Jun 25, 2021  
2018-2019 University Catalog 
2018-2019 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Chemistry & Biochemistry

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The mission of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry is to:

  • Promote the expansion of scientific knowledge through the integration of research and teaching.
  • Strive to make discoveries and innovations in chemical sciences through research activities by undergraduate and graduate students, and faculty.
  • Promote excellence in teaching in all courses and programs to advance student education and future career goals, and prepare them to be lifelong learners.
  • Benefit the community and society through dissemination of knowledge, professional service and outreach.


The chemical sciences are focused on understanding the molecular makeup of the substances around us, from concrete to penicillin to DNA. Chemists and biochemists synthesize new molecules and study how molecules behave in order to improve our lives. They help to develop new products, increase agricultural productivity, and reduce the incidence of disease. Careers for chemists and biochemists exist in academics, industry, and government, and individuals with chemical training find careers in many diverse areas, including medicine, patent law, government agencies, pharmaceutical laboratories, and many manufacturing facilities.

The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry is dedicated to the education of students interested in the health and natural sciences at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

At the undergraduate level, the department offers three distinct majors leading to the bachelor of science in chemistry, biochemistry, or pharmaceutical chemistry. Students interested in pre-med or pre-law can use any of these degrees as excellent preparation for their further professional education in medicine or patent law. USciences has agreements guaranteeing places for outstanding students in medical professional programs in the region. Students in these programs complete a BS degree from USciences as well as the desired medical science professional degree. Students interested in these programs must meet with the pre-professional advisor no later than the second semester of their first year at the University.

Students may also opt to pursue an integrated MS or PhD degree and a BS in chemistry or biochemistry, completing MS degree requirements with as little as one additional year of study.

Students in the chemistry, biochemistry, and pharmaceutical chemistry programs will:

  • Achieve an in-depth understanding of important concepts pertaining to all the major areas of chemistry (analytical, biochemical, inorganic, organic, and physical) and be able to apply the knowledge gained.
  • Be exposed to a wide variety of laboratory procedures and chemical instrumentation and be able to use them effectively to solve chemical problems;
  • Become aware of critical safety issues and environmental regulations.
  • Be able to use computers effectively for both scientific and non-scientific tasks.
  • Be able to explore the scientific literature using a variety of resources and communicate that information effectively.
  • Attain a high level of problem-solving and critical-thinking skills and be able to learn independently.

All three curricula provide a solid foundation in organic and inorganic chemistry in the first two years, along with supporting courses in biology, mathematics, and physics. Even in these early courses, students have the advantage of relatively small classes. The general education curriculum, completed by all students at the University, provides exposure to the humanities and social sciences, as well as providing critical oral and written communication skills.

During the course of the entire four-year curriculum, students receive training in all five major areas of chemistry (analytical, biochemical, inorganic, organic, and physical) and exposure to a variety of sophisticated instrumentation. Computer technology is incorporated throughout all three curricula, and a department computer cluster is available to support this effort. Chemistry, biochemistry, and pharmaceutical chemistry majors who complete appropriate chemistry electives will also meet the rigorous standards for American Chemical Society (ACS) certification.

Regardless of major, all students are encouraged to carry out an undergraduate research project under the guidance of one of the faculty members in the department. The large number of regular faculty ensures that students receive individual attention both in and out of the classroom. In addition, their backgrounds span all of the traditional areas of chemistry, including analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry, as well as biochemistry. Their diverse research interests provide a wide variety of research opportunities for students.

Undergraduate research gives the student the opportunity to explore one area of biochemistry or chemistry in depth and to take advantage of the more sophisticated instrumentation available. Interdisciplinary areas such as computational chemistry, supported by the advanced computers available in the West Center for Computational Chemistry and Drug Design, also provide exciting opportunities for research. The independent nature of undergraduate research is recognized as a valuable learning experience by industrial and governmental employers, as well as by graduate and professional schools.

Students are also encouraged to participate in the American Chemical Society Student Affiliate Chapter, which organizes and sponsors seminars, field trips to industrial and/or governmental laboratories, picnics, and other social activities.

Students typically have summer internship opportunities, and the University has an excellent record of placement of its graduates in graduate and professional schools, as well as in medical, industrial, and governmental laboratories.

At the graduate level, the department offers the MS and PhD in biochemistry, chemistry, bioinformatics, and pharmacognosy. (Please see the College of Graduate Studies section for more detailed information.) In addition to the research expertise of the department’s faculty members, research professors from the departments of Biological Sciences, and Pharmaceutical Sciences greatly expand the range of research opportunities available for graduate students.

For more complete information about the department’s faculty and programs, please consult the department website at www.usciences.edu/chemistry.

Faculty * †

Vojislava Pophristic
BS (University of Belgrade, Serbia); PhD (Rutgers University)
Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Chair, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Phone: 215.596.8551
E-mail: v.pophri@usciences.edu

Nathan J. Baird
BS (Wheaton College); MS, PhD (University of Chicago)
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry
Phone: 215.596.8839

Catherine M. Bentzley
BS (St. Joseph’s University); PhD (University of Delaware)
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Assistant Chair, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Phone: 215.596.8581
E-mail: c.bentzl@usciences.edu

Edward R. Birnbaum
BS (Brooklyn College); MS, PhD (University of Illinois)
Professor Emeritus of Chemistry
Phone: 215.596.8839
E-mail: e.birnba@usciences.edu

Michael F. Bruist
BS (Stanford University); PhD (Cornell University)
Associate Professor of Biochemistry
Phone: 215.596.8530
E-mail: m.bruist@usciences.edu

Lena DeLisser-Matthews
BS (Fordham University); MS, PhD (Columbia University)
Professor Emeritus of Chemistry
Phone: 215.596.8839
E-mail: chem@usciences.edu

Elisabetta Fasella
BS (Universitá di Roma “La Sapienza,” Italy); MS, PhD (Columbia University)
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Phone: 215.596.7514
E-mail: e.fasell@usciences.edu

Yumee K. Koo
BS, MS (Yonsei University, Korea); PhD (University of Illinois)
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry
Phone: 215.596.7546
E-mail: y.koo@usciences.edu

Zhijun Li
BS, MS (Tsinghua University, China); PhD (Vanderbilt University)
Professor of Bioinformatics
Director, Graduate Program in Bioinformatics
Phone: 215.596.7539
E-mail: z.li@usciences.edu

Zhiwei Liu
BS, MS (Peking University, China); PhD (Emory University)
Assistant Professor of Chemistry 
Assistant Director, West Center for Computational Chemistry & Drug Design 
Phone: 267.295.3190
E-mail: z.liu@usciences.edu

Madhumati Mahalingam
BS (Delhi, India); MS (Indian Institute of Technology, India); PhD (State University of New York, Stony Brook)
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Assistant Chair, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Phone: 215.596.7549
E-mail: m.mahali@usciences.edu

Charles N. McEwen
BS (College of William and Mary); MS (Atlanta University); PhD (University of Virginia)
Houghton Endowed Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Phone: 215.596.8552
E-mail: c.mcewen@usciences.edu

James R. McKee
BS, 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

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

Elisabeth A. Morlino
BS, PhD (Bowling Green State University)
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Assistant Chair, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Phone: 215.596.7469
E-mail: e.morlin@usciences.edu

Frederick T. Schaefer
AB (Franklin and Marshall College); PhD (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
Associate Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Phone: 215.596.8842
E-mail: f.schaef@usciences.edu

Alexander Sidorenko
MS (I. Franko Lviv State University, Ukraine); PhD (National Academy of Sciences, Ukraine)
Associate Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Phone: 215.596.8836
E-mail: a.sidore@usciences.edu

Julian W. Snow
BS (University of Washington); PhD (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Professor Emeritus of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Phone: 215.596.8837
E-mail: j.snow@usciences.edu

John W. Tomsho
BS (University of the Sciences); PhD (Univeristy of Michigan)
Associate Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Co-Director, Chemistry Core Facility
Phone: 215.596.7395
E-mail: j.tomsho@usciences.edu

Zhihong Wang
BS (Yantai University, China); MS (Xiamen University, China); PhD (University of Utah)
Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Phone: 215.596.8839
E-mail: z.wang@usciences.edu

Murray Zanger
BS (City College of New York); PhD (University of Kansas)
Professor Emeritus of Chemistry
Phone: 215.596.8838
E-mail: m.zanger@usciences.edu

Randy J. Zauhar
BS/BA (Eastern Washington University); MS, PhD (Pennsylvania State University)
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Phone: 215.596.8691
E-mail: r.zauhar@usciences.edu

* Additional research faculty members are associated with the graduate programs in chemistry, biochemistry, and pharmacognosy. Does not include adjunct or visiting faculty.

† More information about each faculty member can be found on our website at www.usciences.edu/academics/collegesdepts/chemistry/faculty.


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