Nov 20, 2018  
2018-2019 University Catalog 
    
2018-2019 University Catalog

Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacognosy Graduate Programs


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Program Description

The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry offers graduate programs leading to the master of science (MS thesis or non-thesis) and doctor of philosophy (PhD) in chemistry (specialties: analytical, computational, medicinal, organic, and physical chemistry); biochemistry (specialties: bioanalytical chemistry and peptide, protein, lipid and nucleic acid chemistry); and pharmacognosy (MS thesis or non-thesis and PhD; specialties: analytical pharmacognosy and natural product synthesis). Pharmacognosy, i.e., natural product chemistry, is a multidisciplinary field drawing on expertise from chemistry, biology, and pharmacology in order to give students the necessary breadth of experience.

Each program is designed to prepare students for careers in academic, industrial, and governmental settings. Individualized programs of study, which take advantage of modern instrumentation, provide a solid foundation for independent research. In addition to the possibility of performing research in the traditional areas in chemistry, i.e., organic, inorganic, physical, analytical, and biochemistry, the close affiliation of chemistry faculty with faculty in pharmacology, toxicology, bioinformatics, and pharmaceutics has resulted in a particularly strong research focus on the application of chemical methods to research problems in the health sciences and drug discovery.

Students in the graduate programs offered by the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry will:

  • Achieve an in-depth understanding of important concepts pertaining to all the major areas of chemistry appropriate to the research problem being addressed and be able to apply the knowledge gained.
  • Be exposed to the laboratory procedures and chemical instrumentation necessary for the solution of the research problem being addressed and be able to use them effectively for that purpose.
  • Become aware of critical safety issues and environmental regulations.
  • Be able to use computers effectively for both scientific and nonscientific tasks.
  • Be able to explore the scientific literature using a variety of resources and communicate that information effectively.
  • Attain a level of problem-solving and critical-thinking skills appropriate to the graduate degree being sought and be able to learn independently.

Students also have an exciting opportunity to use computer-modeling techniques to understand and predict the structure and behavior of chemical and biochemical systems through our West Center for Computational Chemistry and Drug Design. The West Center faculty currently consists of a focused group of five faculty members from the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry with expertise in computational chemistry and biochemistry. A combination of several powerful, parallel-processing, Beowulf “supercomputer” clusters, running sophisticated software packages, is available for use by students.

Students entering the graduate program in chemistry, biochemistry, or pharmacognosy may have any undergraduate degree that satisfies all the prerequisites for these programs. However, in some instances the graduate program director will need to assign appropriate undergraduate courses to ensure that students are properly prepared for the graduate courses in their particular program.

The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry also offers the option of an integrated BS/MS or BS/PhD degree program for qualified undergraduate students who wish to pursue an MS or PhD degree in biochemistry, chemistry, or pharmacognosy while completing their undergraduate degree. Students interested in this option should contact the graduate program director in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.

Prerequisites


Program Expected Courses 
Core expectations for ALL Programs

Calculus II

Organic Chemistry II (with laboratory)

Analytical Chemistry I

Literature of Chemistry 

English Composition I 

Chemistry 

1 term Biochemistry

2 terms Physical Chemistry (with at least 1 term lab)

1 term Instrumental Analysis

1 term Inorganic Chemistry 

Biochemistry 

2 terms Biochemistry (with at least 1 term lab)

1 term Physical Chemistry

1 term Cell Biology or Advanced Biochemistry

1 term Genetics

Pharmacognosy (Natural Products Chemistry)

1 term Organismal or Population Biology

1 term Cell Biology or Biochemistry 

1 term Statistics 

 

MS and PhD Program Requirements


A minimum of 33 credits is required for the MS non-thesis degree; a minimum of 33 credits is required for the MS thesis degree; and a minimum of 43 credits is required for the PhD degree. Students also participate in the department’s seminar courses and, if in a MS thesis or PhD program, complete a laboratory rotation to assist in the selection of a thesis research advisor. Specific courses are assigned by the graduate program director and the student’s Advisory Committee once a thesis advisor is selected.

In order to help the program director evaluate an entering student’s background, each student takes a series of entrance examinations in specific areas of chemistry that will vary depending upon which of the three department programs is chosen.

A prospectus describing the student’s anticipated independent research project must be submitted by students in an MS thesis or PhD program. This research will be completed under the direction of a member of the graduate faculty, with the guidance of an Advisory Committee. Students who enter the PhD program must also complete a series of comprehensive examinations. Each MS thesis and PhD student must complete the research necessary to defend a thesis based on an original research project and report the results of this research at professional meetings. PhD students must publish at least one original research article in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Department Graduate Core (9 Credits)


Each program requires the Department graduate core, the program core and additional courses, which are defined below.

Department Graduate Core Courses: 

Footnotes:


1. ST 710 may be substituted at the recommendation of the Advisor or Advisory Committee for those students with no statistics background.

2. Students must participate in CH 802 every term after their first year. The first course taken students will receive 2 credits for the course, in subsequent terms, the course will be taken for 0 credits. 

Biochemistry Curricula


Biochemistry Core (15 Credits)


Department Graduate Core Credits: 9 

MS (Non-Thesis) Track


  • Biochemistry Core Credits: 15
  • Additional 700 or 800 level Chemistry or Biology Courses Credits: 18See Footnotes 1& 2

Total Credits: 33


MS (Thesis) Requirements


  • Biochemistry Core Credits: 15
  • Additional 700 or 800 Level Chemistry or Biology Course Credits: 3See Footnotes 1 & 2 

Total Credits: 33


PhD Requirements


  • Biochemistry Core Credits: 15
  • Additional 700 or 800 level Chemistry or Biology Course Credits: 3See Footnotes 1 & 2

Total Credits: 43


Footnotes:


1. Courses must be approved by Advisor or Advisory Committee. 

2. May include up to 6 credits of 300 or 300 level courses approved by Advisor or Program Director. 

Chemistry Curricula


Chemistry Core (15 Credits)


  • Department Graduate Core Credits: 9
  • Two Graduate courses (6 credits) from the following:
    • Organic Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, or Bioinformatics Graduate Course

 

MS (Non-Thesis) Track


  • Chemistry Core Credits: 15
  • Additional 700 or 800 level Chemistry Courses Credits: 18See Footnotes 1 & 2

Total Credits: 33


MS (Thesis) Track


  • Chemistry Core Credits: 15
  • Additional 700 or 800 level Chemistry Course Credits: 3See Footnotes 1 & 2 

Total Credits: 33


PhD Requirements


  • Chemistry Core Credits: 15
  • Additional 700 or 800 level Chemistry CourseSee Footnotes 1 & 2 

Total Credits: 43


Footnotes:


1. Courses must be approved by Advisor or Advisory Committee. 

2. May include up to 6 credits of 300 or 300 level courses approved by Advisor or Program Director. 

Pharmacognosy – Natural Products Chemistry


Pharmacognosy Core (18 Credits)


  • Department Graduate Core Credits: 9 

MS (Non-Thesis) Track


  • Pharmacognosy Core Credits: 18
  • Additional 700 or 800 level Chemistry or Biology Courses Credits: 15See Footnotes 1 & 2  

Total Credits: 33


MS (Thesis) Track


  • Pharmacognosy Core Credits: 18

Total Credits: 33


PhD Track


  • Pharmacognosy Core Credits: 18

Total Credits: 43


Faculty – Biochemistry, Chemistry, and Pharmacognosy*


Vojislava Pophristic
BS (University of Belgrade); PhD (Rutgers University)
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Chair, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Phone: 215.596.8551
E-mail: v.pophri@usciences.edu
Research: uses computational tools to study structures and dynamics of chemical structures that mimic 3D motifs found in biomolecules. Her group also works on computational design of oligomers for therapeutic applications.

James R. McKee
BS, MS, PhD (University of Maryland)
Professor of Chemistry
Director, Graduate Programs in Biochemistry, Chemistry, and Pharmacognosy
Phone: 215.596.8847
E-mail: j.mckee@usciences.edu
Research: synthesis of antibiotics - sulfonanilides and sulfones in particular - as well as the preparation of heterocyclic compounds with medical applications.

Nathan Baird
BS (Wheaton College); MS, PhD (University of Chicago)
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry
Email: n.baird@usciences.edu
Research: employs a battery of techniques, including high-throughput screening and structural methods, to identify and characterize lead compounds that modulate RNA structure and function. His group aims to establish novel assays for developing therapeutics that target RNA

Catherine M. Bentzley
BS (St. Joseph’s University); PhD (University of Delaware)
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Phone: 215.596.8581
E-mail: c.bentzl@usciences.edu
Research: applies mass spectrometry to identify biologically important molecules, including oligonucleotides, volatile organic compounds, and steroids, in an array of samples, from commercial beverages to meat products.

Michael F. Bruist
BS (Stanford University); PhD (Cornell University)
Associate Professor of Biochemistry
Phone: 215.596.8530
E-mail: m.bruist@usciences.edu
Research: A combination of experimental and computational approaches are used to study DNA and RNA, and the proteins that interact with them.

Elisabetta Fasella
BS (University di Roma, Italy); PhD (Columbia University)
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Phone: 215.596.7514
E-mail: e.fasell@usciences.edu
Research: is interested in the development of green organic synthesis methods

Zhijun Li
BS, MS (Tsinghua University, China); PhD (Vanderbilt University)
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Director, Graduate Program in Bioinformatics
Phone: 215.596.7539
E-mail: z.li@usciences.edu
Research: focuses on generation and analysis of 3D structures and proteins using computational and bioinformatics tools. His group relies on a broad range of techniques to tackle complex biological problems in multiple dimensions.

Zhiwei Liu 
BS, MS (Peking University, China); PhD (Emory University)
Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Associate Director, West Center for Computational Chemistry and Drug Design 
Phone: 215.596.3190
E-mail: z.liu@usciences.edu
Research: using computational methods to study chemical, biological and biomimetic systems to gain molecular insights into mechanisms of chemical reactions, biological and biomedical functions. 

Charles N. McEwen
BS (College of William and Mary); MS (Atlanta University); PhD (University of Virginia)
Houghton Endowed Professor of Chemistry
Phone: 215.596.8552
E-mail: c.mcewen@usciences.edu
Research: develops new ionization methods and integrates them into commercial atmospheric pressure ion sources, making them capable of nearly universal ionization.

Preston B. Moore
BS (Bates College); PhD (Boston University)
Professor of Chemistry
Director, West Center for Computational Chemistry and Drug Design
Phone: 215.596.7537
E-mail: p.moore@usciences.edu
Research: applies sophisticated computer modeling to understand membrane biophysics and develops new computational chemistry methods that allow the simulation and design of biologically relevant nanostructures.

Frederick Schaefer
BS (Franklin and Marshall College); PhD (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Phone: 215.596.8842
E-mail: f.schaef@usciences.edu
Research: research interests in physical and polymer chemistry that include characterization of macromolecules in solutions using optical techniques.

Alexander Sidorenko
MS (I. Franko Lviv State University, Ukraine); PhD (National Academy of Sciences, Ukraine)
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Phone: 215.596.8836
E-mail: a.sidore@usciences.edu
Research: focuses on materials science and nanochemistry. His group synthesizes polymers and biopolymers and designs and modifies thin films as well as nanostructural and hybrid (“smart”) materials.

John W. Tomsho
BS (University of the Sciences); PhD (University of Michigan)
Associate Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Phone: 215.596.7395
E-mail: j.tomsho@usciences.edu
Research: develops new agents for treating diseases. He and his team combine tools from chemistry and biology to discover synthetic and bio-inspired small molecules and peptides that inhibit enzymes and protein-protein interactions.

Zhihong Wang
BS (Yantai University, China); MS (Xiamen University, China); PhD (University of Utah)
Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry
E-mail: z.wang@usciences.edu
Research: focuses on oncogenic kinases that play a significant role in human cancers. With the goal of developing new cancer therapies, the Wang Laboratory applies biochemical, biological and structural tools to understand the molecular mechanism of aberrant signaling processes in tumor cells.

Randy J. Zauhar
BS/BA (Eastern Washington University); MS, PhD (Pennsylvania State University)
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Research Associate Professor of Biophysics
Phone: 215.596.8691
E-mail: r.zauhar@usciences.edu
Research: works on computer-aided drug discovery and molecular biophysics. He develops new computational tools for identifying candidate drug molecules, and his group is actively developing new cancer therapeutics and antimicrobials.

Jointly Appointed Faculty 

Adeboye Adejare
BS, MS (University of Iowa); PhD (Ohio State University)
Research Professor of Medicinal Chemistry
Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Phone: 215.596.8944
E-mail: a.adejar@usciences.edu
Research: mechanisms of neurodegeneration; drug targeting; pharmaceutical profiling; chemistry of fluoroaromatic compounds

Sergio Freire
MSc (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil)
Associate Professor of Physics
Phone: 215.596.8958
E-mail: s.freire@usciences.edu
Research: The research is focused on two lines of investigation, including the development of platforms based on digital microfluids for lab-on-a-chip applications, and the characterization of molecular motors, particularly using force microscopy. The activities involve undergraduate students, in a multidisciplinary environment.

Peter J. Harvison
BS (Carnegie Mellon University); PhD (State University of New York, Buffalo)
Research Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry
Phone: 215.596.8979
E-mail: p.harvis@usciences.edu
Research: in vitro and in vivo metabolism of drugs and chemicals; formation and disposition of toxic metabolites; structure-toxicity relationships; application of analytical techniques such as HPLC to metabolism studies.

Bela Peethambaran
BS (St. Xavier’s College, India); MS (Gujarat University, India); PhD (Mississippi State University)
Assistant Professor of Biology
Research Assistant Professor of Pharmacognosy
Phone: 215.596.8923
E-mail: b.peethambaran@usciences.edu
Research: engineering plants as a source of bioactive compounds such as phenolics and flavonols; effects of Myrothamnus on cancer cell lines

Notes:
* More information about faculty research activities can be found at each faculty member’s web page.
† Research professors are members of the graduate faculty in other departments.

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