The educational philosophy of the department allows for considerable flexibility in a student's graduate program. You may take courses in fields outside the department, such as biochemistry, pharmacology, physics, mathematics, environmental science, and other science areas in a program tailored to your interests and needs. In the chemistry department, courses are offered in inorganic chemistry, organometallic chemistry, physical inorganic chemistry, synthetic organic chemistry, physical organic chemistry, heterocyclic chemistry, advanced analytical chemistry, optical spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, electrochemistry, thermodynamics, quantum chemistry and polymer chemistry.
The chemistry department offers M.S. and Ph.D. graduate programs in analytical, inorganic, organic or physical chemistry. In recent years about eight students per year have received the Ph.D.—the size of the student body makes for close faculty-student contacts and an informal, stimulating atmosphere.
In 2017, Ariel Schuelke-Sanchez gave an oral presentation describing her research findings to an international audience at the Bioinorganic Chemistry conference in California. Under the guidance of Prof. Matt Liptak, Ariel has figured out how to coax new reactivity out of a recombinant enzyme she has expressed in Escherichia coli. This recombinant enzyme catalyzes the insertion of cobalt into a ring-shaped molecule called porphyrin. These findings have important implications for our fundamental understanding of metal trafficking in biological system.
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We evaluate applications based on transcript information, GRE (general test), statement of purpose, and recommendation letters in order to develop an understanding of an applicant's likelihood of succeeding in our program. Most successful graduate students started with a strong background in all four sub-disciplines of chemistry, and many engaged in research during their undergraduate careers. Non-traditional students, such as those who worked in the chemical industry after graduation, have also been successful.
UVM undergraduates who will be graduating and wish to enter our graduate program are not admitted to the Ph.D. program. We feel that diversity of experience is important in professional development, so we encourage our undergraduates to go on to other nationally recognized programs. However, we do admit occasional UVM undergraduates to our master’s program for two reasons: to allow undergraduate biochemistry majors to take chemistry coursework to prepare them for a Ph.D. program in chemistry and to allow students who have significant ties to the Burlington area to remain for an additional time.
- New grad students take exams in analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry.
- Exams are standardized by the American Chemical Society.
- Appropriate course work is offered to strengthen any student weakness that may appear from the exams.
- Our faculty present a series of talks which describe their research interests.
- New graduate students attend these talks and then discuss specific research interests with individual faculty members.
- Students normally make a decision regarding their research direction and specific advisor around the end of November of the first year.