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MIT Course Catalog 2014-2015

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Department of Chemistry

Chemistry is the study of the nanoworld, the world of atoms and molecules spanning sizes from one to several thousand angstroms. Chemists study the architecture of this miniature universe, explore the changes that occur, discover the principles that govern these chemical changes, and devise ways to create entirely new classes of compounds and materials. Previous triumphs of chemistry include the synthesis of pharmaceuticals and agricultural products, while current challenges include chemical memory, solar cells, superconductors, clean fuels, batteries, and the solution of numerous important problems relating to health and the environment.

The Department of Chemistry offers the Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. The department's program of teaching and research spans the breadth of chemistry. General areas covered include biological chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry. Some of the activities of the department, especially those that involve "translational research" (the application of basic science to practical problems) are carried out in association with interdisciplinary laboratories and centers. These interdepartmental units include the Center for Materials Science and Engineering, Francis Bitter Magnet Laboratory, Center for Ultracold Atoms, Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, MIT Energy Initiative, Center for Environmental Health Sciences, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and Laser Biomedical Research Facility. See Interdisciplinary Research and Study in Part3 for more information.

The undergraduate program aims to provide rigorous education in the fundamental areas of chemical and biochemical knowledge and experimentation. Undergraduate students are encouraged to participate in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and to take graduate-level chemistry classes as well as subjects in other departments at the Institute, Harvard, or Wellesley.

The Department of Chemistry graduate program admits applicants for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. In addition to formal coursework, each student undertakes a research problem that forms the core of graduate work. Graduate- and postgraduate-level research is often carried out in collaboration with scientists in other facilities and interdisciplinary laboratories.

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Undergraduate Study

Bachelor of Science in Chemistry/Course 5
[see degree chart]

The Department of Chemistry offers an undergraduate program sufficiently flexible in its electives to provide excellent preparation for careers in many different areas of chemistry. Course 5 is designed to provide an education based on science, both for those who intend to go on to graduate study and those who intend to pursue a professional career immediately in either chemistry or an allied field, such as medicine, in which a sound knowledge of chemistry is important. Students receive thorough instruction in the principles of chemistry, supplemented by a strong foundation in mathematics, physics, biology, and the humanities. A Certification in Biochemistry by the American Chemical Society can be received with a bachelor's degree for students who have concentrated in this area. The Department of Chemistry also teaches courses jointly with the departments of Biology, Chemical Engineering, Biological Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering.

Unrestricted electives allow students to extend their knowledge in areas of special interest. Those intending to do graduate work may elect subjects in the department or in other departments that give them more detailed knowledge in the areas in which they plan to specialize. Students who expect to enter industry may elect subjects that offer the fundamentals in a selected field of science, engineering, or the humanities and social sciences. Programs may also be elected that lead to a double major in two fields of specialization.

The student's faculty advisor can offer suggestions for elective subjects that are of value in preparation for specialization in the various broad areas of chemistry. The proper choice of electives is particularly important for students planning to continue their education in a graduate program.

Students at all levels are encouraged to undertake original research under the supervision of a member of the chemistry faculty, and students carrying out research over at least three semesters have the option of preparing an undergraduate thesis.

Minor in Chemistry

The requirements for a Minor in Chemistry are as follows:

5.03   Principles of Inorganic Chemistry I
5.12   Organic Chemistry I
5.310   Laboratory Chemistry
5.60   Thermodynamics and Kinetics

Two additional subjects from the following:
5.04   Principles of Inorganic Chemistry II
5.07   Biological Chemistry I
5.08   Biological Chemistry II
5.13   Organic Chemistry II
5.36   Biochemistry and Organic Laboratory
5.36U*   Biochemistry and Organic Laboratory
5.37   Organic and Inorganic Laboratory
5.37U*   Organic and Inorganic Laboratory
5.43   Advanced Organic Chemistry
5.61   Physical Chemistry
5.62   Physical Chemistry
*Students may complete 12 units from any combination of the modules in 5.36U and 5.37U (counted as one subject).


The Minor in Atmospheric Chemistry, offered jointly with the Departments of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences and Civil and Environmental Engineering, blends fundamental science with engineering and policy. For a description of the minor, see Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Programs and Minors in Part 3.

For a general description of the minor program, see Undergraduate Education in Part 1.


Additional information may be obtained from the Chemistry Education Office, Room 6-205, 617-253-7271.

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Graduate Study

The Department of Chemistry offers the Doctor of Philosophy degree. The subjects offered aim to develop a sound knowledge of fundamentals and a familiarity with current progress in the most active and important areas of chemistry. In addition to studying formal subjects, each student undertakes a research problem that forms the core of graduate work. Through the experience of conducting an investigation leading to the doctoral thesis, a student learns general methods of approach and acquires training in some of the specialized techniques of research.

The areas of research in the department include organic, inorganic, physical, and biological chemistry, broadly defined. Detailed information on the research activities of the faculty can be found on the departmental website,

Chemical research frequently involves more than one of the four traditional subfields. Some research activities of the department are carried out in association with interdisciplinary laboratories and centers as described above and in the section on Interdisciplinary Research and Study in Part 3. These interdisciplinary research laboratories provide stimulating interaction among the research programs of several MIT departments and give students opportunities to become familiar with research work in disciplines other than chemistry. The department also participates in the interdisciplinary graduate Program in Polymer Science and Technology, the Biotechnology Training Program, the Microbiology Program, and the Biophysics Certificate Program.

During the first term of residence, all graduate students are encouraged to select research supervisors who serve as their advisors for the balance of their graduate careers. In particular, the overall program of graduate subjects is established by each student in consultation with the research supervisor. In planning this program and in establishing the thesis problem, careful consideration is given to the candidate's academic record and professional experience, as well as to long-range objectives.

Entrance Requirements for Graduate Study

Students intending to do graduate work in the Chemistry Department should have excellent undergraduate preparation in chemistry. The department is flexible with respect to specific course preparation; the essential requirement is demonstration of ability to progress with advanced study and research in some area of special interest. However, mathematics and physics are important prerequisites for graduate work in physical chemistry or chemical physics, whereas less preparation in these areas is required for work in organic chemistry.

Applicants to the Chemistry Department are required to submit scores from the verbal and quantitative sections of the Graduate Record Examination. Scores on the advanced examinations are optional.

Doctor of Philosophy

The Chemistry Department does not have any formal subject requirements for the doctoral degree. Each student, with the advice of a research supervisor, pursues an individual program of study that is pertinent to the student's long-range research interests. All students are required to serve as a teaching assistant for two terms, usually during the first year.

Written qualifying examinations are cumulative. Separate examinations in biological, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry are offered each month from October through May. The examinations demonstrate an understanding of the important principles of each field. Six cumulative examinations must be passed to complete the written major examination. No fixed time limit is set for completion of this requirement; however, progress is reviewed periodically and the department expects a demonstrated passing performance in cumulative exams before a student takes their second-year oral exam. It is normal to have passed at least four cumulative exams by that time. No other written general examinations are required. In particular, no entrance examinations are given.

A comprehensive oral examination in the candidate's major field of advanced study is held generally in the fourth term of residence. Progress in the student's research is also examined at that time. A final oral presentation on the subject of the doctoral research is scheduled after the thesis has been submitted and evaluated by a committee of examiners.

Teaching and Research Assistantships

The department usually appoints first-year graduate students as teaching assistants (TAs). TAs are assigned either to laboratory subjects or to discussion sections of lecture subjects. Most students receive appointments to research assistantships after their first year, and departmental fellowships are also available. Financial support after the first academic year is subject to the availability of funds and provided for students who maintain a satisfactory record.


Correspondence about the graduate program or appointments should be addressed to the Chemistry Education Office, Room 6-205, 617-253-1851.

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Faculty and Staff

Faculty and Teaching Staff

Sylvia Teresse Ceyer, PhD
John C. Sheehan Professor of Chemistry
Department Head


Moungi G. Bawendi, PhD
Lester Wolfe Professor of Chemistry

Stephen Leffler Buchwald, PhD
Camille Dreyfus Professor of Chemistry

Jianshu Cao, PhD
Professor of Chemistry

Arup K. Chakraborty, PhD
Robert T. Haslam (1911) Professor of Chemical Engineering
Professor of Chemistry, Biological Engineering, and Physics
Director, Institute of Medical Engineering and Science

Christopher C. Cummins, PhD
Professor of Chemistry

Rick Lane Danheiser, PhD
Arthur C. Cope Professor of Chemistry

Catherine L. Drennan, PhD
Professor of Chemistry and Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor

John Martin Essigmann, PhD
William and Betsy Leitch Professor in Residence
Professor of Chemistry, Toxicology, and Biological Engineering
Director, Center for Environmental Health Sciences

Robert Warren Field, PhD
Robert T. Haslam and Bradley Dewey Professor of Chemistry

Robert G. Griffin, PhD
Professor of Chemistry

Mei Hong, PhD
Professor of Chemistry

Barbara Imperiali, PhD
Class of 1922 Professor of Biology and Chemistry
Associate Member, Broad Institute

Timothy F. Jamison, PhD
Professor of Chemistry

Alexander M. Klibanov, PhD
Novartis Professor of Chemistry and Bioengineering

Stephen J. Lippard, PhD
Arthur Amos Noyes Professor of Chemistry

Mohammad Movassaghi, PhD
Professor of Chemistry

Keith Adam Nelson, PhD
Professor of Chemistry

Richard Royce Schrock, PhD
Frederick G. Keyes Professor of Chemistry

Susan Solomon, PhD
Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Change

JoAnne Stubbe, PhD
Novartis Professor of Chemistry
Professor of Biology

Timothy M. Swager, PhD
John D. MacArthur Professor of Chemistry
Faculty Director, Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation

Steven R. Tannenbaum, ScD
Underwood-Prescott Professor of Biological Engineering, Chemistry, and Toxicology

Alice Y. Ting, PhD
Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Chemistry
Associate Member, Broad Institute

Troy Van Voorhis, PhD
Professor of Chemistry

Associate Professor

Elizabeth Nolan, PhD
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Associate Member, Broad Institute

Assistant Professors

Mircea Dinca, PhD
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Jeremiah A. Johnson, PhD
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Brad L. Pentelute, PhD
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Associate Member, Broad Institute

Gabriela Schlau-Cohen, PhD
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Matthew D. Shoulders, PhD
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Yogesh Surendranath, PhD
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Jeffrey Van Humbeck, PhD
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Adam P. Willard, PhD
Assistant Professor of Chemistry


Elizabeth Vogel, PhD

Technical Instructors

John J. Dolhun, PhD
Anique Olivier-Mason, PhD
Mariusz Twardowski, PhD

Research Staff

Sponsored Research Technical Staff

Catherine Amaya, BS
Technical Assistant

Ramachandra Dasari, PhD
Principal Research Scientist

Luis H. Galindo
Sponsored Research Technical Staff

Jeon Woong Kang, PhD
Research Scientist

Li Li, BS
Research Specialist

Gang Liu, PhD
Research Specialist

Alexei Maznev, PhD
Research Scientist

Peter Mueller, PhD
Principal Research Scientist

Christine Nguyen, PhD
Research Scientist

Brian Pretti
Technical Assistant

Anne Rachupka, BS, MS
Operations Manager

Randy Scanga, BS
Technical Associate

Jeffrey Simpson, PhD
Director, Instrumentation Facility

Joseph Walish, PhD
Research Scientist

Zahid Yaqoob, PhD
Research Scientist

Professors Emeriti

Klaus Biemann, PhD
Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus

Alan Davison, PhD
Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus

John Mark Deutch, PhD, ScD
Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus
Institute Professor, Emeritus

Carl Wesley Garland, PhD
Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus

Frederick Davis Greene II, PhD, ScD
Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus

Daniel Schaeffer Kemp, PhD
Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus

Irwin Oppenheim, PhD
Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus

Dietmar Seyferth, PhD
Robert T. Haslam and Bradley Dewey Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus

Jeffrey Irwin Steinfeld, PhD
Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus

John Stewart Waugh, PhD
Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus
Institute Professor, Emeritus

Gerald Norman Wogan, PhD
Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus


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