On behalf of the organic chemistry faculty at Illinois, I welcome your interest in our area. The field of organic chemistry has both a rich history and modern dynamism that seamlessly interfaces with biology, medicine, materials science, and a host of other fields. Although the field has indeed changed enormously in the past two decades, the core interest of the organic chemist remains unchanged. Thus, the efforts of students within the organic area are focused on the preparation and study of novel organic compounds, the understanding of structure and reactivity, and the development of entirely new reactions and processes. The modern manifestation of organic chemistry is the synthesis of function.
The breadth of organic chemistry today presents exciting new opportunities, but at the same time presents new challenges for graduate education. The organic faculty at Illinois have met this challenge by developing an innovative curriculum and program of study that is focused on fundamental disciplinary (core) knowledge, while providing the breadth of skills (e.g. speaking, writing, and creating thinking) and a body of information required for effective interdisciplinary research. Thus, our students receive research training in an integrated program that exposes them to a wide range of critical techniques, concepts, and methods that they will need to drive future advances in chemistry.
It is not surprising that the American Chemical Society has called the Department of Chemistry at Illinois "a major force in chemical education" in the U.S. Indeed, the National Research Council and U.S. News and World Report consistently rank Illinois near the top and among the most elite chemistry departments in the United States.
What makes Illinois Chemistry unique? Unquestionably, it is our tradition of collegiality. This tradition, fostered over decades, grows out of the atmosphere found throughout the labs and offices of the organic students and faculty. The outstanding esprit de corps among the organic graduate students is reflected in a strong sense of cooperation both within and between research groups. The organic faculty foster an "open door" policy that leads to a free flow of ideas which provides a stimulating and productive environment. Whether you come for a visit or choose to do your graduate work here you will immediately learn of our extraordinary service facilities, which include state-of-the-art NMR, MS and X-ray instruments and an in-house, same-day elemental analysis service. Likewise, we are the only Chemistry Department located within a School of Chemical Sciences (SCS). The SCS is closely allied with other departments and interdisciplinary facilities such as the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, The Institute for Genomic Biology, the Materials Research Laboratory, and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science. It is for these reasons that our department has for years served as a "gateway" to students pursuing academic and industrial careers in organic chemistry.
I hope you will join us in Urbana!
Prof. Scott E. Denmark
Area Head, Organic Chemistry
- Research in the laboratories of Paul Hergenrother and U of I biochemistry professor David Shapiro was the first to show that this compound can effectively target and kill certain cancer cells. It is now the subject of a new global licensing agreement between the pharmaceutical company Bayer AG and the cancer drug development company Systems Oncology LLC.
- Christina White's research into the "Holy Grail" of C—H activation is highlighted in Chemistry World seriesThe publication's series focusing on eight "Holy Grails" of chemistry explains how the White research group's work is one of a group of discoveries that has “contributed to a blossoming of the field of C–H activation.”
- Faculty member is one of 10 recipients of the national 2021 A.C. Cope Scholar Award and was also named the 2020 KYOTO Rising-Star Lectureship Award Winner.