* Special Course Codes
(Code indicates course meets certain program or accreditation requirements. Ignore if there is no relevance to this program of study.)
G = General Education course (GenEd)
E = Engineering
ES = Engineering Sciences
M = Mathematics
NS = Natural Sciences
PE = Professional Education
S = Summer-only course
Department of Chemistry
Web Catalog Information Subject to Change
The web version of the ESF Catalog is updated as needed throughout the year. To view the version officially associated with a particular date of entry to the College, please refer to the appropriate catalog of record.
Department of Chemistry
IVAN GITSOV, Chair
217 Jahn Laboratory, (315) 470-6851
The Department of Chemistry at SUNY-ESF is unique in that it is organized around the interdisciplinary areas of biochemistry and natural products chemistry, environmental chemistry and polymer chemistry. It stresses a strong foundation in the traditional areas of chemistry (analytical, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry) plus integration of these areas into its specialties. Thus, students at all levels enjoy the advantages of a chemistry program with specialties aligned with the needs of the 21st century.
The department is committed to maintaining its leading role in extending the state of knowledge in its specialties. The department’s home is the 71,000-square-foot Edwin C. Jahn Laboratory. This state-of-the-art facility for research and teaching is well equipped with instruments needed for modern chemical research. The department involves all of its students in research, giving them familiarity with the actual practice of chemistry.
In pursuing a bachelor of science in chemistry, students first receive a strong foundation in analytical, physical, organic and inorganic chemistry before selecting one of three options leading to the degree: biochemistry and natural products, environmental chemistry, and natural and synthetic polymer chemistry. Each option offers an advanced course of studies beyond the basic courses of the classical undergraduate chemistry curriculum. All options are excellent grounding for professional work at the B.S. level or for advanced graduate study.
This option stresses a chemical approach to problems in the life and health sciences. Students take advanced courses in natural products chemistry, chemical analysis, and biochemistry. Professional electives in botany, chemical ecology, genetics and molecular biology strengthen connections in the life and health sciences.
Research areas include the elucidation of chemical signals by which organisms communicate with each other, the role of trace metals in the growth of microorganisms, the origin and function of biologically active natural compounds, and synthetic biology and metabolic engineering for the production of value-added products and antimicrobial compounds.
Students in the undergraduate program in the Environmental Chemistry option take all the core chemistry courses as outlined on the chemistry curriculum. In their senior year, they take two lecture courses and one laboratory course in Environmental Chemistry:
- FCH 510 Environmental Chemistry I - Aquatic Chemistry
- FCH 511 Environmental Chemistry II - Atmospheric Chemistry
- FCH 515 Methods of Environmental Chemical Analysis
The senior year culminates in a senior research project undertaken under the supervision of one of the chemistry faculty. This give students the opportunity to experience research ranging from laboratory work to field-intensive studies.
Students take advanced courses in mechanisms of polymerization and polymer synthesis, physical properties and characterization of polymers, and laboratory techniques of polymer synthesis and characterization. Special topics courses in contemporary polymer and material science are available as electives. In addition, courses in carbohydrate chemistry provide a solid background for chemists planning careers in paper, plastic, high-tech, energy, membranes, and related areas. Biochemistry is an appropriate elective for students interested in the growth of biotechnologies while environmental chemistry complements this program for students interested in working on problems of biodegradation.
Lower Division Required Courses
|APM 205||Calculus I for Science and Engineering||G||4|
|APM 206||Calculus for Science and Engineering II||G||4|
|EFB 101||General Biology I: Organismal Biology and Ecology||G||3|
|EFB 102||General Biology I Laboratory||G||1|
|EFB 103||General Biology II: Cell Biology and Genetics||G||3|
|EFB 104||General Biology II Laboratory||G||1|
|EWP 190||Writing and the Environment||G||3|
|EWP 290||Research Writing and Humanities||G||3|
|FCH 132||Orientation Seminar: Chemistry||1|
|FCH 150||General Chemistry I||G||3|
|FCH 151||General Chemistry Laboratory I||G||1|
|FCH 152||General Chemistry II||G||3|
|FCH 153||General Chemistry Laboratory II||G||1|
|FCH 221||Organic Chemistry I||3|
|FCH 222||Organic Chemistry Laboratory I||1|
|FCH 223||Organic Chemistry II||3|
|FCH 224||Organic Chemistry Laboratory II||1|
|FCH 232||Career Skills for Chemists||1|
|PHY 211||General Physics I||G||3|
|PHY 212||General Physics II||3|
|PHY 221||General Physics I Laboratory||1|
|PHY 222||General Physics II Laboratory||1|
Lower Division Electives
|Math Elective (Calculus III [APM307] or Statistics [APM391])||3|
|Computing Elective (Typically, APM 255)||3|
|General Education Courses||G||9|
Upper Division Required Courses
|ESF 200||Information Literacy||1|
|EWP 405||Writing for Science Professionals||3|
|FCH 325||Organic Chemistry III||4|
|FCH 360||Physical Chemistry I||3|
|FCH 361||Physical Chemistry II||3|
|FCH 380||Analytical Chemistry I: Gravimetric, Titrimetric and Potentiometric Analysis||3|
|FCH 381||Analytical Chemistry II: Spectroscopic, Chromatographic and Electroanalytical Instrumental Technique||3|
|FCH 384||Spectrometric Identification of Organic Compounds||2|
|FCH 410||Inorganic Chemistry||3|
|FCH 495||Introduction to Professional Chemistry||1|
|FCH 497||Undergraduate Seminar||1|
|FCH 498||Introduction to Research||5|
Upper Division Electives
Students should complete a three-semester set of professional electives chosen from a list of courses available in the Department of Chemistry office. The courses provide a wide range of study including biology, chemistry, ecology, forestry, environmental law, mathematics, geology, physics, biophysics, and various engineering disciplines.
Biochemistry and Natural Products Option
|FCH 530||Biochemistry I||3|
|FCH 531||Biochemistry Laboratory||3|
|FCH 532||Biochemistry II||3|
Environmental Chemistry Option
|FCH 510||Environmental Chemistry I||3|
|FCH 511||Atmospheric Chemistry||3|
|FCH 515||Methods of Environmental Chemical Analysis||3|
Natural and Synthetic Polymer Chemistry Option
|FCH 550||Polymer Science: Synthesis and Mechanisms||3|
|FCH 551||Polymer Techniques||3|
|FCH 552||Polymer Science: Properties and Technology||3|
Total Minimum Credits For Degree: 121
The Department of Chemistry at ESF is unique in that it is structured around four areas of application:
Faculty members in the department are internationally recognized experts and are well funded by federal agencies (NSF, DOE, NASA, etc.), industry, government, and NGOs. Graduate students commonly receive national fellowships. The environment for graduate students is challenging but supportive, as faculty are invested in student success.
Graduate degrees require an appropriate program of courses at ESF and Syracuse University. Master of Science and doctoral students must complete a minimum of 18 credit hours and 30 credit hours of graduate level coursework, respectively. In addition, doctoral students must pass a doctoral candidacy examination.
Current research projects encompass natural and synthetic polymer chemistry, biochemistry and microbiology; organic chemistry of natural products and chemical ecology; environmental chemistry of air and water; climate change.
The Masters in Professional Studies is designed as a broad coursework-based program intended for students who need additional courses in Chemistry, but who are not planning on pursuing a research career in the field. M.P.S. students must take at least one course in three out of the four subject areas of the department: Biochemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Natural Products/Organic Chemistry and Polymer Chemistry. The curriculum is sufficiently flexible to allow a student interested in specializing in one of these areas to take the core sequence in that area, although this is not strictly required. Students who have taken any of these courses as undergraduates may not repeat them for graduate credit.
All students entering graduate programs at ESF are expected to be proficient in communication skills, including technical writing and library skills. This applies to M.P.S. students also and they are required to have completed at least one course in technical writing and one course in library usage, either as an undergraduate or as a graduate student. Alternatively, graduate students can meet the requirement by demonstrating the equivalent in experience in writing and library skills, as determined by the steering committee.
In addition to the formal coursework, the M.P.S. program also requires an integrative experience that allows one to synthesize one's knowledge. This can be a detailed analysis of one particular area of chemistry, an independent study, internship with industry, or work in a research laboratory. The integrative experience should be approved by the student’s steering committee prior to starting and the student will be expected to present a written final report on the integrative experience.
M.P.S. Program Requirements
The Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.) degree requires a total of 33 credits (minimum) in the following configuration:
Chemistry, including at least 9 credits distributed among 3 of the areas of Biochemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Natural Products Chemistry or Polymer Chemistry.
Other sciences, engineering and mathematics
Integrative experience (internship or independent study)
Elective coursework, seminars, internships or research experience
- 15 credits of advanced chemistry courses, including three credits of coursework in three of the focal areas of study. Additional graduate chemistry courses are available at ESF and Syracuse University.
- 6 credits of graduate coursework in Science, Mathematics or Engineering. These may include graduate courses offered at ESF or Syracuse University in physical or biological sciences, mathematics (including statistical analysis), or any area of engineering. Courses must be approved by the student's steering committee.
- 3 credits of seminar: Either of following, one-credit courses may be repeated, or students may choose seminars offered in other departments with approval of the advisor.
- FCH 997 Seminar (all students)
- FCH 797 Graduate Seminar
- 3 credits for an integrative experience in FCH 796 Special Topics in Chemistry or FCH 798 Research in Chemistry.
- 6 credits of additional graduate coursework: These remaining six credits may be drawn from additional graduate level coursework, seminars, internships and research experience as approved by the student’s steering committee.
The Biochemistry, Environmental Chemistry, and Polymer Chemistry options each have a core sequence of courses that are required for all graduate students in that option. All graduate students must present a department seminar (FCH 997) plus a capstone seminar; the capstone seminar is usually given on the day of the thesis or dissertation defense.
Steering committee and program of study: By the end of their first year of study, all graduate students must formally identify the two faculty who, in addition to their major professor, will provide guidance for their graduate school career. These two faculty and the major professor constitute the steering committee. These faculty must approve the student's program of study: the list of courses the student will take for their degree. This approval must also occur by the end of the first year. Forms are available online at students' MyESF page.
- Complete Description of Degree Requirements for Chemistry M.S., M.P.S. and Ph.D. (PDF)
M.S. Program Requirements
M.S. students are required to take at least 18 credits of coursework or non-thesis research; some options require additional credits. While a certain number of research credits are required, successful completion of an M.S. thesis project is determined by effort and effectiveness, not by credits.
Ph.D. Program Requirements
Ph.D. students are required to take at least 30 credits of coursework or non-dissertation research; some options require additional credits. While a certain number of research credits are required, successful completion of a Ph.D. dissertation project is determined by effort and effectiveness, not by credits.
The candidacy exam at ESF has three formats, but Chemistry usually uses format 2 (research report) or format 3 (the thesis proposal). After authoring the document, students defend it orally in front of their steering committee and one or two examiners.
There are six graduate areas of study in Chemistry:
Graduate studies in biochemistry reflect the College’s interests in microbial, insect, bio-based fuel, and plant biochemistry. After completing a one-year sequence in general biochemistry, students select advanced courses from a range of offerings in chemistry, organismal biology and molecular biology. Advanced courses in biochemistry are available both at ESF and Syracuse University.
The ESF program offering M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry with an emphasis in environmental chemistry is one of the few doctoral programs of its type within a chemistry department in the United States. The six core faculty and five participating faculty make it one of the largest such programs in the world.
Students take three core courses in environmental chemistry and one course in biochemistry. Subsequent coursework is carefully selected from regularly offered courses on oceanography, biogeochemistry, analytical methods, and basic areas of chemistry. Coursework is also available in ecology, biology, geology, and engineering.
Research in environmental chemistry spans a wide range, from fieldwork to laboratory work to computer modeling. Areas of research include global climate change, coral reef ecosystems, biogeochemistry, atmospheric chemistry, regional and global air quality, and transient and persistent organic pollutants. The program avoids a "pollutant of the week" approach that would leave graduates unprepared for future developments. Instead, it emphasizes a framework wherein students can incorporate new knowledge as it becomes available and deal with new problems as they appear.
Graduate students in organic chemistry of natural products take a one-year course sequence in mechanistic organic chemistry and another in synthetic organic chemistry. Additionally, one-semester courses are required in advanced physical chemistry and the organic chemistry of natural products. Courses in biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, statistics and specialized courses in chemistry or biology may be arranged and selected by the student in consultation with faculty.
Research in the field of organic chemistry of natural products takes three paths. These paths are the isolation and characterization of new natural substances; the synthesis of new or improved syntheses of better-known natural substances; and the study of the relation of molecular structure to biological response. Chemical research in each of these areas is coupled with biological testing. Research involving isolation and synthetic chemistry requires the student to develop expertise in separation techniques, such as the several methods of chromatography and spectrometric identification of molecules. Successful investigation in structure/activity relationships requires the student to become familiar with statistical methods of analysis.
Graduate students in polymer chemistry select their courses from a range of offerings in chemistry, chemical engineering, mathematics, physics, and other appropriate areas. These courses will include the one-year sequence in the physical and organic chemistry of polymers and such additional courses as the student and advisor consider necessary. Special topics in a spectrum of polymer fields are offered or can be arranged in consultation with the faculty.
Research is an essential component of any graduate degree program in polymer chemistry.
The area of study in chemical ecology is offered through collaboration between the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology and the Department of Chemistry. Interested students should apply to the department of major interest, which will have prime responsibility for setting requirements. Faculty from both areas contribute to the development of a plan of study enabling a student to acquire sophisticated skills in either chemistry or biology and an ample understanding of the other field to grapple with problems requiring an understanding of both.
As a relatively new interdisciplinary endeavor, workers in this field attempt to understand organismal interactions, both intra- and interspecific, mediated by chemical substances such as hormones, pheromones, kairomones and phytoalexins. These interactions occur at all taxonomic levels: between uni- and multicellular organisms, microbes and plants, plants and plants, plants and animals, microbes and animals and various species of animals. Study of such interactions has accelerated in recent years through joint efforts of biologists and chemists in basic and applied research in the laboratory and field.
General requirements for Chemistry M.S. and Ph.D. students in this program are found on the Department of Chemistry Requirements for M.S. and Ph.D. Degrees page.
Structural Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics (SB3) is a joint program between Syracuse University, SUNY Upstate Medical University and SUNY-ESF. The SB3 doctoral degree program was created in response to the growing need for researchers in structural biology caused by the completion of the Human Genome Project. Determining the structure, function and relationships of thousands of newly discovered biomolecules will be among the most important scientific accomplishments of the 21st century. See http://sb3.syr.edu/ for full details of this multi-university program.
* Special Course Codes (Code indicates course meets certain program or accreditation requirements. Ignore if there is no relevance to this program of study.) G = General Education Course (GenEd), E = Engineering, ES = Engineering Sciences, M = Mathematic, NS = Natural Sciences, PE = Professional Education, S = Summer-only