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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Montana State University
Po Box 173400
Bozeman , MT 59717
Tel: (406) 994-4801
Fax: (406) 994-5407

Interim Department Head
Professor David Singel


    • J.B. Broderick; bioinorganic chemistry, mechanisms of metalloenzyme-mediated reactions, mechanisms of biological radical reactions, bioremediation
    • P.R. Callis; physical chemistry, quantum chemistry, biophysical chemistry, electronic structure and photo-physical processes in molecules, solvent-solute interactions.
    • D.M. Dooley; bioinorganic chemistry, structure, mechanism, molecular biology and function of metalloproteins, inorganic spectroscopy.
    • T. Douglas; Biomineralization, bio-materials and nano-materials chemistry
    • E.A. Dratz; biophysical chemistry, biochemistry, NMR, mass spectrometry, and molecular modeling studies of membrane receptors and protein-protein interactions.
    • P.A. Grieco; natural products total synthesis and medium effects in organic chemistry.
    • T.S. Livinghouse; applied organometallic chemistry, homogeneous catalysis, organic synthesis.
    • T.K. Minton; physical chemistry, gas-surface interaction dynamics, surface modification, and photochemistry via molecular beam methods.
    • J.W. Peters; enzyme structure and mechanism
    • D.J. Singel; physical and biophysical chemistry, high field EPR and DNP biochemistry of NO, laser materials.

Associate Professors

    • M.J. Cloninger; bioorganic and macromolecular Chemistry, organic synthesis.
    • V. Copiť ; biophysical chemistry, protein structures and dynamics as probed by nuclear magnetic resonance.
    • C.M. Lawrence; membrane protein structure and function, protein/RNA interactions, macromolecular X-ray crystallography, structure assisted design of ligands and inhibitors.
    • C.K. McClure; synthetic organic chemistry, new synthetic methods, organophosphorus chemistry, alkaloid synthesis and natural product synthesis.
    • L.H. Spangler; physical chemistry and materials, spectroscopy.
    • M. Teintze; Biochemistry of membrane proteins, protein-protein interactions, protein engineering, HIV vaccines.

Assitant Professors

    • B. Bothner; proteomics, protein dynamics, supramolecular complexes
    • H.M. Nguyen; organic and organometallic chemistry
    • R. Szilagyi; synchrotron-bases spectroscopic and computational studies of bioinorganic and organometallic systems.

Degree Offered

M.S. in Chemistry
M.S. in Biochemistry
Ph.D. in Chemistry
Ph.D. in Biochemistry

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry offers research-oriented programs culminating in the Doctor of Philosophy degree. The faculty in the department have expertise over a broad range of specialty areas including synthesis, structure, spectroscopy, and mechanism. In each of these fields, the strength of MSU Chemistry and Biochemistry Department has been recognized at the international level. MSU is a dynamic university of 12,000 students with the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry being the strongest and best-funded department in the University. Doctoral students who emerge from our program have superb career opportunities.

Graduate programs in chemistry and biochemistry are designed to provide students with a solid and broad foundation on which to base their careers. An appropriate combination of coursework and independent investigation is planned with individual faculty advisors. In consultation with their graduate advisor, graduate students can tailor their program to their own needs and interests. We believe that at the conclusion of their graduate education at Montana State University, students should have a professional command of the fundamentals of their disciplines. We cultivate the ability to think independently and to critically analyze scientific problems that span disciplinary boundaries. A high level of creativity and originality in research is expected of candidates for the Ph.D. ;

Admission (M.S. and Ph.D.)

An entering graduate student is expected to have had a solid chemistry background, including general, analytical, organic, and physical chemistry courses; Mathematics through calculus; and college level physics. A student less well prepared may be provisionally admitted provided he or she can attain an acceptable background proficiency within one year. Applicants are strongly encouraged to take the GRE subject test appropriate to their area.

Please contact the Chemistry Department Graduate Coordinator to request a formal application. Applicants must be formally admitted to the Division of Graduate Education. See the Admission Policies and Application Requirements sections for additional information.

Please note that, although you can apply through the MSU Division of Graduate Education, we prefer that you send your application directly to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. This saves time in the review process (as the Division of Graduate Education immediately reroutes your application to us anyway) and allows us to waive the $50.00 application fee. Along with your application form, you'll also need to arrange for your GRE scores, three letters of recommendation and an official transcript to be sent to the address given above.  International applicants must also submit an iBT or IELTS score report and the International Student Financial Certificate (ISFC) along with the documents required on the ISFC.  Application requirements and a no-fee online application may be found on our web site;

Program Requirements

All entering graduate students are required to demonstrate proficiency in three of the five chemistry areas (analytical, inorganic, biological, organic, and physical) within the first year of residence. Passing exams in these areas does this. The exams are offered during August, November, February and April. A student is permitted three attempts in each area.

Each student, after due consideration, will choose a major advisor, who in turn will assist the student in selecting other faculty members for the student's special committee. This committee will offer the major guidance and direction to the student's degree program and bears the prime responsibility for decisions that affect that program.

Attendance and participation in the departmental seminars are required of all chemistry graduate students. All students will register for BCHM/CHMY 500 each semester.

For the Master of Science Plan A in chemistry or biochemistry, the minimum requirements are twenty (20) credit hours of appropriate courses, an acceptable thesis based on the student's research and a satisfactory oral defense of the thesis. Plan A candidates must present either a thesis proposal seminar or a literature reporting seminar in addition to the final thesis defense which constitutes the comprehensive examination. For the Master of Science Plan B in chemistry or biochemistry, the requirements are thirty (30) credit hours of appropriate courses, a literature reporting seminar, and satisfactory performance in an oral comprehensive examination during the last term of residency for the degree.

For the Doctor of Philosophy in chemistry or biochemistry, the requirements necessary to qualify for candidacy, in addition to the proficiency requirement, are a modest core program of coursework and a comprehensive examination consisting of written and oral exams.
During the second year, students will take exams designed to test their cumulative knowledge in their chosen field of specialization (one of the five core areas). The candidate is required to pass written exams, which have a variety of formats depending on the core area, and an oral examination based on the candidate’s proposal of planned research. The student is admitted to Ph.D. candidacy upon completion of these requirements.

The Division of Graduate Education minimum requirement of eighteen (18) thesis (690) credits applies to the Ph.D. degree. The seminar requirement for Ph.D. candidates includes a thesis progress seminar and the final thesis defense. The Ph.D. degree is completed by the presentation and defense of an acceptable thesis based on the student's research.

Course Requirements

To earn a Ph.D. in chemistry or biochemistry, a student must successfully complete at least six three-credit courses, maintaining a "B" average or better.  Four of these must be Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry courses and at least three must be in the student's area of specialization.

The Graduate Program Committee will advise entering students on course selection.  The listed courses can provide guidance in planning the first year's courses.

BCHM 524 Mass Spectrometry 3 credits
BCHM 526 NMR Spectroscopy 3 credits
BCHM 534 Proteins 3 credits
BCHM 544  Molecular Biology 3 credits
BCHM 545 Advanced Physical Biochemistry 3 credits
BCHM 547 Bioinorganic Chemistry 3 credits.
BCHM 550 X-ray Crystallography 3 credits

CHMY 515 Structure and Bonding in Inorganic Chemistry 3 credits
CHMY 516 Mechanism and Dynamics in Inorganic Chemistry 3 credits
CHMY 547  Bioinorganic Chemistry 3 credits

CHMY 523 Organic Reaction Mechanisms 1-3 cedits
CHMY 533 Physical Organic Chemistry 3 credits
CHMY 535 Reagent Chemistry 3 credits
CHMY 540 Organic Synthesis 3 credits
CHMY 551 Organic Structure Elucidation 3 credits
CHMY 554 Organometallic Chemistry 3 credits

CHMY 557  Quantum Mechanics 3 credits
CHMY 558 Classical and Statistical Thermodynamics 3 credits
CHMY 559  Kinetics and Dynamics 3 credits
CHMY 564 Advanced Quantum Chemistry 3 credits

Research Facilities
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Montana State University understands the important roll of instrumentation in research and training. Our department is committed to providing students, faculty, and staff with the instruments they require to stay at the forefront of research.  The mass spectrometry and proteomics facility now boasts six instruments including nanoflow chip MS/MS, accurate mass TOF, MALDI-TOF, and GCMS. Proteomics is well supported, and in addition to the new mass spectrometers, a Typhoon scanner with Decyder software are available for the analysis of protein expression experiments.

Structural Biology is well represented in our department and both NMR and X-ray equipment are available. Chemists and Biochemists alike benefit from the excellent NMR Instrumentation; 600, 500, 300, and 250 MHz NMR spectrometers. These instruments are used in routine analysis of small molecules and also protein structural determination. The center for X-ray crystallography has both a small molecule service facility and a macromolecular X-ray program. The determination of protein structures is supported by 12 SGI workstations.  Computational Chemistry is being served by a 64 processor Linux cluster with Intel 32-bit and 64-bit processors organized into 14 nodes. These nodes are equipped with the latest versions of a broad spectrum of molecular modeling and electronic structure calculation software, such as Gaussian, Jaguar, Amsterdam Density Functional, MOPAC2000, MacroModel, and Tinker. Intel and Portland Group compilers are available for software development.

The Department also boasts high frequency CW and pulsed EPR instrumentation, a dynamic light scattering instrument, an isothermal titration microcalorimeter, an ultrafast femtosecond laser system, 3 tunable high resolution Nd: YAG pumped pulsed dye laser systems, and a quartz crystal microbalance capable of monitoring dissipation. Investigations of high energy gas-phase and gas-surface molecular interaction are conducted using a molecular beam apparatus that was originally designed by Nobel Laureate, Y. T. Lee, for crossed-beam studies of elementary reaction dynamics, and is one of the premier machines in the world for this purpose. Employing a pulsed hyperthermal atomic-oxygen beam, produced by laser detonation of O2, a wide range of high energy reactions are conducted with this apparatus.

We have spectrometers for Raman, FTIR, fluorescence, CD/MCD, and X-ray photoelectron spectrometry. In addition to the equipment housed in our department, campus microscopy capabilities include transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning electron microscopy with cryogenics (SEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), confocal imaging, and laser micro dissection and capture.

The National NSF Center for Biofilm Engineering is located at Montana State University. Several faculty and students have collaborative research projects with staff associated with this Center and those listed below.

Center for Computational Biology (CCB)
The CCB is an interdisciplinary academic unit supporting research, training and technology transfer in the general area of Computational Biology, combining state-of-the-art experimental techniques with state-of-the art computer-based analysis and modeling capabilities. The research and training environment in the CCB encourage partnerships between experimentalists, theorists and engineers in diverse fields, providing opportunities to establish genuine research partnerships between students and scientists at many different institutions around the world. For more information, refer to Special Programs & Centers or visit

MSU Optical Technology Center (OpTeC)
OpTeC is an interdisciplinary center with research groups from three university departments: Physics, Chemistry & Biochemistry, and Electrical & Computer Engineering. Each of the ten research groups is led by a faculty principal investigator and specializes in a different area of optical research. Collaborating teams profit from a multidisciplinary approach to problems. The primary goals of OpTeC are to foster collaboration with local industry and economic growth of the state. OpTeC promotes research on optical materials, lasers and optoelectronic devices, sensors, micro-optical systems, holography, and coherent optics. For more information, visit

Thermal Biology Institute
The Thermal Biology Institute conducts and promotes research and education focused on the biology and interrelated physical and CHMYical processes of geothermal environments in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.  For more information visit

Center for Bio-inspired Nanomaterials
The Center for Bio-Inspired Nanomaterials [CBIN] at Montana State University is a multidisciplinary research and education center focused on utilizing and expanding our fundamental understanding of the formation and hierarchical construction of biological materials such as viruses, cells, and biominerals (bones, teeth, seashells etc.). One extension of this fundamental work is the use of biological macromolecular assemblies as templates for the construction of novel functional nano-materials. However, the goal of the Center is to study a wide range of materials, beyond those of biological origin, to achieve unique physical properties by design.  For more information visit

NASA Astrobiology Biogeocatalysis Research Center
The major research theme of the ABRC is in the area of prebiotic chemistry and specifically the role for iron-sulfur mineral motifs in the transition between the non-living and the living world. The project has three major thrusts including 1) iron-sulfur mineral catalysis, 2) iron-sulfur enzyme catalysis, and 3) biomimetic approaches to bridging iron-sulfur mineral and iron-sulfur enzyme structure and reactivity. These projects are highly integrated and the characterization of the unique iron-sulfur centers of nitrogenase and hydrogenase provide the inspiration to examine the structure determinants for effective nitrogen reduction and reversible hydrogen oxidation catalysis.For more information visit

Molecular Biosciences Program
The Molecular Biosciences Program offers numerous graduate research and training opportunities in Basic and Applied Life Sciences.  Internationally recognized interdisciplinary research programs and Research Centers of Excellence provide students excellent career development opportunities.
The MB Program provides students with the opportunity to view faculty involved in life science research divided into research areas.  The new approach should be easier for the prospective student to find a faculty conducting the research of most interest to them.  For more Information visit

Financial Assistance
A number of research and teaching assistantships are available. The stipends vary somewhat depending on duties. Teaching assistantships, currently $18,000 to $22,000 per year (subject to normal progression through the graduate program, including joining a research group) normally involve teaching, grading, proctoring, and other student-assistance tasks.
For further information, refer to the Graduate Assistantships sections.



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