May 28, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Chemistry (CHEM)

MARIE-CHRISTINE ONUTA, Graduate Program Director

Degrees Offered

M.S., Ph.D. (Degree Types )



CULLUM, BRIAN M., Ph.D., University of South Carolina; Development of optical sensors and optical-sensing techniques for biomedical and environmental research.
GEDDES, CHRISTOPHER,** Ph.D., University of Wales;Methods and applications of fluorescence spectroscopy and imaging techniques to the life sciences; with particular emphasis on bacterial, pathogen and virus detection.
LACOURSE, WILLIAM R., Ph.D., Northeastern University; Development and application of hydrodynamically controlled electrochemical detection systems.
LIEBMAN, JOEL F., Ph.D., Princeton University; Strained organic compounds and their energetics, gaseous ions, noble gas and fluorine chemistry, mathematical and quantum chemistry.
ROSENZWEIG, ZEEV, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Synthesis of benign by design optical nanomaterials that minimally impact environmental and biological systems while retaining desirable functionalists
SELEY, KATHERINE L., Ph.D., Auburn University; Design and synthesis of nucleoside/ nucleotide and hetero-cyclic enzyme inhibitors for use as medicinal agents.
SUMMERS, MICHAEL F., Ph.D., Emory University; Howard Hughes Associate Medical Investigator; Elucidation of structural, dynamic and thermodynamic features of metallo-biomolecules using advanced multidimensional and multi-nuclear NMR methods.

Associate Professors

AN, SONGON, Ph.D., University of Minnesota - Twin Cities; Cellular biochemistry and enzymology investigating regulatory mechanisms of metabolic macromolecular complexes; transient protein-protein interactions and cellular enzyme kinetics, via fluorescence live-cell imaging and chemical biology techniques.
ARNOLD, BRADLEY R., Ph.D., University of Utah; Physical chemistry and applications of time-resolved polarized spectroscopy.
KELLY, LISA A., Ph.D., Bowling Green University; Mechanistic investigations of visible-light-induced redox reactions using laser flash photolysis techniques, with particular emphasis on developing synthetic chemical assemblies that efficiently undergo chemical redox reactions with biological substrates.
KYOUNG, MINJOUNG, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University; Sensing and mapping signaling and metabolic pathways in Cancer Cells and Neurons using biophysical and bioanalytical methods such as superresolution microscopy and sing molecule reactors
ONUTA, MARIE-CHRISTINE, Ph.D., University of Bordeaux, France 2003; virus-nanoparticle complexes, supramolecular chemistry.
PTASZEK, MARCIN, Ph.D., Jagiellonian University, Krakow (Poland); Develop of new fluorescent probes for in vivo imaging, and their applications for cancer diagnosis.
SMITH, PAUL J., Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh; Bio-organic and physical organic chemistry, biomimetic catalysis, DNA structure and DNA binding by small molecules.

Assistant Professors

BENNET, JOSEPH, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania; Atomistic simulations of materials related to human health, energy and the environment
SMITH, AARON, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison; Studies of the roles of transition metals in biology using structural, spectroscopic and biophysical techniques.
CHEN, CHENGPENG, Ph.D., Michigan State University;  Development of quantitative Organs-on-a-Chip models for physiological and pharmaceutical studies.
KOIRALA, DEEPAK, Ph.D., Kent State University; Studies of the structures and functions of RNA molecules associated with viral translation and human repeat expansion disorders.

Program Description

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UMBC offers graduate programs in the disciplines of analytical, biochemical, organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry leading to the doctoral degree in Chemistry (including Biochemistry). The diversity of faculty research represented in the program enables students to combine the study of energetics, structure, and dynamics of chemical systems with their application to problems in the biological sciences. A master’s in these same chemical disciplines is also available through the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UMBC. (See also joint programs in Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology and Marine-Estuarine Environmental Science.)

Program Admission Requirements

Most students entering the M.S. or Ph.D. programs will be expected to have majored in chemistry, or biochemistry, but applications are welcome from students who majored in other fields, provided their records indicate the ability to complete the program successfully. The desired undergraduate background includes courses in organic, analytical, and physical chemistry; physics; calculus; and some work in the biochemical sciences. Scores on the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) (verbal, quantitative and analytical tests) are required. The GRE Advanced Chemistry Test is strongly recommended.

All entering M.S. and Ph.D. students are asked to take placement examinations. Students whose background is deficient in specific areas will be required to enroll in appropriate undergraduate courses and obtain a grade of “B” or better. Students excelling on those examinations may be exempted from specific core courses.

Facilities and Special Resources

UMBC students are offered hands-on access to an extensive array of tools for modern chemical and biochemical research. The department’s specialized research instrumentation includes calorimetry, chromatography, stopped-flow and temperature-jump kinetics, transient laser spectroscopy (including nanosecond laser flash photolysis, pico-second and femto-second pump-probe and picosecond fluorescence systems), nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (including one 200-, one 300-, one cryoprobe-equipped 500-, two 600- and one 800-MHz instruments), X-band CW electron paramagnetic resonance spectrometry, circular dichroism, X-ray diffraction, infrared spectroscopy, atomic absorption and gas chromatography mass spectrometry and both a 7 and 12 Tesla Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometer apparatus, as well as extensive molecular modeling and computational chemistry facilities.

The department also hosts a Biochemistry Molecular Characterization and Analysis Complex (MCAC), which specializes in the analysis of environmental and biological molecules (e.g., biopolymers, peptides and glycoproteins). In addition to TOF/FT, a laser desorbtion mass spectrometer and both 500- and 600-MHz NMRs, this center houses one of the few tandem mass spectrometers located in academic institutions worldwide. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute suite houses a second 600- and an 800-MHz NMR instrument, both of which are used for high-dimensional studies of HIV proteins, metallo-biomolecules and macro-molecular interactions. The Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery contains more than 2,500 volumes of chemistry and biochemistry texts and subscribes to more than 150 chemistry and biochemistry periodicals.

Outplacement Success

Students completing the M.S. or Ph.D. degree programs at UMBC have continued their graduate or postdoctoral training at such competitive and prestigious institutions as Johns Hopkins Medical, MIT, Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, Brandeis and Georgetown universities and have gone on to be faculty at prestigious universities across the country. Program graduates have also gone on to be leaders in the government and industrial workforce, finding employment with local, national and international organizations such as the U.S. D.o.D., NIH, the FDA, Ciba-Geigy, DuPont-Merck, Eastman Kodak, Glaxo Smith Kline, Proctor & Gamble, the U.S. Patent Office, etc.

Financial Assistance

Support is available on a competitive basis to students accepted into the program. Qualified first-year students are usually offered teaching assistantships. Research assistantships are often available for students actively engaged in thesis research. In addition, students are encouraged to apply for nationally awarded graduate fellowships. Student loans are available through the Office of Financial Aid.

Fellowship Opportunities at the Interface of Chemistry and Biology

UMBC recently has authorized a limited number of fellowships for incoming graduate students who are interested in both the areas of chemistry and biology. These fellowships aim to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century, which will reward those who have expertise in more than one area of science. Even now, those scientists who can bridge the gap between biology and chemistry are in high demand in such areas as the pharmaceutical industry. Synthetic chemists who are knowledgeable about metabolism and biologists who understand the physical principles governing the interactions between macro-molecules are widely sought after.

Fellowship recipients will obtain their Ph.D. degree in an area of the chemical or the biological sciences, but with an additional focus in the other discipline. Each course of study will be individually tailored to take into account student’s strengths and interests, but all will include coursework at an advanced level in the biological sciences and chemistry, as well as biochemistry. In addition, students will carry out research rotations in the laboratories of faculty members from both disciplines and will attend seminars from both departments.

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has a brochure that describes its graduate programs and the research interests of its faculty. For a copy of the brochure, or for specific information on the M.S. and Ph.D. programs in chemistry, contact the department office, 866-743-8622. A frequently updated version of the brochure may be accessed via the UMBC homepage at The Graduate Student Handbook is also available from the department office.


    Master of ScienceDoctor of Philosophy