The traditional disciplines of chemistry and biochemistry are developing rapidly. Our faculty and students use chemistry and biochemistry to understand and diagnose human disease and improve health, to develop new ways to convert and store energy, to build and engineer new multifunctional materials, and to connect laboratory and earth sciences. Progress in each of these areas requires a deep understanding of molecular structure, properties and synthesis, but the research goals are trending away from problems in discipline-based chemistry and biochemistry and towards larger, mission-based societal problems. Such problems often require our faculty and students to work in larger interdisciplinary groups that often extend beyond the boundaries of traditional chemistry and biochemistry.
The work our faculty and students now do reflects the ways in which chemistry and biochemistry as disciplines are maturing, and how scientific progress will be made going into the 22nd century. For this reason, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has reorganized into the new School of Molecular Sciences. Research activities are being refocused around important current societal themes, which will include:
Organizing around these themes will encourage new research initiatives and will provide the basis for new grant applications. The new groups working in these areas will develop new seminar series, discussion groups and courses. Importantly, this reorganization will more accurately reflect the current intellectual endeavors of our faculty and students. Impactful research within these themes will not be localized in the traditional areas of chemistry and biochemistry, but will require molecular level solutions to problems that can only be achieved by combining the resources of researchers across many disciplines. The new School of Molecular Science is designed to facilitate this process.
The primary goal of the new School then is to properly align research areas with faculty interest and contemporary problems, current degree programs in chemistry and biochemistry will not be affected. Longer-term goals are to investigate the educational needs relevant into the 22nd century, and new degree offerings are anticipated in the next few years. The School will offer potential undergraduate students new research opportunities in contemporary science, and eventually, new degree programs that connect to emerging new career opportunities. The School will offer potential graduate students an immersive experience in interdisciplinary research teams throughout their graduate experience, and the training they will need to be successful future independent scientists. The new School of Molecular Science will expand the traditional disciplines of chemistry and biochemistry in the broader context of contemporary education and research, and will explore additional ways to take advantage of this significant step forward.