Graduate Classes AQ2018

Graduate Courses

In the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, we offer MS degrees as well as bachelor’s degrees. The application deadline for AQ2018 has past, but if you are interested in a MS degree, we accept applications for the winter and spring quarter too! For more information on our MS program and the degree tracks, check out this link.

The courses being offered this AQ2018 are CHE442, 452, 474. FYI if you are an undergraduate, you can potentially enroll in these courses with both instructor permission and an approved exception form submission. Talk to the instructor if you are intereseted.

CHE442 – Protein Structure and Function

One of two courses in biochemistry for advanced undergraduates and graduate students in the M.S. program. An in-depth exploration of protein structure and function, this course surveys the common experimental and bioinformatics methods used by modern biochemists to study protein structure, folding, evolution, engineering, conformational dynamics, and enzymatic reactivity. Students will gain experience with and working knowledge of online databases and tools used by biochemists to formulate and test hypotheses related to the topics of the course.

CHE452 – Advanced Synthetic Organic Chemistry

This fall Dr. Vadola will be teaching the graduate course Organic Synthesis CHE 452. This course is designed to introduce students to the modern methods used for the synthesis of complex organic molecules, including pharmaceuticals and bioactive natural products. In addition to introducing students to an array of new reactions, the course focuses heavily on the strategies involved in tackling the synthesis of large molecules. Students will be able to critically analyze complex organic structures and propose strategic bond disconnections, which enable the construction of the target compound for simple, commercially available, starting materials. If you are interested in organic chemistry and synthesis, reagents and reactions mechanisms, or pharmaceuticals and bioactive compounds, this is the course for you. Undergraduate students will need an exception from Dr. Vadola to enroll. If you are interested email him ( or stop by his office.

CHE474 – Advanced Quantum Chemistry

This course will build on the understanding of quantum mechanics developed at the undergraduate level, adding skills that will enable students to engage more fully with the research literature and other advanced texts. After a brief review of the main ideas from undergraduate quantum mechanics, we will introduce the Heisenberg picture and matrix mechanics, which are necessary to fully understand current work in this field. Once we have acquired this proficiency, we will engage in a selection of topics driven by student interest. Possible areas include density matrix mechanics, quantum dynamics, energy transport mechanisms, charge transfer processes, and/or quantum effects in biology. We will address these topics through examination of recent articles in research journals, with reference to supporting presentations in textbooks or other sources. The course is structured as a hybrid course, with a flipped-classroom style. We will not follow any specific textbook, although the instructor will provide a guide to the various texts used by experts in the field. Students will read source materials and watch videos created by the instructor as a first method of engaging with the material. Once per week, we will hold a 90 minute class meeting in which we will solidify and deepen that understanding by working advanced problems together in the classroom.


Community Outreach

Community OutreachIn addition to our regular operations (teaching, research, and service to the university), many faculty engage in outreach to the community, often alongside our students. Outreach to the community is a wonderful way of helping others while also sharing the knowledge and resources that DePaul, our students, and our department have to offer. Examples of outreach include going to local schools or community events to talk about chemistry and science. We’d like to highlight two recent examples that were are very proud of because they involve the hard work of our students and alumni as well as contributions from our faculty:

This summer, Dr. Southern went up to CAMP: a FASD Community, where FASD stands for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The camp’s website is: They also have a facebook page: She worked with their staff members, including two chemistry alumni Alan Mlotkowski and Nick Tassone, to do science projects with the campers. Nick is the Executive Director and co-founder of the organization. If you want to learn more about the organization, reach out to him.

In terms of the science projects, they talked with the 23 campers (ages from 9 – 18, both boys and girls) about acid/base properties (using litmus and indicators to determine if something is an acid or a base), then did reactions of an acid and a base with other solutions, making precipitates and bubbles. The campers also froze items with liquid nitrogen, and saw dry ice bubbles, elephant toothpaste, and supersaturated sodium acetate solidifying. Dr. Southern has done this in the past and she said that many of the campers that attended last year were back again, and it was great to see how they have grown in a year.

Another example of outreach this summer was faculty and student involvement in inSTEM (Inspiring STEM in Middle-school Girls), a program founded by Dr. Cobb from the College of Education. More information can be found at their website:

The program has been expanded to three weeks during the summer and two Saturdays in September, October, and November. Dr. Shelby is the co-director of the program and has been involved for the last two years. One of our majors, Megan Wilson, was also involved. She was a Coding II instructor for 9th and 10th-grade girls. The three weeks included learning the Python coding language, which resulted in a final project of creating a game such as Clue, Tic-Tac-Toe, Rock-Paper-Scissors, or Yahtzee. She also worked with two high school-aged mentors to teach the lessons. Megan has been involved in the program since fall of 2017, and plans to continue to help teach coding for inSTEM.

Research Event at Wayne State

Many of our graduates go on to PhD programs at various graduate schools. Alan Mlotkoswki is currently attending Wayne State University for a PhD in chemistry, and he is on the planning committee for an event where graduate (and undergraduate) students share their research. If you are interested in Wayne State as a possible place for your graduate education and want to present research you have done at DePaul, this would be a good opportunity. Talk to your research adviser if you are interested!

From Alan:

“I am on the planning committee for the Annual Chemistry Graduate Research Symposium, here at Wayne State University. I know Detroit is a little bit of a hike from Chicago but I still think this is a great opportunity for the students at DePaul to come and attend this event. There is some travel and hotel support available which should alleviate the financial burden of a trip such as this.
Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan is hosting their 20th Annual Chemistry Graduate Research Symposium. This symposium focuses on posters and talks presented by graduate students from Wayne State University and surrounding schools and will be held on Saturday October 6th, 2018. This year the symposium will host three keynote speakers: Dr. Klaus Friedrich, Dr. Vahid Majidi, and Dr. Deborah Mielewski. Dr. Friedrich is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Detroit Mercy with areas of expertise in organic, medicinal and inorganic chemistry. Dr. Vahid Majidi is the Director of the Savannah River National Laboratory. Dr. Mielewski is a Senior Technical Leader in the Materials Research and Advanced Engineering Materials Sustainability Division at Ford Motor Company.
The symposium has previously seen attendance of around 150 students and provides great opportunities to network and communicate your research skills, as well as a poster competition, and offers fee-free registration. Travel and hotel support may be provided to individuals who enquire.
Register Here:
If you are interested in attending this year’s conference, please submit poster abstracts to by September 21st, 2018. Details on poster submission guidelines may be found at our website, We look forward to your submissions!”

CHE261 – Instrumental Analysis

This quarter, CHE261 – Instrumental Analysis is running again after being defunct for a significant amount of time. This lab-based course was recently re-incorporated into our curriculum for several reasons, the most important being to give our students more hands-on experience with modern research instrumentation. This class is offered every spring, and it should be taken the same year that CHE204/205 is taken (CHE204/205 – Analytical Chemistry Lecture and Lab are pre-requisites for CHE261).

The course is  being co-instructed this quarter by Drs. Grice, Griffin, and Niedziela. It started out with several workshop days in which Dr. Griffin helped the class learn about electronics and circuits, including hands-on time building and examining circuits with various arrangements of resistors and capacitors. Students then used UV-Vis spectroscopy of metal salts to learn how to understand Limit of Detection (LOD) and Limit of Quantification (LOQ) values.

After this, the bulk of the course involves hands-on work with four important instrumental techniques: Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometetry (GC-MS), Cyclic voltammetry, Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS), and Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS).

All of these modules involve creating various solutions for samples and for calibration curves of known standards . Solution-making is an important skill that comes with practice, and is critical to getting accurate measurements.


The GC-MS experiments allow analysis of volatile components of organic mixtures. The samples are heated to a gas then pushed through a column. The interaction with the column’s packing materials separate out the components, which are then analyzed by mass spectrometry. The mass spectrum of each compound gives identifying information about a molecule based on its molecular mass and fragmentation pattern.


Cyclic voltammetry (CV) allows for analysis of redox-active compounds in solution. For this module, students learn about CV and use it to analyze the amount of acetaminophen in children’s Tylenol. The acetaminophen can be quantified because it can be oxidized at an electrode in aqueous solution. The PINE potentiostats are relatively small and can be used on the bench-top with a laptop computer.


Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS) is an adaptation of optical spectroscopy that relies on the characteristic absorption properties of elements. It can be used to quantify the amounts of specific elements in a sample, such as Pb, Hg, Ca, and Mg. In this module, students use AAS to analyze Ca, Pb, and/or Mg content in various water samples.


The 4th technique that students learn is LC-MS. LC is a widely used technique, sometimes called HPLC or UPLC (depending on the specifications of the instrument). We recently obtained a LC-MS and students use it to identify the active components in Excedrin as well as quantify caffeine in coffee and yerba mate. The LC-MS offers several benefits over GC-MS, particularly in that samples do not need to be in the gas phase, so ionic or very polar species can be separated and analyzed in complex mixtures.



NSF GRFP! What does that stand for? It’s the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). This program provides fellowships for graduate students or colleges seniors planning to go to graduate school in NSF-funded areas. It is a competitive program that involves writing a novel research proposal and getting letters of recommendation from researchers in your field. Recipients receive funding that allow them to focus on their research, such as paying their stipends so that they are not required to TA for their universities for a up to 2 years.

This year, three awardees who are DePaul alumni or current DePaul students received the award! We are delighted to report that two of the three are related to our department.

Cesar Saucedo is a graduating chemistry major senior who received the NSF GRFP grant. Cesar has been working in Dr. Grice’s research lab for over three years. He has accumulated a lot of research experience that include but are not limited to two publications in Inorganic Chemistry, a publication in Electrochimica Acta, a publication in Journal of Physical Chemistry, being a Mitchem and McNair Scholar, participating the Leadership Alliance summer program at the University of Chicago, being a recipient of the ACS Scholarship. You might have seen him on the third floor of McSouth as he is the general chemistry lab prepper, and has been a CA/TA/tutor.

The NSF GRFP will provide Cesar with funding to support his research as he pursues a PhD in chemistry starting next academic year at the University of Wiscosin-Madison. Cesar’s research will depend on the group that he joins and the projects that he works on, which will be decided once he starts at UW-Madison.

In addition, Anthony Arena received the NSF GRFP this year. Some of you who have been at DePaul for a while might know Anthony. He graduated from DePaul in 2007 with BS/MS, worked for DePaul for 6 years as the Chem Lab Manager, Safety Officer and Adjunct. He was a great addition to the department, and was missed when he moved to Cambridge, MA and to work in a Biochemistry Lab at Brandeis University studying ion channels in health and disease. After three years, he then moved back to Chicago to start graduate school at University of Illinois – Chicago  (UIC) in the College of Medicine, Graduate Education in Medical Sciences (GEMS) Program. I came in under the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. He joined the research group of Dr. Dan Shaye at UIUC.

The NSF GRFP will support his research in Dr. Shaye’s lab. His project involves using genetics to examine the intersection of G-protein signaling and a protein class called CLICs during tubulogenesis (those of you with a biological background might understand this… but its ok if you don’t… ask Anthony for more info!). One model system for his work is C. elegans, a worm species that has been used in biology for a variety of applications. CLIC stands for “chloride intracellular channel”. They are a unique class of proteins because they have both a soluble and membrane-bound form. In the bigger picture, work with these systems can have implication to angiogenesis, the development of new blood vessels.

Congratulations to all of the awardees!

If you are considering going to graduate school in an NSF-funded area, you should definitely apply to the program. Even if you don’t get the grant (it is competitive), the process of applying is good practice for grant-writing. Talk to your research and/or academic adviser for more information.

Chemistry Seminar This Week

Patil Seminar.jpg

We are continuing our chemistry-packed seminar this week with Dr. Shivaputra Patil from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFUMS). Dr. Patil researchers medicinal organic chemistry and collaborates with a variety of researchers, including Dr. Grice in our department. We look forward to hearing his talk!

See you in McGowan South 105 at 1pm!


Dr. Niedziela Research Seminar Today! 1 pm in McGS 105.

SeminarSeries_Rick_April13Our Chemistry Seminar series is packed with great science this quarter. Dr. Niedziela will be giving a research talk today on Aerosol Spectroscopy.

Note that the room is McGowan South 105, and subsequent seminars will be in MGS 105 as well.

Next week, April 20th, we will have Dr. Patil from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFUMS) giving a talk about Medicinal Chemistry for Anticancer and Antiviral agents.

See you in McGowan South 105 at 1pm!