The Chemistry Department maintains a high-quality, well-funded research program (> $7.7 million in research awards in 2020) with participation of students at both the graduate and undergraduate level. The research program in the department emphasizes interdisciplinary approaches to solving real world problems in areas including sustainability, alternative energy, environmental concerns, materials, bio-detection, nanomedicines and water quality assessment, to name a few. Our sponsors include the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund and a number of industrial partners.

A particular strength of the department is participation in interdisciplinary projects. Collaborative projects are currently underway with faculty and students in the departments of Physics, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Geology and Geological Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Environmental Science and Engineering. Off-campus collaborators include scientists at nearby government laboratories such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Many faculty members also advise students in interdisciplinary degree programs in geochemistry, hydrology and material sciences.

Core Research Areas


Instrument design and development in: mass spectrometry, PCT analysis, advanced thermal conductivity, DRIFTs, X-ray and temperature programmed desorption techniques, and separations


Nanomedicines, medical isotopes, algal biofuels, protein structure, dynamics and interactions


Materials design via charge density engineering, quantum chemistry of reactive species, molecular simulation, statistical mechanics, and bioinformatics


Photovoltaics, nuclear fuels, fuel cells, water splitting, radiation detection, batteries/energy storage, hydrogen storage and hydrogen carriers


Detection and fate of trace elements and nanoparticles in the environment, aqueous environmental chemistry, and geochemistry

Polymer Science

Polymer synthesis, drug delivery, living free-radical polymerization chemistry and kinetics, characterization, membranes, and mechanical properties

Surface and Nano Science

XPS, microscopy, surface analysis, laser spectroscopy, molecular simulation, statistical mechanics, and nanoscience