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College of Arts and Sciences Department of Chemistry

Chemistry of Biological Systems is a program in the Department of Chemistry that serves the research and education needs of graduate students and faculty in the College of Science and the Institute of Biological Chemistry. Faculty participants in the program include but is not limited to: Cliff Berkman, James Brozik, Phil Garner, Jeffrey Jones, Alex Li, Rock Mancini, ChulHee Kang, Ming Xian, Margaret Black (MBioS), David Gang (IBC).

Within the Chemistry of Biological Systems program there are three distinct tracks that include:

  • Physical Biochemistry
  • Bioorganic/Medicinal Chemistry
  • Bioanalytical

Each of these tracks meet the present requirements for a chemistry Ph.D. degree. That is, they have the same core course requirements and follow the same preliminary exam procedure. In addition to core courses, electives can be chosen from a number of classes from several departments and programs at Washington State University. Sample curricula including suggested electives for each track are given below.

Recommendations for earning a Ph.D.

The curriculum for the Chemistry of Biological Systems is flexible and will vary based on each student’s previous course experience and career goals.  The Chemistry of Biological Systems has the following recommendations in addition to the requirements of the graduate school and the chemistry department.

  1. A research advisor must be chosen before the end of the second semester of the first year.  It is appropriate and encouraged to ask a faculty member for a chance to have a short rotation in his or her laboratory.
  1. A dissertation committee of at least four faculty members must be selected by the student in consultation with their advisor in the second year.  The committee chair will be the student’s research advisor.  Other committee members may be selected from outside of the Chemistry of Biological Systems and Department.
  1. Passing the Preliminary Examination moves a student to the rank of “doctoral candidate” and consists of a written examination followed by an oral examination.
  1. The written examination will be scheduled to take place on the second Saturday after completing the second year of coursework (mid-to-late May).  This examination will test the general background in the chemistry of biological systems as well as areas related specifically to the student’s area of specialty, including current literature.  As an aid to students preparing for their preliminary examinations, a suggested reading list may be obtained from the each faculty member on the student’s committee.  The dissertation committee will write and grade the examination.  If successful, the student will move on to the oral examination described below.  If the student fails the written exam, two outcomes are possible: 1) the student may be allowed to retake the written preliminary exam, or 2) the student will end their progress towards earning a Ph.D.
  1. The oral examination will consist of the defense of a written research proposal. The scope of this proposal must be acceptable to the student’s advisor and committee and the proposal should adhere to the format described for NSF or NIH predoctoral fellowships (a limit of 10 pages). The proposal may be related to the student’s dissertation research and if so, should contain preliminary results while extending beyond the expected scope of the dissertation. The defense of this proposal will be conducted in the form of an open public seminar and immediately followed by a closed meeting with the dissertation committee. During the exam, students should be prepared to answer questions concerning their proposed research. The oral examination should be completed by the end of the fifth semester. If the student passes the oral exam, he or she is advanced to doctoral candidacy.  If the student fails the oral exam, he or she may be permitted to retake the exam.  This decision is made by the student’s committee immediately following the oral exam.
  1. Each student must present at least one seminar each year.
  1. The Final Examination consists of the presentation and defense of the student’s dissertation.  This presentation will be conducted in the form of an open public seminar, which will be immediately followed by a closed meeting with the dissertation committee.

 

Physical Biochemistry

Year 1

1st semester

  • Chem 532 Advanced Physical Chemistry II (Required)
  • Elective
  • MBioS 513 General Biochemistry I or MBioS 571 Advanced Plant Biochemistry (One Required)
  • Seminar

2nd semester

  • Chem 531 Advanced Physical Chemsitry I
  • Chem 534 Statistical Mechanics
  • Elective
  • Seminar
Year 2

1st semester

  • Phys 566 Biological Physics
  • Chem 540 Physical Organic Chemistry (Required)
  • Chem 536 Quantum Mechanics
  • Seminar

2nd semester

  • Elective
  • Elective
  • Seminar

 

Possible Electives Include:

Quantum Mechanics (Chem 536); Advanced Plant Biochemistry (MBioS 571)
Plant Primary Metabolism (Biol 513); Computational Chemistry (Chem 535)
Advanced Organic Chemistry (Chem 542) Proteomics (Chem 510)
Chemical Statistical Dynamics (Chem 534); Pharmacology (P/T 506)
Bioanalysis (Chem 512) Bioorganic Chemistry (Chem 543)

Bioorganic/medicinal chemistry

Year 1

1st semester

  • Chem 542 Advanced Organic Chemistry
  • Chem 546 Organic Characterization
  • Elective
  • Chem 800 Research

2nd semester

  • Chem 540 Physical Organic Chemistry
  • Chem 544 Colloquium in Organic Chemistry
  • Elective
  • Chem 594 Organic Seminar
  • Chem 800 Research
Year 2

1st semester

  • Chem 543 Bioorganic Chemistry
  • MBioS 513 General Biochemistry I
  • Chem 544 Colloquium in Organic Chemistry
  • Chem 594 Organic Seminar
  • Chem 800 Research
  • Elective

2nd semester

  • Chem 545 Synthetic Organic Chemistry
  • Chem 544 Colloquium in Organic Chemistry
  • Chem 594 Organic Seminar
  • Chem 800 Research
  • Elective
  • Elective

 

Year 3 &Year 4

In addition to any desired electives, Chem 544 (Colloquium in Organic Chemistry) and Chem 594 (Seminar in Organic Chemistry) will be required each semester.

 

Possible Electives Include:

Introduction to Proteomics (Chem 510) Selective Toxicology (PharS 546)
Mass Spectrometry (Chem 514) Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics (PharS 541)
Advanced Physical Chemistry II (Chem 532) Toxicology (PharS 544)
Biological Physics (Phys 566) Cell Biology (MBiosS 501)
Topics in Pharmacology (P/T 512) Molecular Biology I (MBiosS 503)
Advanced Pharmacokinetics / Toxicokinetics (P/T 510) General Biochemistry II (MBiosS 514)
Biochemical Signaling (MBiosS 561)

For those students pursuing a cancer research emphasis, alternate electives are listed below:

Fundamentals of Oncology (P/T 572) Epidemiology (MBioS 446)
Bioethics (PHIL 530) Advanced Biomedical Ethics (PHIL 535)
Analysis of Variance of Designed Experiments (STAT 512) Statistical Methods for Engineers and Scientists (STAT 523)
Introduction to Nuclear Medicine (Chem 529) Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry  (Chem 543)
Cell Biology (MBioS 501) General Biochemistry (MBioS 513)

Bioanalytical Chemistry

Year 1

1st semester

  • Chem 542 Advanced Organic Chemistry or Chem 540 Physical Organic Chemistry (Required)
  • Biochemistry I, MBioS 513 or Advanced Plant Biochemistry (One Required)
  • Seminar

2nd semester

  • Chem 531 Molecular Thermodynamics (Required)
  • Chem 518 Electrochemistry
  • Elective
  • Seminar
Year 2

1st semester

  • Phys 566 Biological Physics
  • Chem 510 Proteomics
  • Chem 512 Bioanalysis
  • Seminar

2nd semester

  • Elective
  • Elective
  • Seminar

Possible Electives Include:

Quantum Mechanics (Chem 536) General Biochemistry II (MBiosS 514)
Plant Primary Metabolism (Biol 513) Advanced Plant Biochemistry (MBioS 571)
Advanced Organic Chemistry (Chem 542) Computational Chemistry (Chem 535)
Chemical Statistical Dynamics (Chem 534) Pharmacology (P/T 506)
Chromatography (Chem 517) Bioorganic Chemistry (Chem 543)
Mass Spectrometry (Chem 514)