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Graduate Degree Programs
M.S., M.P.S. or Ph.D. in Environmental Chemistry

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 nine core faculty and two 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, sustainability, environmental health and basic areas of chemistry. Coursework is also available in ecology, biology, geology, math 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 are discovered.

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 Chemistry, 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.

Faculty and their Specialties

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

  • Neal M. Abrams;
    Inorganic chemistry, material science, renewable energy
  • Jiajue Chai; 
    Atmospheric chemistry, reactive nitrogen, air quality, climate change, human and ecosystem health
  • Theodore S. Dibble;
    Redox chemistry of mercury in the environment and in power plants. Chemistry of air pollution, electron beams and combustion.
  • Mark S. Driscoll;
    Environmental chemistry and radiation for environmentally friendly industrial processes
  • Gyu Leem;
    Environmental and polymer chemistry, synthetic organic chemistry, materials science, surface chemistry, light harvesting polymers, photocatalytic and/or magnetic composite materials, solar energy conversion, water remediation
  • Huiting Mao;
    environmental chemistry, atmospheric chemistry, air quality, regional to global budgets of trace gases, long range transport, continental export, climate change
  • Jaime Mirowsky;
    environmental health, exposure assessment, air pollution, cardiopulmonary health, in vitro models, environmental noise, epidemiology, public health
  • Nicholas C. Pflug, 
    Environmental Chemistry, Aquatic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Photochemistry, Natural Products, Reaction Mechanisms, Structure Elucidation
  • Leanne C. Powers, 
    Environmental Photochemistry, Marine Chemistry, Reactive Oxygen Species, Aquatic Biogeochemistry, Ocean Optics
  • Mark A. Teece;
    environmental chemistry, food web biochemistry, stable isotope biogeochemistry, coral, stable isotopes, metabolomics, biogeochemistry
Adjunct Faculty
Emeritus Faculty
  • Gregory L. Boyer;
    biochemistry and environmental chemistry, plant and algal biochemistry, chemical ecology and toxins produced by algae. environmental monitoring, including Buoy and ship-based monitoring systems for water quality
  • John P. Hassett;
    Environmental chemistry, aquatic chemistry
  • David J. Kieber;
    Environmental chemistry, aquatic organic chemistry, aquatic photochemistry, chemical oceanography, atmospheric chemistry, marine microbial ecology, polar research


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

  • FCH 510 Environmental Chemistry I -Aquatic Chemistry
  • FCH 511 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:

  • FCH 525 Oceanography
  • FCH 560 Chromatography and Related Separation Sciences
  • FCH 610 Air Quality
  • FCH 620 Chemical Kinetics

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

Financial Support

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

Current Research Interests

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