Research

The Vassar chemistry faculty pursue research in a wide variety of chemistry subdisciplines, ranging from the study of biologically active compounds with X-ray crystallographic methods to the investigation of the molecular origins of protein folding and stability. In keeping with the college’s emphasis on the use of original sources in teaching, the faculty open their research laboratories to students. It is the department’s belief that the research experience provides students with essential skills and insights with which to pursue a career in science, and more broadly, is also excellent training for nonscientific careers such as law and teaching. See a list of faculty research interests below.

Opportunities

Research opportunities are available to students at all levels of the curriculum for course credit or for pay through college-supported and externally funded research positions. The department’s firm belief in the value of original research for students is evident in the requirement that all chemistry majors write a senior thesis which presents the results of their senior year independent research projects. The collaboration between faculty and chemistry students on original research projects at all stages of the student’s undergraduate career creates a unique environment where students become scholars and scholars learn from their students.

Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI)

Chemistry faculty also participate in Vassar’s Undergraduate Research Summer Institute, U.R.S.I. This ten-week paid internship program matches students who have an interest in pursuing research with Vassar science faculty mentors. Approximately 50 Vassar students participate in the program every summer, of whom ten on average are chemistry students. The program culminates in a research symposium held at Vassar in the fall and frequently leads to students co-authoring research papers with faculty.  For more information, view URSI projects in Chemistry on the URSI website.

Faculty Research

Marianne Begemann
Geochemical transport of metals, especially aluminum

Stuart Belli
Environmental chemistry of copper; the interaction of copper with humic substances

Zachary Donhauser
Scanning probe microscopy and molecular-scale biophysical measurements

Eric Eberhardt
Proteomics, molecular origins of protein folding and stability.
Website

Teresa Garrett
Biochemistry of Gram-negative bacterial lipids

Christina Noring Hammond
Organic chemistry education

Sarjit Kaur
Chemistry of polymers including sulfonated polymers and biodegradable poly(anhydrides); novel amide mimics, fluorinated styrene, and parylene monomers

Alison Keimowitz
Environmental chemistry of arsenic: fundamental chemical and microbiological processes which control arsenic and other trace metal mobility

Miriam Rossi
X-ray crystallography of biologically active compounds

Christopher J. Smart
Organometallic chemistry of fullerenes

Edith C. Stout
Archeochemistry of tars, pitches, and fossil resins, including amber. Website

Joseph M. Tanski
Early transition metal coordination chemistry, asymmetric catalysis, extended structure coordination chemistry and X-ray crystallography.
Website