Departmental Focus Areas

Undergraduate Research in Chemistry

The faculty at Sam Houston State University feel that research is an integral part of one's training in chemistry. It is in the research laboratory that students begin to learn how to be a chemist. The research laboratory is where the knowledge acquired in the classroom is utilized to pursue a problem in chemistry. When students work in the research laboratory, they become familiarized with all aspects of chemistry in the pursuit of a single problem. The folding of filter paper, the preparation of standardized solutions, the recrystallization of solids and distillation of liquids, obtaining routine spectra are all techniques that the student will find useful in the goal of solving a chemical problem or exploring new and better ways of doing things. All chemistry majors who complete our program engage in extended chemical research before obtaining their degrees. Often students carry out research during the summer months and are mentored by a faculty member with whom the student works. Student stipends up to $2,500 are available for students carrying out summer research.

The department's analytical instrumentation includes state-of-the-art fluorescence spectrometry, FT-IR spectrometry, gas chromatography with mass selective detection (GC-MS), hydride generation atomic absorption spectrometry, inductively coupled plasma spectrometry, and 300 MHz NMR, and UV-Vis spectrometry among others. Chemistry faculty are variously involved in the Texas Research Institute for Environmental Studies (TRIES, based at SHSU) where much of these instruments are located in a modern laboratory setting. Undergraduate students get extensive hands-on use of these instruments in their research projects.

Summer research is a time of growth in a student's chemical understanding, a broadening of the knowledge of chemical techniques and methods, and a chance to have fun in an independent laboratory setting. Finally, there is a mid-summer picnic for all research participants and their guests. In an informal setting away from the research labs, students develop connections with professors and students in other research groups.)

The B.S. in Forensic Chemistry

The Department also offers the B.S. in Forensic Chemistry and this degree is the first of its kind in Texas. This growing field of chemistry is exciting and there is an increasing demand for chemists in this area. The advent of instrumental methods of forensic analyses has allowed for the detection of vanishingly small amounts of blood, metals, tissue, DNA, etc. These advances have revolutionized forensic crime solving and increased the need for trained forensic chemists. Successful completion of this degree program allows the student to apply for the program leading to the M.S. in Forensic Science, an interdepartmental graduate degree offered jointly in the Departments of Biology, Chemistry and Criminal Justice.

The B.S. Chemistry Degree with an Emphasis in Biotechnology

The aging of our population, the continued search for better health care for our population, and the ongoing and expanding research in the pharmaceutical industry have spurred the growth of biotech companies, especially in the Houston area and across the nation. There is an ever-increasing demand for chemists who are trained in biotechnology to help further advances made in these areas. This degree option combines the use of training in biochemistry and its specialized separation techniques with more traditional instrumental analytical methods to produce chemists with a broad spectrum of biotechnical capabilities. Students who go through this program can become employed directly after completion of their degree or continue their education in quality graduate schools across the nation.