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Graduate Degree Programs
M.S. or Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry of Natural Products

By entering our Ph.D. or M.S. program, you will study in a department with a renowned and rich history of teaching and scientific discovery focusing on new natural substances. 

We offer a program with its core in the chemical sciences, so students learn fundamentals they can apply to current issues, and can discover and develop solutions to emerging problems.

Research in this field takes three paths:

  1. Isolation and characterization of new natural substances
  2. Synthesis of new substances or improved syntheses of better-known natural substances
  3. 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 organic compounds. Successful investigation in structure/response relationships requires the student to become familiar with statistical methods of analysis.

Students have access to state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation available through ESF’s Analytical & Technical Services, such as our 800-MHz NMR and two high-resolution Orbitrap mass spectrometers equipped with gas or liquid chromatographs.

Program of Study

Graduate students take coursework in mechanistic organic chemistry and synthetic organic chemistry. Ph.D. students additionally take one-semester courses in physical chemistry and the organic chemistry of natural products.

Courses in biochemistry, statistics, or specialized areas of biology and chemistry may be selected by the student from among the offerings at ESF, Upstate Medical University, and Syracuse University.

Faculty and their Specialties

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

  • Jose L. Giner;
    Organic and natural products chemistry, sterol synthesis, natural products
  • Nicholas C. Pflug; 
    Environmental chemistry, aquatic chemistry, organic chemistry, photochemistry, organic synthesis, natural products, chemical ecology, algal toxins, reaction mechanisms, structure elucidation

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

Financial Support

Students are typically supported on research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and fellowships.

Current Research Interests

  • Marine and freshwater algal toxins (Pflug)
  • Synthesis and biosynthesis of biologically active natural products (Giner)
  • Analysis and structure determination of steroidal compounds (Giner)
  • Isolation and identification of insect and mammalian pheromones and other semiochemicals such as alleomones and kairomones (Pflug)
  • Synthesis of new natural products (semiochemicals) with particular emphasis on stereochemistry (Pflug)

Examples of Relevant Courses

  • FCH 524: Topics in Natural Products Chemistry
  • FCH 560: Chromatography and Related Separation Sciences
  • FCH 584: Spectrometric Identification of Organic Compounds
  • FCH 630: Plant Biochemistry
  • CHE 675: Advanced Organic Chemistry
  • CHE 685: Organic Mechanisms