Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Find Your Element
On the path of scientific discovery, the 118 individual elements of the periodic table help us to chart our navigation; guiding us through our understanding of the world around us and what is possible.
Nitrogen was the center of Carl Bosch and Fritz Haber’s research. Together they developed a new process for fixing the element into fertilizer, which lead to an unprecedented boom in food production and thus the global population.
Marie Curie gave her life by discovering polonium and radium. Through her tireless work and observations, she helped conceive the principles of radioactivity and proved that the atom could be divided.
These discoveries only represent a tiny fraction of chemistry’s past, yet the table still serves as the beacon for chemistry’s future. With it, new science will emerge, like clean renewable energy and life-saving vaccines and antibiotics.
The College of Science chemistry program, through rigorous real-world preparation, research, and nurturing, will help you find your element to chart your own path.
Offers students who wish to work in the geosciences or environmental science and engineering fields, including on the land, in freshwater, or the oceans, an opportunity to understand the geochemical principles that shape the natural and managed environment. Seeks to provide a context for understanding the natural elemental cycles and environmental problems through studies in atmospheric, terrestrial, freshwater, and marine geochemistry.
Traces the development of chemical thermodynamics through the three major laws of thermodymamics. These are applied to thermochemistry, chemical reaction and phase equilibria, and the physical behavior of multicomponent systems. Emphasizes quantitative interpretation of physical measurements.
Introduces students to the field of forensic science from both a scientific and a legal perspective. Examines the challenges and methodologies of crime scene investigation, forensic biology, and forensic chemistry. Provides real-world case studies and examines some misrepresentations of forensics by television dramas. Emphasizes scientific evidence associated with topics such as DNA analysis, drug abuse, and explosion investigations, as well as other relevant topics
Keeping it Green
The Northeastern Chemistry department is dedicated to the Green Chemistry Commitment and infuses every aspect of the curriculum with the best sustainability and environmental practices. Find out how these principles enhance and shape students into more responsible scientists below.
PreMed & PreHealth
Our PreMed and PreHealth Advising program offers personalized expertise to COS students pursuing careers in health careers. This comprehensive program includes application guidance, workshops and presentations, course mapping and more.
The Properties of Co-Op
Chemistry students will emerge from college into a competitive space. When it comes to landing a highly esteemed role at biopharmaceutical company or major academic medical center, real-world experience will be all the difference.
Northeastern’s signature co-operative experience provides you with the unique opportunity to work in a variety of research settings, giving you the confidence and first-hand knowledge to graduate ready for the next challenge.Learn More About Co-Op
What motivated you to pursue a PlusOne master’s degree?
I decided to pursue the PlusOne program before I started college. It was one of the reasons I chose Northeastern, besides co-op. I knew before I began college that I wanted to work in a forensic science lab, analyzing either drug substance or toxicology samples. I learned that in order to work in a forensics lab, I would need a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s degree was recommended. So I looked for schools that had options beyond a bachelor’s degree. Another thing that motivated me to pursue the PlusOne program is that it overlaps with the undergrad degree, reducing the amount of time overall. I still spent the same amount of time on each degree as normal bachelors and masters degrees (4 and 2 years), but I was able to complete both my degrees in 5 years.
Can you tell me about your overall experience as a participant in the PlusOne program?
My time in the PlusOne program has been well spent. The biggest benefit to me is the shortened timeline. Another benefit was learning at the undergrad and grad level at the same time. I actually learned about the applications of something in one of my graduate classes that was then taught in an undergraduate class in more detail. By learning similar things at both levels, I was able to make more connections between the basics of the material and the applications that I would not have otherwise been able to make.
How did PlusOne and COS help shape your interests and/or prepare you for your future?
The PlusOne program and COS have prepared me for my future by helping me figure out what I would like to do, and what I would not like to do, by exposing me to a variety of classes and research. The classes gave me new ideas about chemistry, and things I might like, but the research aspect has really helped me define what I like/don’t like, and helped me to discover what I want from a career in the sciences.
What do you plan on doing post-graduation?
Post graduation I plan to work in a forensic science lab, analyzing drug substances or toxicology samples in either a state or private lab.
Congratulations, Jacqueline, from everyone at the College of Science and good luck in your future endeavors! We hope to see you around campus again soon!
Alfred Viola, who founded Northeastern’s chemistry PhD program and taught at the University for 41 years, passed away on May 15th. He was 91.
Dr. Viola was born in 1928 into a Jewish family in Vienna and fled the Nazi regime at the age of nine on the Kindertransport, a British program created to evacuate Jewish children. When he reunited with his family, they moved to Baltimore, MD. He received both his bachelors and masters from Johns Hopkins University and his PhD in organic chemistry at the University of Maryland in 1955.
He joined the Northeastern faculty in 1957 as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and was granted tenure in 1960. Asked to launch the department’s PhD program, he recalled it was “a big responsibility at age 29.” He met his wife, Joy, at Northeastern and the two were married in 1963. In 1985, he was invited to teach pharmacy students. He remained at Northeastern teaching undergraduate and graduate level courses for nearly 41 years, retiring as Professor Emeritus in 1997.
”I remember him as a friendly knowledgeable teacher, with a subtle sense of humor,” said Tom Rosato, undergraduate class of 1963. Nick Fillipp, graduate student from the 1970s shared, “ I have used what I learned from him throughout my entire career. Equally important as his technical leadership, [Dr. Viola] also served as a role model for a well rounded individual. His passion for photography, birding, and exotic travel inspired all of us to pursue our own outside interests and enjoy a balanced life.”
Philip LeQuesne, former colleague, remembers spending “many lunch hours with Al and his research students, as we ate our sandwiches sitting at a table in his laboratory.” He completely invested himself into each of his students, instilling sound scientific reasoning, the highest standards of excellence, and scientific integrity. Karl Weiss, former colleague, added that Al was the only professor he knew who could flunk a student and have them say ‘thank you.’ His investment in his students is reflected in the over 20 bachelors, masters and PhD theses he supervised. In 1991, he was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award.
Dr. Viola had over 40 academic publications and gave over 41 invited lectures. He investigated the mechanisms of thermal reactions and focused on a better understanding of how such reactions take place and how molecular structure influences their outcome. A number of new reaction pathways were discovered during the course of his research with students and he published a comprehensive review in the prestigious international chemistry journal Tetrahedron in 1981.
After his retirement in 1998, Dr. Viola and his wife established the Joy and Alfred Viola Undergraduate Award Fund, supported in perpetuity through their wills, which aids six students each year in Chemistry and Pharmacy.
Dr. Viola was a 50-year member of the American Chemical Society and recipient of the Henry Hill Award presented by the Northeast Section, in recognition of his many years chairing the Continuing Education Committee and serving on the ACS Board of Directors.
Mary Jo Ondrechen, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology, wants to identify all of the amino acids responsible for the abilities of the coronavirus to infect and thrive at the expense of human cells. Together with Penny Beuning, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology, Ondrechen recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation to use machine learning algorithms and experimental lab work to do just that.
Research led by Ondrechen and Beuning could help researchers gain a better understanding of the biochemistry of SARS-CoV-2, and serve as the basis for developing new drugs to inhibit its infectious abilities.
“Removing that notion, and helping students see their own ability, helping them enjoy a sense of achievement—that’s what drives the amount of effort I put into mentoring my students” says Oyinda Oyelaran. No wonder Oyelaran was selected as one of two faculty members to receive Northeastern University’s Excellence in Teaching Award!