Environmental Chemistry
M.S., M.P.S. and Ph.D.

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.

Financial Support

photo of Wang Chuji and graduate student Liat Shemesh

Postdoctoral scientist Wang Chuji and graduate student Liat Shemesh align one the lasers in Dr. Dibble's laboratory.

Selected applicants to the graduate program will be offered a full tuition waiver and a generous 12 month stipend that will cover more than cover their expenses. Students are supported primarily as research assistants rather than teaching assistants, and as a result they have ample time to devote to their research.

Program of Study

Incoming graduate students in Environmental Chemistry are required to take two introductory lecture courses and one laboratory course in Environmental Chemistry. Several advanced courses are also offered, such as Environmental Organic moleculeChemistry, Oceanography, Stable Isotopes, Chromatography, and Kinetics. An introductory Biochemistry lecture course is also required. To ensure that students obtain a strong background in the fundamentals of chemistry, they make selections from among graduate courses in Analytical, Physical, Organic, and Inorganic Chemistry from the offerings of Syracuse University. Students are also encouraged to take related graduate and upper-division undergraduate courses offered in other departments at ESF and at Syracuse University.

Research is at the core of any Ph.D. program. Research is conducted in the laboratory, in the field, and on computers. For more information, visit Environmental Chemistry faculty member pages, or you can explore further via the Department of Chemistry Faculty Directory.

We strongly encourage prospective graduate students to contact the department or any professor whose research is of interest!

Current Research Interests

  • harmful algal blooms (Boyer)
  • microbial uptake of heavy metals (Boyer)
  • photochemistry in lakes and streams (Hassett) and marine waters (Kieber)
  • new techniques for field and laboratory analysis of molecules, radicals, and particles in water, air, and soil (Dibble, Hassett, Kieber, Teece)
  • insect pheremones (Webster)
  • fate of Persistant Organic Pollutants like PCBs, dioxins, and mirex (Hassett)
  • biodiesel combustion (Dibble)
  • destruction of pollutants with non-thermal plasmas (Dibble)
  • mechanisms of formation of organic aerosol (Dibble)
  • kinetics and mechanisms of smog chemistry (Dibble)
  • global carbon and sulfur cycles (Kieber)
  • coral reef ecosystems (Teece)
  • marine and lake food webs (Teece)
  • biological chemistry (Teece)
  • atmospheric mercury cycling (Mao)
  • regional budgets of ozone, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds (Mao)
  • urban air quality (Mao)

Faculty and their Specialties

Follow the links immediately below for detailed descriptions of research of any professor.

Adjunct Faculty
  • Dr. Richard Zepp, Adjunct, US Environmental Protection Agency
photo of linden leaf

Dr. Mark Teece snorkeling in the Florida Keys. Some ESF Chemistry graduate students are paid to snorkel with him!


There are three Environmental Chemistry courses required of our students, plus a Biochemistry lecture course.

  • FCH 510 Environmental Chemistry I -Aquatic Chemistry
  • FCH 511 Environmental Chemistry II -Atmospheric Chemistry
  • FCH 515 Methods of Environmental Chemical Analysis
  • FCH 530 Biochemistry I - cellular component and metabolic reactions

A range of specialty courses are taught by our faculty and are offered regularly intervals:

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Organic Chemistry
  • Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry
  • Advanced Environmental Analysis
  • Kinetics

Students may elect graduate-level courses in the traditional areas of Chemistry as well as cognate courses in other disciplines.

Request an Application to the Graduate Program

The Graduate School
1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, NY 13210
(315) 470-6595


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State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
1 Forestry Drive | Syracuse, NY 13210 | 315-470-6500
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