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Our Mission

The Department of Chemistry is dedicated to excellence in education, research, and public service. We strive towards these goals through world-class teaching in the classroom and laboratory, research aimed at solving some of society's most important human health, energy, and environmental problems, fostering an environment of safety, and embracing diversity of communities and ideas to benefit Minnesota, the nation, and the world.

We provide a world-class education through classroom teaching and cutting-edge research. As a central, core discipline in science and engineering, chemistry is critical for solving society's most important problems and making significant positive impacts on human health, energy, and the environment. We have been a national and international leader throughout our history. A range of companies and academic institutions throughout the world hire our graduates and collaborate with us on research. Our alumni have enormous societal impact as academicians, K-12 teachers, scientists and managers in industrial and government laboratories, lawyers, public policy advocates, entrepreneurs, and in a diverse array of other fields.


Undergraduate female conducting research
Our undergraduates have opportunities to engage in research working under the mentorship of our graduate students and professors. Photo credit: Richard Anderson.

As a central science, chemistry courses are required for many majors at the university. Forty-three regular faculty members, 13 affiliate senior graduate faculty, and five temporary lecturers teach more than 42,800 student credit hours per year. There are approximately 230 graduate students and 276 undergraduate students majoring in chemistry. More than 135 bachelor's degrees, 60 master’s degrees, and 33 doctorates are granted each year. 

Fifteen current faculty members have won teaching awards and are members of the University of Minnesota’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers, attesting to the outstanding quality of instruction provided in the department. Forefront instructional methods include online learning, flipped classrooms, problem-based and guided-inquiry laboratories, analytical curriculum and laboratory, special polymer and advanced chemical biology laboratories, and chemistry for life sciences sequence of lectures and labs. 


Professor Erin Carlson in her laboratory
Professor Erin Carlson was named by President Barack Obama as a recipient of the 2016 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. She was nominated for this prestigious award by the National Science Foundation for her discovery of novel chemistry underlying a new approach to treat antibiotic-resistant infections, for leadership in the chemistry and women-chemists communities, and for developing new hands-on laboratory activities to engage K-12 students in natural product chemistry. Photo by Patrick O’Leary.

Research in the department is collaborative and interdisciplinary. Overarching goals of ongoing research projects include improving human health and the environment, developing nanotechnology and novel advanced materials for a myriad of applications, and unraveling problems associated with devising new, alternative sources of energy. Research performed by graduate and undergraduate students as well as some 69 post-doctoral associates resulted in more than $18.982 million in research expenditures in 2016-17.

Our Chemistry Summer Research Program encourages outstanding undergraduate students to learn more about research and provides them with the opportunity to work in laboratories under the direction of faculty members. In addition, the Summer Lando/National Science Foundation (NSF) Research for Undergraduate Student (REU) program brings in students selected from a national competition. 

The department houses a number of multi-disciplinary and collaborative research centers including the Center for Metals in Biocatalysis, Center for Sustainable Polymers, Center for Analysis of Biomolecular Signaling, Chemical Theory Center, Chemical Biology Initiative, Inorganometallic Catalyst Design Center, Mass Cytometry Initiative, Nanoporous Materials Genome Center as well as the director of the National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, and associate director of the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology.

Our researchers have access to a number of outstanding facilities including the Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Laboratory and X-Ray Crysallographic Laboratory, which are housed in the department's LeClaire-Dow Instrumentation Facility. University facilities include the Characterization Facilitiy, Minnesota Nano Center, Minnesota NMR Center, Minnesota Supercomputing Institute, Polymer Characterization Facility, and University Imaging Centers.


Professor Christy Haynes leads the methane demonstration
Professor Christy Haynes is one of the leading presenters for Energy and U.

Diverse and dynamic efforts to inform the public about chemistry and its societal significance are critically important for an educated citizenry. We conduct chemistry demonstrations and experiments and discuss chemistry careers in local elementary, junior high, and senior high school classes and local libraries. We participate in events at the Science Museum of Minnesota, local parent-teacher association meetings, the Minnesota State Fair, Math & Science Family Fun Day at the university, the Bell Museum, and University on the Prairie. Some of our graduate students teach chemistry to adult learners in our community.

We bring students to campus for special chemistry camps, workshops, and demonstrations. Students and their parents meet our professors and graduate students, learn about chemistry through hands-on experiments, and see chemistry in action. Through Cool Chemistry, we offer a special day of experiments and demonstrations to middle school girls. The popular Energy and U show is an interactive presentation that emphasizes the important topic of energy through a choreographed set of demonstrations that integrates physical and chemical principles, energy conversion demonstrations, explosions, audience participation, music, and humor. In 2017, more than 10,600 3rd-6th grade students and teachers saw the show. In May 2015, Energy and U embarked on a new collaborative partnership with the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance, and moved to the Rarig Center. This partnership has opened doors to additional possibilities for the show, including a higher level of professionalism and space for more students to attend.

The Department of Chemistry, Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science, and Center for Sustainable Polymers created a display for the Eco Experience Building at the Minnesota State Fair, focusing on green chemistry, polymers and plastics, and engineering. The multi-faceted exhibit includes informative displays highlighting the latest research and teaching, and hands-on activities for young people.


Donald Truhlar inducted in the Academy of Arts and Sciences
Regents Professor Donald G. Truhlar was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Saturday, October 10, 2015.

Our faculty members have received many prestigious awards. Six members of the department have been members of the National Academy of Sciences and one has received a Nobel Prize. Our international and national award-winning faculty includes recipients of the F. Albert Cotton Award in Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry (John Ellis); Analytical Chemistry Award (Peter Carr); Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry (Donald Truhlar); Ralph F. Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry (George Barany); Murray Goodman Scientific Excellence & Mentorship Award (George Barany); Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (Erin Carlson); Alfred Bader Award in Bioinorganic or Bioorganic Chemistry (Lawrence Que Jr.); Japan Society of Coordination Chemistry International Award (Lawrence Que Jr.); Ernest Guenther Award in the Chemistry of Natural Products (Thomas Hoye); Bourke Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry (Laura Gagliardi); Royal Society of Chemistry's Robert Robinson Award (Thomas Hoye); Earle K. Plyler Prize for Molecular Spectroscopy and Dynamics (Donald Truhlar); Herman F. Mark Polymer Chemistry Award (Timothy Lodge); American Chemical Society Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (Thomas Hoye); American Chemical Society Award in Inorganic Chemistry (Lawrence Que Jr.); American Chemical Society Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry (William Tolman); Carl Marvel Award in Creative Polymer Chemistry (Marc Hillmyer and Theresa Reineke); National Finalist for the 2017 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists (Christy Haynes); Paul J. Flory Polymer Education Award from the American Chemical Society Polymer Division (Timothy Lodge); and Department of Energy Early Career Research Program award (Renee Frontiera). 

Three faculty members are Regents Professors (Timothy Lodge, Lawrence Que Jr., and Donald Truhlar); two are members of the National Academy of Sciences and American Academy of Arts & Sciences (Timothy Lodge and Donald Truhlar); one is a McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair (Marc Hillmyer); and 12 are University Distinguished McKnight Professors. Fourteen faculty members serve as editors for 17 top chemistry journals, playing key roles in the worldwide dissemination of scientific knowledge.