The Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Stevens is known for its legacy of fostering and nurturing groundbreaking, world-class innovation.
Dr. Irving Langmuir, a former Stevens Chemistry faculty member, won the 1932 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discoveries in surface chemistry. Stevens was among the first to offer an undergraduate chemical biology degree in 1978 and today remains at the forefront of chemical biology with our internationally recognized faculty in the healthcare domain as well as with professionally diverse experiences in academia and industry.In the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, our mission is to:
Create new knowledge with focus on advancing the field of chemical biology as our historic, unique, and synergistic intellectual frontier and anchoring the growth of interdisciplinary biomedical research at Stevens.
Educate and empower tomorrow’s leaders and innovators with broad foundation in chemical and biological sciences, critical hands-on laboratory skills, integrative research spine experience, and global societal perspectives.
Inspire students in introductory chemistry and biology courses using creative and evidence-based approaches, including active and problem-based learning, in a real world and global context.
Expose students to career opportunities, as innovators, at the intersection between science, engineering, and medicine through research and clinical experiences, industrial internships, and study abroad programs.
Message from the Chair
Chemistry and chemical biology is a thriving department at the Stevens Institute of Technology. In addition to offering access to spectacular views of New York City, the regional area has the highest concentration of healthcare-related enterprises in the world, including hospital networks and clinics, health insurance providers, pharmaceutical, life science and medical device companies, and other supporting industries.
With access to numerous regional resources, our students benefit from many experiential research and internship opportunities, and placement rates for graduates that are among the highest in the nation, including acceptance to medical school.
The department offers a several unique programs of study at the interface of chemistry, chemical biology, and biology, offering students the opportunity to work with a vibrant group of faculty who are performing research in areas such as computational, medicinal, physical and peptide chemistry, cancer biology and organoid-based disease modeling, drug discovery, and development and application of advanced bio analytical methods.
Even with these diverse research opportunities, we remain a relatively small department, which allows our students to develop close working relationships with faculty members. We strive to maintain a collegial environment, and we continue to offer small class sizes with updated teaching facilities. I invite you to join our community of researchers with molecular, cellular, and computational minds as a student member.
Dr. Woo Lee
The Department of Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology summarizes the future goals of the department and focuses on how to achieve that progress over the next five years.
Strategic Plan highlights
External Advisory Board
The external advisory board of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology is comprised of a diverse group of distinguished individuals in their careers as well as our recent alumni from a spectrum of fields related to the educational and research programs of the department. The board meets at least once per year, and is charged with reviewing programs and providing counsel and advocacy to the department's mission and strategic plan.
Scott Alpizar, Ph.D. (2023-2026)
Director of Venture Commercialization, New Jersey Health Foundation and Foundation Venture Capital Group
Scott Alpizar is the Director of Venture Commercialization with the New Jersey Health Foundation and Foundation Venture Capital Group, where he plays a critical role in sourcing, evaluating, and closing deals for potential investment. He also works directly with academic entrepreneurs and management teams of health-related early-stage startup companies to support their commercialization needs, including research and development plants, intellectual property strategies, and financial modeling. He earned two BS degrees from the University of New Haven in Forensic Science and Pre-Medical Biology and completed his PhD in neuroscience at Dartmouth College, where he studied the development and function of one of the structures responsible for neuronal signaling. He is passionate about supporting the innovation ecosystem throughout New Jersey and across the country with a specific emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Michael Bertucci, Ph.D. (2023-2026)
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, Lafayette College
Michael Bertucci graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology with BS in Chemical Biology before pursuing his PhD in Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under the mentorship of Dr. Michel R. Gagné. He joined the chemistry department at Hartwick College as a Visiting Assistant Professor in 2014 before moving to Moravian University for a tenure-track appointment one year later. In 2021, he accepted an offer to join the chemistry department at his current institution, Lafayette College. He has taught courses in Organic Chemistry I & II, Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Nursing Chemistry and Senior Seminar for Chemistry and Biochemistry Majors. He is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award and was named a Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar in 2023.
Lance Richard Bruck, M.D., CPE, FACOG, FACS (2021–2027)
Vice President and Chairman, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Women’s Health, Jersey City Medical Center
Lance Richard Bruck is a Clinical Professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Dr. Bruck also holds the academic positions of residency program director, fellowship director in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery, medical student clerkship director and serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees at his alma mater, Muhlenberg College. Dr. Bruck has spent 30 years in academic medicine holding positions at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Columbia University, College of Physician & Surgeons, Yale University and New York Medical College.
Alexa Hacopian (2024-2027)
Senior Scientist, Sterility, Biocompatibility and Chemistry, Stryker
Alexa Hacopian is a Senior Scientist at Stryker in the Joint Replacement division where she conducts chemical residual analysis, method development on new lab instrumentation specific to medical devices, as well as working on lab optimization efforts for continuous improvement and efficiencies. Alexa also conducts biocompatibility assessments for orthopedic and robotic devices under new product development projects coming to market. Alexa Hacopian graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology in December 2022 with her MS in Chemistry, focusing in Analytical and Biomedical Chemistry.
Simarna Kaur, Ph.D. (2021–2024)
Associate Director and Fellow, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health
Simarna Kaur has experience in bringing new, innovative products to market. She is an inventor on 16 granted US patents, and a co-author on 18 peer-reviewed publications and 6 book chapters. Simarna is actively involved in mentoring new scientists and shaping talent development programs at Johnson & Johnson. She is a recipient of multiple leadership awards at J&J, including the prestigious Johnson Medal, the highest research award given within Johnson & Johnson.
Pek Lum, Ph.D. (2022–2025)
Chief Executive Officer, Auransa, Inc.
Pek Lum is the co-founder and CEO of Auransa Inc., a computationally-driven pharmaceutical company. She is the chief architect of the science behind Auransa’s technology, combining her deep understanding of genomics and her vast experience in applying data science in the pharmaceutical industry. Before founding Auransa, Pek was an early employee and vice president of Product and chief data scientist for Ayasdi, a deep tech software company, where she created early business verticals and helped grow the company. Pek started off her career at Rosetta Inpharmatics, a pioneer in genomics and microarray technology. After Rosetta's acquisition by Merck, Pek continued to champion the integration of data science into biology, contributing to Merck’s development pipeline. Pek did her undergraduate degree as a Monbusho Scholar at Hokkaido University, Japan and received her PhD studying yeast genetics at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her work has been widely published in scientific and medical journals, such as Nature and Cell, and her research has contributed to discoveries in drug development and the understanding of complex diseases.
Michael Milone, M.D., Ph.D. (2024-2027)
Associate Professor, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Dr. Michael Milone is an Associate Professor and Associate Vice Chair for Faculty Development and Academic Affair in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. His research is focused on the development of genetically engineered T cell immunotherapies for the treatment of disease. Although cancer remains a major area of interest for his laboratory, Dr. Milone’s research also explores applications of engineered T cells to non-malignant disease, most notably antibody-mediated autoimmune disease. Dr. Milone is a co-inventor of tisagenlecleucel (CTL019, KymriahÒ), the first US FDA-approved gene therapy that employs T cells genetically modified with a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) targeting CD19 for the treatment of B-cell malignancies, and he research has led to numerous pending and granted patents filed in the area of CAR technology and engineered T cell therapy, placing him consistently in the top 10 inventors in the area (Lyu L et al Nat Biotech 2020, PMID: 33273733). He is also a scientific co-founder of Cabaletta Bio (NASDAQ: CABA) and Verismo Therapeutics. Dr. Milone received his BS in Chemical Biology from Stevens Institute of Technology in 1993 and his MD and PhD in experimental pathology in 1999 from New Jersey Medical School and UMDNJ-Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. In addition to his active translational research program in T cell-based immunotherapy, Dr. Milone is a practicing clinical pathologist, and Associate Director of the Toxicology Laboratory at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Rick Monsma, Ph.D. (2023-2026)
Senior Vice President of Scientific Operation, New York Stem Cell Foundation
Rick Monsma is the Senior Vice President of Scientific Operations at the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Research Institute, and a molecular pharmacologist with extensive experience in cellular assay development to advance drug discovery. During his 20+ years of leadership in the pharmaceutical industry, he has managed a variety of teams and projects supporting all stages of preclinical drug discovery, including many efforts in neurological diseases. Dr. Monsma's research has made critical advancements in the identification, sequencing, and characterization of G-protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs), which are a large family of proteins representing the largest class of targets for FDA-approved drugs. Since joining the NYSCF Research Institute in 2017, he has managed the laboratories and daily operations, including strategic guidance for internal and collaborative research programs.
Oscar Puig, Ph.D. (2024-2027)
Vice President, Translational Medicine and Diagnostics, Nucleai
Oscar Puig currently holds the position of VP, Translational Medicine & Diagnostics at Nucleai, an AI-powered image analysis and biomarker development company. Prior to joining Nucleai, Oscar held leadership positions at BeiGene, Lilly, BMS, Roche, and Merck, with a focus on biomarkers and diagnostics in oncology clinical development. Oscar Puig holds a PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Valencia, Spain, and postdoctoral stages at EMBL, Germany and UC Berkeley, US.
Christina Puntiel '20, M.S. (2022-2025)
Quality Control Microbiologist, Cell Therapy Development and Operations, Bristol Myers Squibb
Christina Puntiel graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology in 2020 with a BS in Chemistry, and then a MS in Chemistry in 2021. She currently works as a Quality Control Microbiologist at Bristol Myers Squibb in their Cell Therapy Development and Operations organization. In addition, she works part-time at Stevens Institute of Technology as the Graduate Program Assistant for the Art Harper Saturday Academy, a precollege program dedicated to inspiring and preparing high school students to pursue post-secondary education and careers in STEM related fields. While at Stevens, she was heavily involved with the American Chemical Society, Chi Alpha Epsilon National Honor Society, Stevens Technical Enrichment Program, and the Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Christina is committed to giving back to her community and changing the lives of others through innovation.
Olivia Schreiber (2024-2027)
MD Candidate, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University
Olivia Schreiber is set to graduate from Cooper Medical School in 2024 with an MD and will be pursuing a residency in internal medicine. Prior to entering medical school, Olivia earned a MA in science writing through Johns Hopkins University’s Advanced Academic Programs while simultaneously working at BonBouton, a medical-device start-up company whose graphene technology emerged out of a Stevens lab. While at Stevens Institute of Technology, Olivia earned a BS in chemical biology and immersed herself in both campus life and scholarly activity. She has remained an active alumna, serving as both a Young Alumni Trustee and Appointed Voting Director of the Stevens Alumni Association between 2018 and 2020. She continues to serve as the 2018 Class President and looks forward to continuing her advocacy for the Chemistry and Chemical Biology program on the External Advisory Board.
Steven S. Toth, DMD (2024-2027)
Associate Professor, Rutgers School of Dental Medicine
Dr. Steven S. Toth earned a BS in Chemical Biology through the accelerated seven-year joint dental program with Stevens Institute of Technology in 2004 and went on to earn his DMD degree from Rutgers School of Dental Medicine in 2007. After graduation from dental school, he went on to practice at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine’s University Dental Center at Galloway, where he was appointed the Clinical Director of the Ryan White Program. Currently, Dr. Toth is Associate Professor in the Department of Diagnostic Sciences at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Toth has served as the Vice President of the RSDM Academic Assembly, Faculty Advisor, and has sat on the RSDM Admissions Committee.
Benjamin Tycko, M.D., Ph.D. (2021–2027)
Senior Scientist, Center for Discovery and Innovation and Co-Director of the Institute for Cancer and Infectious Disease, Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery & Innovation
Senior Scientist, Center for Discovery and Innovation and Co-Director of the Institute for Cancer and Infectious Disease, Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery & Innovation
Benjamin Tycko recently moved with his research group from Columbia University Medical Center to Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) and the HMH Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI) as a senior scientist in the Department of Biomedical Research, director of the Division of Genetics & Epigenetics, and co-director of co-director of the Institute for Cancer and Infectious Disease co-director of co-director of the Institute for Cancer and Infectious Disease. He is a member of the John Theurer Cancer Center (JTCC) at HUMC, and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC) of Georgetown University, where he co-directs the Molecular Oncology Program. Dr. Tycko graduated from Princeton University with a BA in 1979 and then from New York University School of Medicine with an MD and PhD in 1984. He did a residency and post-doctoral fellowship in Pathology at Stanford University, followed by a brief instructorship at Harvard University. He then joined Columbia University in 1991, where he directed a continuously NIH-funded research laboratory, progressing through the academic ranks to a professorship in the Department of Pathology & Cell Biology, which he held for the past decade before accepting the current position at HUMC. Dr. Tycko's research group has had a long-standing focus on understanding genetics and epigenetics in human development and disease, resulting in a total of more than 160 peer-reviewed publications. Current work in the Tycko laboratory includes: (i) the analysis of epigenomic effects that occur downstream of chromosomal aneuploidies, using trisomy 21 as a model system, (ii) combined genetic-epigenetic mapping as a “post-GWAS” approach to pinpoint functional genetic variants that underlie inter-individual differences in cancer risk, and (iii) studies on the mechanisms of epigenetically acting anti-cancer drugs in mouse models of cancer.
Adam Weinglass, Ph.D. (2022-2025)
Executive Director, Screening and Compound Profiling Department, Merck & Co.
Adam Weinglass has led the Screening & Compound Profiling Department since 2018. He drives the application of cutting-edge capabilities towards the identification and progression of small molecule, cyclic peptide and degrader chemical matter. Adam has also held positions of Director Automated Ligand Identification Systems (ALIS) & High-throughput Experimentation, Director of Cellular Pharmacology, Research Fellow (Diabetes) and Senior Research Biochemist (Ion Channels) since his hire to Merck in 2004. Prior to Merck, Adam was a Research Fellow of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of California Los Angeles, where he worked with Drs. Kaback, Faull & Whitelegge to explore the mechanism of action of molecular membrane transporters utilizing biochemical, biophysical & mass spectral approaches. Adam’s research has resulted in over 40 publications, reviews and U.S. patents. His discovery efforts have contributed towards several clinical candidates, research collaborations and state-of-the-art technologies. Adam received a 1st class BSc in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from the University of Leeds and a PhD from the same Department studying the over expression, purification and characterization of recombinant mammalian sugar transporters.