When it comes to research, the University of Idaho Department of Chemistry is at the top of its game. In recent years, six faculty members have received the University of Idaho Award for Faculty Excellence in Research. Many faculty members have written textbooks and book chapters; combined, they publish about 50 research papers a year and give more than 100 presentations at scientific events and meetings around the world. In fact, our faculty members are annually awarded grants and contracts from federal agencies and private industry averaging $1.5 million. As a student in this top-notch program, you will have the unique opportunity to contribute to a diverse and dynamic research community, right from the start.
Faculty research is loosely organized around the traditional divisions of analytical, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry, but there is interdisciplinary work in bio-organic, environmental, and materials chemistry going on as well. Here are some groundbreaking research projects happening on campus:
- Dr. Frank Cheng is developing new detectors for peroxide explosives, which are widely used by terrorists.
- Dr. Patrick Hrdlicka is focused on the development of designer nucleic acids (NAs) for applications in therapeutics, diagnostics, and nanobioscience.
- Dr. Jean’ne Shreeve is working in the area of fluorine chemistry, including ionic liquids, and energetic materials.
- Dr. Eric Brauns is working on biomolecular structure and dynamics, especially with ribonucleic acid (RNA).
- Dr. Ray von Wandruszka is exploring the genesis of humic materials, the breakdown products of plant and animal matter in the environment.
- Dr. Chien Wai is using supercritical fluids in the synthesis of nanomaterials and the remediation of nuclear waste.
- Dr. Tom Bitterwolf is developing metal nitrosyl compounds for use as photopharmaceutical agents.
- Dr. Richard Williams works with theoretically interesting compounds, notably the synthesis and characterization of the first neutral homoaromatic molecule.
Our student chapter of the American Chemical Society is very involved in the community. By joining, you can meet friends and classmates who are also interested in chemistry.
One of the best things about studying chemistry at the University of Idaho is the vast opportunity to participate in research activities. You'll interact with faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows on a one-to-one basis. Some of our students start working in the labs as early as their first semester. As you take more advanced courses and get a better feel for what type of chemistry you want to pursue, you may be put in charge of your own project. In some cases, you’ll even have the opportunity to present your research findings at professional meetings or in chemistry journals.
It’s an exciting time to be a chemistry student at the University of Idaho. The department has state-of-the-art equipment for both teaching and research. In our freshman laboratories, we were among the first institutions in the world to provide LabQuest modules to all students, allowing them to use cutting-edge technology to conduct sensor-based experiments. Undergraduate students partaking in research have access to first-class instrumentation and the instruction necessary to use it.