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Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Making Gas-Powered Cars Obsolete
Synthetic Squid Can Save You From a Sunburn
Revealing Every Enzyme Ever

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. 

Degree Options

Watch Our Video to Learn More About the COS Chemistry Program

Watch Our Video to Learn More About the COS Chemistry Program

Coursework and Requirements
A sampling of the types of courses you could take here.
Environmental Geochemistry
CHEM 3410

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.

Chemical Thermodynamics and Kinetics
CHEM 3401

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.

Introduction to Forensic Science
CHEM 1107

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

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

Faculty Research

Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Ondrechen Research Group
Prof. Ondrechen’s research group spans the areas of theoretical and computational chemistry, computational biology, bioinformatics, protein design, and drug discovery. Areas of interest include functional genomics – predicting the biochemical functional roles of gene products (proteins), protei..
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Lee-Parsons Research Laboratory Website
This research group is applying metabolic engineering principles and methodologies to improve the production of important compounds, i.e. critical plant-derived pharmaceuticals or biofuels, from plant cell & tissue cultures and microalgae cultures.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
O'Doherty Group
This research group has been working in two related areas of organic synthesis: carbohydrate synthesis and natural product synthesis.  The unifying theme that connects the research in these two areas is the method of synthesis (asymmetric catalysis) and target selection (anti-cancer, anti-viral an..
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Laboratory for Neglected Disease Drug Discovery
This research program focuses on those areas of research that will impact on treatment of human disease and on areas that will expedite the drug discovery process.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Beuning Lab
The Beuning laboratory at Northeastern is focused on understanding the structure-function-dynamics relationships of proteins and enzymes, with a particular focus on proteins involved in DNA metabolism and DNA damage tolerance.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Biomaterials Design Group
The Biomaterials Design Group at Northeastern University works at the interface of bio-analytical chemistry, materials science, and design. We investigate fundamental mechanisms behind systems in biology and use our understanding to better inform the design new classes of protein-based biomaterials..
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Engen Lab
The Engen Lab uses hydrogen exchange and mass spectrometry (HX MS) as our core technology to probe protein conformation, conformational changes, dynamics, protein folding and the effects of binding.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Zhang Group
The Zhang group develops macromolecular systems to provide answers to important questions in biology and medicine.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
SunnyLand applies protein chemistry, analysis and engineering to biology and medicine.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Manetsch Lab
The Manetsch laboratory addresses various aspects of medicinal chemistry related to optimization of anti-malarial, anti-leishmanial, and anti-bacterial agents., as well as developing and applying LC/MS-based approaches facilitating synthetic and medicinal chemistry.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Theoretical Photochemistry
The Lopez group uses quantum mechanical and machine learning techniques to identify next-generation organic materials for applications in renewable energy and photomedicine. 
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Research Alliance in Science and Engineering (RAISE)
Through integrative education and collaboration between undergraduate chemistry students and faculty mentors, RAISE continues the teaching curriculum beyond the classroom and into the real world.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Budil Lab
Prof. Budil’s group is interested in the physical behavior of macromolecules, including both synthetic polymers and biopolymers such as large proteins. Their principal investigative tool is electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy, including very high-frequency ESR.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Makowski Lab
Image and signal processing as applied to biophysical data designed to answer fundamental questions about the molecular basis of living systems
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Stubbins Lab
Aron Stubbin's research fouses on environmental chemistry, geochemistry, the carbon cycle, freshwater, coastal and ocean biogeochemistry, feedbacks between natural biogeochemical cycles and climate change, permafrost, black carbon, and aquatic microplastics
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Hanson Research Group
Professor Hanson’s research group focuses on the application of synthetic organic chemistry to the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic agents for neoplastic diseases.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Oyinda Oyelaran's Lab
Oyinda Oyelaran is the co-PI of the Chemistry and Chemical Biology department's NSF-REU site program.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Mattos Lab
Research in the Mattos Lab focuses on understanding the rules that govern the recognition, assembly and function of macromolecular complexes.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Kirss's Lab
Kirss's lab's research interests are in synthetic and mechanistic chemistry of iron and ruthenium. Projects are underway in synthesis of new ferrocene derivatives with potential biological activity and kinetics of phosphine substitution in catalytically active ruthenium compounds.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Booth Lab
The Booth lab undertakes drug developing starting with a GPCR structure-based ligand design approach using molecular modeling experiments, followed by synthesis of target ligands and in vitro molecular pharmacology assays to delineate their a nity and function.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Smotkin Lab
The central theme of Prof. Smotkin’s group is the discovery of better materials for clean energy sources and processes through electrolytes and electrocatalytic materials.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Chemical Imaging of Living Systems Institute
The Institute developes imaging tools to highlight chemcial processes - enabling clinicians to better diagnose and treat disease.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Barnett Institute of Chemical and Biological Analysis
The Institute was established in 1973 as a center for advanced interdisciplinary research in the chemical analysis sciences at Northeastern University, in the educational hub of Boston, Massachusetts. Today, with over 50 scientists and an $8 million endowment, the Institute is recognized internatio..
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Center for Complex Network Research (CCNR)
The Center’s objective is simple: think networks. Research focuses on how networks emerge/evolve, how they look, and how they impact our understanding of complex systems. CCNR’s research has developed to unexpected areas, including the topology of the World Wide Web; complex networks inside th..
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Center for Drug Discovery
The Center for Drug Discovery is dedicated to the discovery of novel medications and the development of approaches and technologies aimed at improving the discovery of new therapeutic drugs. Faculty include: Raymond Booth, Sergiy Tyukhtenko and Jeff Agar
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Complex Systems (CIRCS)
CIRCS fosters collaborations between researchers from different scientific and engineering disciplines who share a common interest in elucidating fundamental aspects of the structure and function of complex physical and biological systems across multiple levels of organization using a combination o..
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Northeastern University Center for Renewable Energy Technology
This center aims to be at the frontier of science and technology of clean energy conversion and storage. Faculty include: Sanjeev Mukerjee and Serge Pann
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Center for STEM Education
This university-wide center aspires to play a key role in shaping and implementing the K-20 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education strategy at Northeastern University, and to impact STEM teaching and learning at all levels, both locally and nationally.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Nanomedicine Innovation Center
The mission of the Nanomedicine Innovation Center is to generate cutting-edge research in Nanomedicine, develop innovative education and training, and place an emphasis on diversity and broadening participation. It is home to state-of-the art facilities and resources and has established partnership..
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
The Joshi Lab
The group generally works at the intersection of biomaterials science and synthetic biology. A major focus of the group’s research is on Engineered Living Materials, especially in genetically programming microbial cells to secrete and direct the assembly of biopolymeric matrices.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Clark Lab
The Clark lab builds nanoscale sensors to image and detect signaling chemistry in the body. We are a multidisciplinary team of chemists, engineers, and biologists who are seeking to expand the probes and contrast agents available for imaging. The members of the group work in the areas of sensor..
The Minds Behind COS Chemistry
Faculty Spotlight
Leila Deravi
Deravi’s team investigate fundamental mechanisms behind systems in biology and use their understanding to better inform the design of new classes of protein-based biomaterials that may interface with or enhance the performance of humans.
Steven Lopez
The Lopez group uses quantum mechanical and machine learning techniques to identify next-generation organic materials for applications in renewable energy and photomedicine.
Sanjeev Mukerjee
The research activity in Professor Mukerjee’s group is an interdisciplinary approach, namely working to develop technology to lower the cost of fuel cells for consumer vehicles.

Jacqueline Wood’s Journey Through Two Degrees

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!

June 12, 2020

Remembering Alfred Viola

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.

June 02, 2020

The Coronavirus Might Have Weak Spots. Machine Learning Could Help Find Them.

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.

This story was originally published on [email protected] on May 15, 2020. To continue reading, click here.

May 18, 2020

How Teaching Organic Chemistry Can Be Like Teaching a Foreign Language

“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 OyelaranNo wonder Oyelaran was selected as one of two faculty members to receive Northeastern University’s Excellence in Teaching Award!

This story was originally published on [email protected] on March 27, 2020. Click here to read more!

March 31, 2020

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