Welcome from the Chair of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Welcome to the website for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Duquesne University. Our department has a long, proud tradition, including the first reported synthesis of ferrocene by a young Assistant Professor named Peter Pauson and his graduate student, Thomas Kealy, in 1951. We continue that tradition of innovation and passionate engagement in teaching, scholarship, and service to this day. An intimate, intellectually stimulating atmosphere of research and discovery in chemistry and multidisciplinary science pervades the department, engaging graduate students, undergraduates, and faculty in collaborative work to address some of society’s most pressing current issues.
Our faculty of three teaching and 15 tenure track professors currently includes three Fellows of the American Chemical Society, National Science Foundation Career awardees, a winner of multiple R&D 100 Awards, patent holders, editors of professional journals, and multiple winners of university awards for teaching, scholarship, and service. Although our program is organized around the traditional fields of Analytical, Biochemistry, Inorganic, Organic, and Physical Chemistry, interdisciplinary strengths in Biomolecular, Computational, and Environmental Chemistry take us to the frontiers of chemical research and its applications. Throughout their work, graduate and undergraduate students partner with the faculty, as our professors constantly strive to live out Duquesne’s mission to “serve God by serving students.”
Our graduate program fosters active learning through a research-based curriculum beginning with two, semester-long research “rotations,” continuing with a formal dissertation outline and data defense, and culminating in the dissertation defense itself. Throughout their graduate careers, our award-winning students examine emerging scientific problems of fundamental scientific importance, with practical implications for our broader society. Students also have ample opportunity to develop critical non-technical skills such as communication, teamwork, and leadership by writing papers, presenting talks and posters, and through voluntary participation in departmental committees such as the Safety Committee. Opportunities abound for collaborations with our Biology Department and School of Pharmacy, as well as companies, government labs, and other universities in the Pittsburgh area.
Our vibrant undergraduate program is also designed to teach students to think like scientists by doing science. Our chemistry and biochemistry majors start their college careers with enquiry-based laboratories and end with two semesters of “Integrated Laboratory” where they address miniature research questions. In between, students are offered internships at industry leaders such as Bayer and Valspar and welcomed into research laboratories as early as possible, where they work side-by-side with professors and graduate students. All students thus have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with our modern research instrumentation in mass spectrometry, NMR, powder and single-crystal X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, and high-performance computing, funded in part by nine NSF/MRI grants secured over the past 12 years. Major facilities include the Agilent Center of Excellence in Mass Spectrometry and the university’s Center for Computational Sciences. Concurrently, we maintain a strong sense of community within the Department by ensuring small class sizes and engaging students with our award-winning ACS Student Members organization. Scholarship opportunities—funded by Bayer Materials Science, the NSF S-STEM program, and the Crable endowment—are abundant and augmented with close faculty mentoring. Summer research opportunities also abound, currently funded by the NSF/REU program (12 years), NIH/SRE program (five years), the NSF/S-STEM program (three years), the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Science, and individual research grants. Each Summer, our research program engages 35-45 undergraduates and each Spring the Department and the Bayer School fund the travel of 15-20 undergraduate researchers to present their work at the American Chemical Society national meeting.
The success of our focus on teaching fundamental scientific concepts through experiential learning and non-technical skills by forming mentored student cohorts is proven by the success of our recent graduates who have won NSF pre-(2011 and 2012) and post-(2011) doctoral fellowships, gained admission to some of the nation’s best graduate programs and medical schools (including Boston University Medical School, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Maryland-College Park, Michigan, Northwestern, Ohio State, the University of Rochester, Vanderbilt Medical School, Yale Medical School, and the Yale School of Public Health), and secured employment at some of America’s most prominent companies and government agencies (Bayer, PPG, Valspar, NIH and the CDC).
We are excited to share our progress with you and invite you to learn more by browsing our website or contacting us directly!
Ralph A. Wheeler
Professor and Department Chair
Fellow, American Chemical Society