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The Department of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota (UMN) provides a world-class education through classroom teaching and cutting-edge research. As a central, core discipline in science and engineering, chemistry is critical for solving society's most important problems and making significant positive impacts on human health, energy, and the environment. The UMN Department of Chemistry has been a national and international leader throughout its history. A wide range of companies and academic institutions from across the world hire our graduates and collaborate with us on research. Department of Chemistry alumni have enormous societal impact as academicians, K-12 teachers, scientists and managers in industrial and government laboratories, lawyers, public policy advocates, entrepreneurs, and in a diverse array of other fields.
Our faculty members have received many prestigious awards. Six members of the department have been members of the National Academy of Sciences and one has received a Nobel Prize. Our award-winning faculty includes recipients of the F. Albert Cotton Award in Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry (John Ellis); Analytical Chemistry Award (Peter Carr); Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry (Donald Truhlar); Ralph F. Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry (George Barany); Alfred Bader Award in Bioinorganic or Bioorganic Chemistry (Lawrence Que Jr.); and Carl Marvel Award in Creative Polymer Chemistry (Marc Hillmyer). Two faculty members are Regents Professors (Que and Truhlar); one is member of the National Academy of Sciences (Truhlar); and eight are University Distinguished McKnight Professors. Seven faculty members serve as editors for top chemistry journals, playing a key role in the worldwide dissemination of scientific knowledge.
As a central science, chemistry courses are required for many majors at the university. Thirty-five regular faculty members and 5 to 7 temporary lecturers teach more than 40,000 student credit hours per year. There are approximately 230 graduate students and 300 undergraduate students majoring in chemistry. More than 100 bachelor's degrees, and more than 30 master's degrees and doctorate degrees are granted each year.
Ten current faculty members have won teaching awards and are members of the Distinguished Academy of Teaching at the University of Minnesota, attesting to the outstanding quality of instruction provided in the department. Forefront instructional methods are used to enhance learning throughout the curriculum, from the introductory general chemistry level to the most advanced graduate courses. These include peer-to-peer mentoring, active learning, process oriented guided inquiry, and fun and informative demonstrations of chemistry in action.
Research in the department is wide-ranging and interdisciplinary, and addresses key societal needs and university initiatives. Overarching goals of ongoing research projects include improving human health and the environment, developing nanotechnology and novel advanced materials for a myriad of applications, and unraveling problems associated with devising new, alternative sources of energy. Research performed by graduate and undergraduate students as well as some 50 postdoctoral associates resulted in more than $10 million in research expenditures in 2010. The department houses the Centers for Metals in Biocatalysis and Sustainable Polymers as well as the director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.
Diverse and dynamic efforts to inform the public about chemistry and its societal significance are critically important for an educated citizenry. We do chemistry demonstrations and discuss chemistry careers in local elementary, junior high, and senior high school classes and local libraries. We have participated in events at the Science Museum of Minnesota and The Works, local parent-teacher association meetings, the Minnesota State Fair, and Math & Science Family Fun Day at the university.
We also bring students to campus for special chemistry camps, workshops, and demonstrations. Students and their parents meet our professors and graduate students, learn about chemistry through hands-on experiments, and see chemistry in action.
The popular Energy and U show is an interactive presentation that emphasizes the important topic of energy through a choreographed set of demonstrations that integrates physical and chemical principles, energy conversion demonstrations, explosions, audience participation, music, and humor. Last year, approximately 3,000 K-8 students and teachers saw the show. We expect to present this show to approximately 10,000 students annually in the coming years.
Department faculty members and students have developed a sustainable polymer exhibit at the Eco Experience, a 25,000 foot2 exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair that is aimed at informing and educating the public-at-large about forefront sustainable polymers research and technology. More than 300,000 people visit it every summer.
The department also sponsors a summer research program for outstanding undergraduate students. The Lando/NSF Chemistry Summer Research Program encourages students in the chemical sciences to learn more about research in chemistry and provides them with the opportunity to work in a lab under the direction of a faculty member. Currently, support for this program comes from a combination of university and National Science Foundation-Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) sources.
We have many ways for you to keep in touch with what's happening in the Department of Chemistry. Check out our website home page. Join our Facebook group. Follow us on Twitter. Or join the chemistry group on LinkedIn. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.