotube arrays

Chemical Structure, Dynamics, and Mechanisms

Faculty conduct experimental and theoretical research directed toward elucidating electronic and molecular structure, structure-activity relationships, and dynamic interactions at the molecular level. Departmental research may include studies focusing on the dynamic behavior and chemical reactions of molecules and atomic and molecular clusters in gas, liquid, and solid phases.

 

Faculty                          Areas of Interests

The nickel electrode used in Ni-hydrogen and Ni-Cd batteries (the active cathode material is actually a nickel hydroxide or oxyhydroxide); Prediction of vibrational spectra; Influence of point defects on vibrational spectra; Vibrational spectra of minerals
Computational characterization of molecules and materials: energetic materials, nanoporous materials, cementing materials, active pharmaceutical ingredients, crystal growth, nucleation, surfaces, effect of defects on the structures and properties of materials, effect of water/solvents on material evolution and degradation, biomolecules

Chemical Synthesis

Departmental research includes the synthesis of novel organic, inorganic, and organometallic molecules, as well as the development of new synthetic methodologies.

 

Faculty                          Areas of Interests

Chemical biology: development of novel molecular probes for DNA sequencing analysis and disease gene discovery; Medicinal chemistry: development of new imaging and therapeutic agents towards cancer and cardiovascular disease; Design and synthesis of novel prodrugs of peptides and peptide mimetics.
Organic synthesis, including the synthesis of natural and unnatural useful molecules and the development of synthetic methodologies.
Improving and developing new methods for heterocycle synthesis; Creating novel applications for sulfoxides and other reactive sulfur species
Synthesis, characterization, and biomedical and sensing applications of water-soluble conjugated glycopolymers, glycodendrimers, glyconanopaticles, conjugated polyelectrolytes, small redox-active carbohydrate conjugates, and functional carbon nanotube arrays

Chemistry Education

Studies focus on the teaching and learning of chemistry, including new teaching methods, assessment, and education of teachers.

 

Faculty                          Areas of Interests

Chemical education; Technology-supported learning; Online and Blended Classrooms; Flipped Classrooms; Spatial Ability

Chemistry of Life Processes

Research employs chemical approaches to investigate processes at the chemistry-biology interface.

 

Faculty                          Areas of Interests

Structure, metabolism, and biological role of phosphoinositides in plant cells; Catalytic and structural aspects of phytases, including specificity of hydrolysis, molecular weight and subunit structure, amino acid sequence, and molecular biology; Biosynthesis, subcellular localization, and biological role of novel scyllo-inositol containing phosphoinositides
Understanding the molecular recognition features and assembly mechanisms of gene regulation
Protein aggregation diseases; Consequences of protein misfolding in vitro and how it relates to misfolding in vivo; Molecular crowding
Molecular basis of glycan (carbohydrate)-mediated biological functions; Glycan binding proteins or lectins; Glycan detection; Mechanistic glycobiology; Macromolecular communication; Biomolecular thermodynamics

Environmental Chemical Sciences

Research in the environmental chemical sciences promotes the understanding of natural and anthropogenic chemical processes in our environment.

 

Faculty                          Areas of Interests

Origin and fate of DOC in terrestrial, lake, and marine environments; Methods for detection of free radicals, photochemical transformations of natural and anthropogenic organic compounds in the environment; Oxidative degradation reactions; Response of aquatic systems to climate change; Effects of electrostatic charge and ionic strength on fast reaction kinetics; Behavior of metal-contaminated sediments in the Lake Superior basin; Fluorescence-based analytical methods
Understanding the identities, occurrence, and transformation of aerosol organic compounds; Identifying organic aerosol constituents from a variety of atmospheric environments; Exploration of new LC column chemistries with ultrahigh pressure pumps for fast and thorough separations; Aqueous reaction pathways

Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanochemistry

Departmental research addresses the creation or study of macromolecular, supramolecular, and nanoscopic species and other organized structures that show unique chemical and physical properties and reactivities.

 

Faculty                          Areas of Interests

Synthesizing, processing, and characterizing polymers and composites or nanoparticles; Stimulus-response nanoparticles for drug delivery; Electrospinning of nanofibers for tissue scaffolds; Structured nanoparticles for low-leaching wood preservation; Biocomposites and biofibers; Studies of controlled nanoscale interfaces of rice-hull reinforced composites; Engineered wood- or biopolymer-reinforced composites having improved processing, longevity, moisture resistance, and mechanical properties
Synthesis, characterization, and biomedical and sensing applications of water-soluble conjugated glycopolymers, glycodendrimers, glyconanopaticles, conjugated polyelectrolytes, small redox-active carbohydrate conjugates, and functional carbon nanotube arrays

Theory, Models, and Computational Methods

The discovery and development of theoretical and computational methods/models to address chemical challenges is the focus of this departmental research group. Areas of interest include electronic structure, quantum reaction dynamics, statistical mechanics, molecular dynamics, and simulation and modeling techniques for molecular systems and systems in condensed phases.

 

Faculty                          Areas of Interests

Computational characterization of molecules and materials: energetic materials, nanoporous materials, cementing materials, active pharmaceutical ingredients, crystal growth, nucleation, surfaces, effect of defects on the structures and properties of materials, effect of water/solvents on material evolution and degradation, biomolecules