University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400319
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4319
(434) 924-3344 Fax: (434) 924-3710
Overview The Department of Chemistry offers outstanding physical facilities and a close-knit community of scholars—an environment which demonstrates that chemistry is far more than the study of matter and its interactions. Chemists contribute to such diverse fields as medicine, agriculture, oceanography, and archaeology. The University offers several chemistry programs, giving students the opportunity to define their individual educational and career goals.
Chemistry is divided into five areas of study: organic, inorganic, biological, physical, and analytical. The first-year courses include elements of all these areas. While organic chemistry is studied most intensely in the second year, inorganic and physical chemistry are the center of concentration in the third and fourth years. Advisors steer students toward specialized courses that correspond with their individual interests and aid them in choosing a specific program.
Faculty The 30 members of the faculty include professors who are nationally and internationally recognized in their fields. The list of recent honors received by faculty members includes the American Chemical Society’s Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry; a 1993 and 1998 Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award for excellence in both teaching and research; a 1992 and 1996 Virginia Scientist of the Year award; a 1994 Sloan Foundation Award; a 1997 Cavalier Distinguished Chair; a 1997 and 1999 Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize; an Analytical Chemistry Award in Chemical Instrumentation; a 1999 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers; and a 1999 Coblentz Award; Frank H. Field and Joe L. Franklin Award; American Chemical Society Thomson Metal, International Mass Spectrometry Society, Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award, 1999, 2000 Distinguished Service Award, Virginia Section American Chemical Society, 2001 John D. and Catherine T. McArthur Foundation Fellow Award, and a Lilly Analytical Chemistry Academic Contact Grant Award.
Teaching and research have been strengthened in recent years by a number of grants from government and private sources. These funds have permitted the acquisition of excellent instrumental facilities and the establishment of an outstanding program in molecular research. The department has also made a major commitment to research in biological, bioanalytical, and biophysical chemistry. These programs, along with ongoing research in analytical methods, spectroscopy, and synthetic inorganic and organic chemistry, provide the student with a choice of strong research areas over a broad range of the chemical sciences. The faculty attracts approximately $10.5 million yearly in outside funding to support these programs, an indicator of the vigor of the research being carried out in the department.
Students Each year approximately 85 to 100 students graduate with a degree in chemistry, which makes the program one of the largest in the nation. Students have significant opportunities to conduct research and independent study projects with professors. Advanced students may receive money from research grants or enroll in graduate courses. The class size of chemistry courses varies widely. The introductory chemistry courses are quite large, but upper level courses are usually small, with no more than thirty students per class. All lab sections are small, in order to provide an intimate atmosphere.
Students who have graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry have been admitted to the best graduate schools in the country, while some have accepted positions in industrial or government labs. The number of graduates accepted to top medical schools (especially those who specialize in biological chemistry) has been extremely high, while some graduates’ areas of expertise have prepared them for jobs in government agencies, laboratories, and chemical firms.
Special Resources Modern research is dependent on advanced instrumentation, and the department is exceedingly well endowed in this area. Eight mass spectrometers are currently housed in the department. These include a general purpose gas chromatography/quadrupole instrument equipped for both electron impact and chemical ionization, two ion trap mass spectrometers, a tandem quadrupole Fourier transform instrument equipped for ionization by fast atom bombardment, a time-of-flight instrument for surface analysis, a matrix assisted, laser desorption/time-of-flight instrument for determining the molecular mass of proteins and oligonucleotides, and two triple quadrupole instruments employed for protein sequence analysis at the low picomole level.
The nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) facility includes two 7 T spectrometers, one 8.4 T spectrometer, and two 11.7 T spectrometers, which operate at 300, 360, and 500 MHz for proton resonances, respectively.
The Molecular Structure Laboratory has a Brucker SMART APEX CCD diffractometer with low temperature capacities currently available for structure determination. The laboratory also hosts several PCs and three SGI computers—Octane, Origin 2200 and Personal Iris 4D35—used for computational and quantum chemistry calculations for a variety of systems, including proteins and nucleic acids. The modeling software includes the Insight/Discover, Macromodel, Spartan and Gaussian03 packages. The Cambridge Crystallographic Data Base is also available. Undergraduates are offered training on these facilities.
Research in molecular spectroscopy is a major focus of a number of research groups and is supported by a variety of instrumentation. Routine apparatus for ultraviolet (UV), visible, and infrared (IR) studies are available. The departmental has six FTIR spectrometers, several having far IR and high resolution <0.25 cm
-1) capabilities and two spectrofluorimeters. In addition, the department has two electron spin resonance (ESR) spectrometers with variable temperature capabilities.The Center for Atomic Molecular and Optical Sciences (CAMOS) Laser Facility within the department houses ultrafast Ti:sapphire, Nd:YAG, excimer, and ion lasers, as well as tunable dye lasers, optical parametric oscillators/amplifiers, and a color center laser. In addition, a unique laser laboratory is accessible at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, Va. which is home to the world’s most powerful free electron laser (FEL)—a 10 kW IR FEL. Lasers are employed to interrogate and to control matter of all kinds and are often used as initiators and probes of molecular kinetics and dynamics.