Research Opportunities in Chemistry

High-quality, contemporary research programs are active in synthetic and physical organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, bioorganic and biological chemistry, biophysics, and physical and computational chemistry. Undergraduate students can choose to work in any of these areas as early as their freshman year. 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 compounds and to use these compounds in catalytic processes. Studies in mechanistic and physical organic chemistry include the investigation of organic electrode processes, which requires expertise in electroanalytical 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 the binding of proteins to RNA. Bacterial enzymes that catalyze reactions of βeta-lactam antibiotics 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 fluorescence 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 ultraviolet 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 condensed 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. 

Summer Financial Support

Ten weeks of full-time in the summer allows students to bring to fruition the work they have done part-time during the academic year. All undergraduate students are eligible for a stipend for a 10-week period during the summer proceeding the junior and senior years. The stipend includes subsidized housing benefits and is sufficient to support students in the Middletown area.  A few students also receive these stipends for the freshman sophomore summer. Many of our chemistry students receive their summer support through the Research in the Sciences Summer Program. Additional students are supported form the individual faculty research plans. Approximately, 60 students each summer will complete research in their area of interest: Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Science or Molecular Biology and Biochemistry that finishes with a poster session.