About Us

Welcome to Stanford Chemistry! 

Message from the Chair, Keith Hodgson.

In the Chemistry Department at Stanford, we seek to explore and to expand the frontiers of modern chemistry.  Chemistry is critical to understand the world around us; a distinguishing feature of chemistry as a discipline is its focus on creating new forms of matter, investigating the structure and dynamics of atomic and molecular systems, and developing new experimental tools and theoretical approaches to understand and control atomic and molecular behavior.   There are few areas of developing scientific knowledge and technology that do not rely heavily on chemistry; those that do include medicine, human health, biotechnology, materials science, biology, applied physics, microscopy, geology, and environmental science, among others.  We thus approach the problems in these fields from the mechanistic perspectives of making molecules, investigating molecules, and controlling molecules, through a wide range of programs and initiatives which fulfill our dual roles of excellence in research and teaching.  With deep expertise in synthetic organic chemistry, biological chemistry, computational chemistry, inorganic chemistry, polymer chemistry, physical chemistry, and biophysics in our department, we attract talented students and postdoctoral researchers from around the world.  Our distinguished faculty contains many members of the National Academy of Sciences and many international award winners, and our undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers are also the recipients of numerous honors.  From another point of view, our department sits at an intellectual and physical location at the nexus between basic sciences, applied sciences/engineering, and medicine at Stanford, which enables a variety of multidisciplinary projects and interactions.  For example, in our Center for Molecular Analysis and Design (CMAD), graduate students are paired with two faculty mentors which offer alternative and complementary perspectives to a compelling research problem.  Further, because many of our faculty explore the ways in which a chemical approach can bear on problems in biology and medicine, we are intimately involved in the new Stanford Institute for Chemical Biology (SICB).  I invite you to explore our web pages for more information about our various teaching and research programs!

Physical Facilities:

The Chemistry complex consists of seven buildings, four of which are dedicated to Chemistry and three of which are shared with nearby Departments.

Adjoining buildings house the Bio-X program and the Biology, Computer Science, and Chemical Engineering Departments. This cluster of buildings is located near a wide range of science and engineering departments and the Medical School. While formally connected with the School of Engineering, the Department of Chemical Engineering shares stockroom, classrooms, research library, and technical service facilities with the Chemistry Department. The Swain Research Library, located within the Chemistry cluster, houses a large collection of books and extensive periodicals. Members of the Chemistry Department enjoy 24-hour access, and computerized literature searching is available, covering databases such as Chemical Abstracts, Science Citation Index, and Engineering Index. Students and faculty also make extensive use of excellent libraries in the Biology, Physics, and Math Departments, and in the Schools of Medicine and Engineering.

The Department has a very strong commitment to obtaining and maintaining state-of-the-art instrumentation for analysis and spectroscopy. The NMR instruments include 5 Varian/Agilent spectrometers-two 400 MHz, one each 300 MHz, 500 MHz, and 600MHz spectrometers equipped for a wide range of nuclei. Departmental staff provide training for student operators. The Stanford Magnetic Resonance Laboratory (SMRL), a specialized University facility located in the Organic Chemistry building, is available for use by members of the Chemistry Department. Its instruments include 500, 600, and 800 MHz NMR spectrometers, principally for analysis of biological macromolecules. The staff of the Magnetic Resonance Laboratory is very experienced in the development and application of new NMR methods. A graduate level course is offered yearly to provide hands-on experience in NMR spectroscopy. 

In the area of mass spectrometry, the Stanford University Mass Spectroscopy (SUMS) facility is located in the Mudd Chemistry Building. This facility is a Bio-X core facility and is also partially supported as the Proteomics Shared Resource of the Stanford Cancer Center. Beyond making available state-of-the-art, user-friendly facilities and services, the laboratory enables education, methods development, and new applications development, designed to meet the rapidly evolving needs of researchers. Due to the essential information that mass spectrometry provides to researchers in the fields of the physical and life sciences, medicine, and engineering, the laboratory serves as an “intellectual watering hole” at the crossroads of diverse disciplines.  At this time, the facility has in operation three GC-MS and eight LC-MS systems -- one single quad, two ion traps, three triple quads, one hybrid quadrupole-time of flight, one benchtop Orbitrap and one hybrid LTQ-Orbitrap.  Software resources include instrument-specific packages Xcalibur, MassLynx, ChemStation; proteomics software Mascot, Bioworks, Sequest Sorcerer, Scaffold; and other tools Mass Frontier, QuanLynx, OpenLynx, MetaboLynx, ChemDraw.

An extremely wide range of state-of-the-art specialized instrumentation is available in individual Chemistry research groups. A brief list includes: femtosecond and picosecond linear and nonlinear spectroscopy, ultra-high resolution laser spectroscopy, ion cyclotron resonance facilities, dynamic light scattering spectroscopy, single-molecule spectroscopy, trapping, and imaging, biological culture facilities, and electrochemical systems.

Other major Chemistry Department facilities include the following: Agilent Cary UV-Vis-NIR spectrophotometer, Bruker  FTIR/Raman spectrometer, 2 Jobin-Yvon Fluorolog fluorimeters, two Jasco CDs with 70 kG Oxford magnets for MCD at variable temperature from the UV to NIR, two Spex laser-Raman spectrometers (including Argon-ion and Krypton-ion pumped dye lasers for resonance Raman), atomic absorption spectrometer, superconducting magnetometer with SQUID detection, and Varian E-11 and Bruker EPR spectrometers under computer control with variable temperature and optical dewars. Extensive computing facilities are available as well.

Our Environment:

In addition to these facilities, the Department benefits from close ties with the Laboratory for Advanced Materials; the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory; the Stanford Programs in Biophysics, and in  Molecular and Genetic Medicine; and other interdisciplinary facilities offering unique support and opportunities for research. The Laboratory for Advanced Materials is chartered to be a center of excellence in research of materials-related problems. The Laboratory houses facilities for electron and ion spectroscopy, probe and electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction, and for fabrication of non-linear optical devices, polymers, thin films, and semiconductors. The Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory is the world's leading center for characterization of materials by x-rays. This includes x-ray diffraction with an ultra-intense, tunable source, x-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), extended fine-structure analysis (EXAFS), x-ray scattering from surfaces, soft x-ray analysis of surfaces, and vacuum ultraviolet and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopies. Many of the pioneering applications of sycnhrotron radiation to problems in chemical physics, structural chemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, and biophysics have been initiated by faculty and students in Stanford's Chemistry Department. In recent years a number of chemistry students have been involved in interdisciplinary research programs with co-advisors from Applied Physics, Biochemistry, Structural Biology, Cell Biology, Neurobiology, Genetics, Chemical Engineering, Physics, Materials Science, and other departments.

The Stanford Chemistry Department is physically and intellectually located at the center of an enormous range of scientific enterprises which offer tremendous opportunities for curious and inventive young scientists. In particular, Stanford is located in the midst of one of the largest concentrations of high-technology corporations in the world. This is an enormous asset to the University, as it provides close ties with industrial laboratories and opportunities for the development of new technologies. Among companies our department interact with include: Affymax, Agilent, Amgen, Chevron, Codexis, Coherent, Elan, Exelixis, Genentech, Geron, Gilead, Hewlett-Packard, IBM Research Laboratories, Novartis, Rigel, Roche Bioscience, Theravance, and Varian. Large numbers of biotechnology, semiconductor, and laser companies have their roots in research undertaken at Stanford, helping to create an exciting and intense atmosphere of innovation and discovery.

The Department of Chemistry recognizes the importance of partnerships between industry and academia in maintaining the vitality of both. Partnerships offer corporations more than just access to excellent research and promising employees; it offers corporations a unique opportunity to partner with a world leader in innovation. We encourage corporations to explore ways they can leverage their resources by supporting the efforts of the Chemistry Department. Such support is an investment in the intellectual and scientific base upon which our future industrial and national growth depend.

The Department of Chemistry offers several seminars throughout each academic year. Speakers from around the world visit and give talks in all areas of chemistry.  In addition, the W. S. Johnson Symposium in Organic Chemistry is held in October each year and the CMAD Symposium is held in May each year. These symposia all involve the active participation of faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows.

Our students also recognize that these external relationships support their scientific career and offer an excellent opportunity to make contact with representatives of industrial research laboratories for which they would like to work after earning their degree. Coming from a top-ranked Department, Stanford graduates are in an extremely competitive position in both the academic and industrial job markets. Recent graduates have taken positions in companies such as: Allied, Bell Labs, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Chevron, Clorox, Dow, DuPont, Eli Lilly, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, Genentech, Gilead, Glaxo, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, 3M, McKinsey & Co., Merck, Monsanto, Novartis, Pfizer, and Roche Bioscience. A large number of Stanford graduates choose academic careers in chemistry. Within the recent past students have taken positions at: Caltech, Columbia, Cornell, CU Boulder, Harvard, Illinois, MIT, Nebraska, Northeastern, Oregon, Rice, UC Berkeley, UCSD, UT Austin, Washington, Wesleyan, and Wisconsin, to name a few.