Department Of Chemistry and Biochemistry


Students majoring in chemistry and related sciences are invited to participate in research with chemistry faculty.  Under the direction of one or two faculty members, participants gain practical experience with chemistry by working on a project focused on a current topic in research.  There are a variety of different projects going on in the department, some of which are briefly described below.

You can enroll in our research course (CHEM 4160/4260), participate in the Welch summer research program, or volunteer research time with chemistry faculty.  Projects started by one of these modes can be continued through others; you could, for example, start a project one summer in the Welch program and enroll in CHEM 4260 in the Fall to continue your work.

Chemistry Research Course - CHEM 4160/4260

Students who want to enroll in the research course should talk to different faculty members to find a project they are interested in with a professor who can supervise them.  Students taking the course generally coordinate the times they will work each week with their supervising faculty members.  When and how much you work will be up to your research professor, though an average of 5-6 hours per week is typical for CHEM 4260.  Either of these courses can be taken by students who have completed CHEM 1302 and 1102 (Chemical Principles II and Lab).  CHEM 4260 is generally offered every Fall and Spring.

Welch Summer Research Program

Each summer a group of students are selected to work with faculty for a research experience which lasts 5 weeks.  Participating students are paid a stipend, and thus cannot also receive credit for CHEM 4260, though frequently students will enroll in the course in the fall to continue the projects they started in the summer.  To apply for the 2014 Welch Summer Research Program please complete the following application: Welch Summer Research Program Application. Applications for this year program must be submitted to Dr. Rafael Adrian no later than March 7th, 2014.



Faculty Research Interest

Synthesis of Heteronuclear Metal Complexes

Faculty involved: Dr. Rafael Adrian

The preparation of organic compounds which chelate two different metals is of interest for a wide variety of interests.  For example, a compound with one group that binds well to DNA and another group which cleaves DNA could be a better anti-cancer agent than a molecule containing only the DNA cleaving group.  This project focuses on the synthesis of compounds that poses a DNA-binding group such as a palladium terpyridine connected by a linker to a group known to catalyze the cleavage of DNA, such as the ruthenium bipyridine.  Variations in linker rigidity and length, as well as different DNA binding and cleavage groups will be examined.



Biochemistry and Metabolism in Unicellular Algae

Faculty involved: Dr. Betsy Leverett

Algae are among the most adaptable and diverse organisms on earth, thriving in nearly every type of habitat and climate, and providing the base of the food chain for most aquatic life. The biochemistry and metabolism of these fascinating organisms are especially important in extreme environments, in which they are not widely studied. Our current studies focus on the involvement of redox dynamics in the cellular processes of unicellular algae including temperature and light acclimation, lipid accumulation, stress metabolism, cell signaling, and defense. The objectives of this work are to characterize the specific roles and cellular targets of oxidoreductases in algal species of interest, and to develop educational exercises that utilize unicellular algae as model subjects to demonstrate concepts and techniques in biochemistry, organic chemistry, and cell biology.