Chemistry Research at Wesleyan

High-quality contemporary research is the focus of the Wesleyan graduate program in chemistry.  To facilitate the selection of a faculty research advisor at the end of the first semester, each student engages in the research activities of three faculty members in one-month rotations.  The student then selects a research advisor, becomes part of a research group, and decides on a thesis topic.

Research in synthetic organic and inorganic chemistry is focused on the discovery of new synthetic reactions and the use of mechanistic and physical organic chemistry to understand the fundamental basis of these reactions.  The inorganic chemistry of transition organometallic complexes is being studied in order to develop new synthetic methods for organometallic and to use these and physical organic chemistry as well as in classical organic methodology for the elucidation of stereochemistry and other mechanistic details.

The fundamental chemistry of biological processes has an active interdisciplinary following.  Bioorganic approaches are being used to address the question of sequence and structure specificity in binding of proteins to RNA.  Bacterial enzymes that catalyze reactions of beta-lactam antibiotics, the penicillins and cephalosporins are being investigated in order to understand their mode of action and to pave the way for future drug development.  Bioinorganic studies center on paramagnetic transition metal complexes and their use as contrast agents in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).  Investigators in the molecular biophysics program employ nuclear magnetic resonance and fluoresences spectroscopies as well as theoretical and computational approaches to examine the structure, dynamics, and interactions of nucleic acids and proteins.

Physical chemistry at Wesleyan is concerned with problems in molecular structure, dynamics and energetics.  Quantum and statistical mechanics calculations; laser techniques; microwave, infrared, visible, and ulraviolet spectroscopy; nuclear magnetic resonance and electron spin resonance; and molecular beam and mass spectrometric methods are incorporated into the research programs.  Among the main areas of interest are studies of condenses phases, energy transfer, collision induced spectra, the nature of long range interactions, radiationless relaxation, the properties of molecular complexes, the nature of electron lone-pairs, and the development of new quantum chemical methods.

Major research instrumentation includes four high resolution Varian nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers (Inova 500, Unity Plus 400, VXR 400, and Mercury 300), a Bruker ESP300 electron paramagnetic resonance spectrometer, two Perkin-Elmer spectrofluorometers, several gas chromatographs/mass spectrometers, two Fourier transform far-infrared spectrometers, a Jaso circular dichroism spectrometer, a TI spectrofluorometer with stop-flow capabilities, a Storm imaging system, several UV-VIS spectrometers, a pulse-amplified picosecond dye laser sysem, low-temperature (1.5 K) equipment, and a stop-flow reaction system.  A departmental computer network is dedicated to use by graduate and undergraduate students.  This consists of Unix workstations and Linux clusters, and complements the Windows and Apple computers available in computer labs provided by the university.  Large-scale parallel computing is also available at Wesleyan.

Faculty Research
Graduate Program Details