Chemistry & Chemical Biology

Three decades ago, Stevens founded the world's first program in chemical biology-and the same spirit of innovation inspires its people today. Ph.D. candidates in both chemistry and chemical biology might take part in landmark research, use one of the foremost mass spectrometry laboratories in the world, collaborate with a lifetime achievement award winner, and build a promising career in a burgeoning field. In the process, their studies might take them anywhere from the discovery of chemical compounds from rainforest products to the advancement of modeling techniques to study macromolecules.

Faculty Distinctions

  • Distinguished Research Professor A. K. Ganguly has won several prestigious awards during his remarkable career, including the Thomas Alva Edison Award, the Indian Chemical Society Lifetime Achievement Award, and the American Chemical Society's E. B. Hershberg Award for Important Discoveries in Medicinally Active Substances. As the last award implies, his longtime work in medicinal chemistry focuses on the design and synthesis of biologically active molecules.
  • Professor Athula Attygalle has actively prospected for new chemical compounds by pharmacologically screening natural products from the tropical rainforest. Overall, he conducts a broad range of research at the vanguard of chemical biology, from chemical communication and defense in arthropods to mass spectrometry and chromatography.
  • Professor Nuran Kumbaraci has conducted research at the Columbia University Artificial Organs Research Laboratory and in Lever Brothers' pharmaceutical division, among other venues. Her work in chemical biology includes investigation into the dynamics behind muscle contraction, synaptic transmission, and immunochemical mechanisms.
  • The National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Dow Chemical Company, and other organizations have benefited from the research of Professor Marc Mansfield. As part of his work in statistical methods and molecular modeling, his team recently invented a powerful new technique for studying macromolecules of arbitrary shape through computation of their diffusivities and viscosities.
  • Molecular interfaces and layered polymers form the focus of Professor Svetlana A. Sukhishvili's research. By manipulating surface properties of multilayers at the nanoscale level during self-assembly, her team has demonstrated the ability to create a whole new range of advanced materials, with promising applications in the design of drug delivery systems.
  • Professor Jiahua Xu focuses on the dynamics of cell-matrix interactions to understand how the surrounding microenvironment regulates cell behavior in normal tissue maintenance, tissue repair, and tumor tissue progression.
  • Professor JunFeng Liang's work on surface sensitized biofilms and membrane-acting lytic peptides has attracted international recognition and support.

Research Areas

In chemistry, the department has gained international recognition in polymer synthesis and characterization, methods of instrumental analysis, medicinal chemistry, and structural chemistry (theoretical as well as experimental). Research in chemical biology focuses on cell signaling and tissue repair, protein trafficking through membranes, drug encapsulation and dosing, and proteomics.


The Center for Mass Spectrometry ranks among the best-equipped laboratories of its kind in the world. Researchers pursue pioneering work through the center's Electrospray, MALDI, GC/LC MS, and other new techniques.

Alumni Accomplishments

Ph.D. graduates from this department include:

  • An internationally renowned pioneer in bioinformatics and computational biology.
  • An authority on mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance who conducts research at one of the leading pharmaceutical research institutes.
  • The co-founder of a rare-cell diagnostic corporation.
  • Several professors at major medical and dental schools.


To enter a graduate engineering program at Stevens, you must submit the following:

  • Completed application
  • Application fee
  • Official college transcripts from all colleges attended
  • Official or attested conferment of bachelor's degree
  • Two letters of recommendation

International applicants (who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents) must also submit:

  • Official TOEFL score, sent to School Code #2819
  • Financial Verification Form or I-134

To enter the doctoral program in ocean engineering, you must apply through the departmental graduate admissions committee. Admission is based on a review of your scholastic record. A master's degree is required; your master's-level academic performance must reflect your capability to pursue advanced studies and conduct independent research.

Degree Requirements

The GRE (General) is required for admission to the doctoral program in either chemistry or chemical biology. International students must also take the TOEFL.

You must earn 84 graduate credits* to complete the doctoral program. Of these credits, 30 to 45 must be earned through course work, and 30 to 45 via dissertation work. You may apply up to 30 credits from an approved master's program toward your doctoral degree.

You must take a written qualifying examination to test your comprehension of chemistry and biology fundamentals. After passing the qualifying examination and completing the required course work, you will take a preliminary examination to evaluate your aptitude for advanced research and your understanding of the subjects associated with your dissertation topics. Upon satisfactory completion of this examination, you become a doctoral candidate.

Doctoral research carried out under the advice and supervision of the faculty must be based on an original investigation, and the results must make a significant, state-of-the-art contribution to the field, worthy of publication in current professional literature. At the completion of the research, you must defend your dissertation in a public presentation.

*If you entered the PhD program before the Fall 2012 semester, you must earn 90 credits to complete your degree.