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Department of

Chemistry & Biochemistry

Faculty & Staff


The Njoo research group studies the applications of organic and physical organic chemistry in the context of the synthesis of molecules that have relevance in biological and biomedical applications. This is accomplished through chemical synthesis, computational modeling, and chemical biology.  Our research interests include green methodology towards complex natural product synthesis, design and construction of colorimetric substrates, and small molecule therapeutics to target antibiotic resistant bacteria, HIV, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Organic Chemistry, Chemical Biology

Chairperson, Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physical Science

Edward Njoo

Dr. McMahan's research group employs computational methods, including Hartree-Fock, Moller-Plesset perturbation theory, and density functional theory in understanding the quantum mechanical basis of photophysical phenomena. Dr. McMahan has a joint appointment in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering.

Quantum Physics, Theoretical Chemistry

Larry McMahan


The Brah lab investigates protein-ligand interactions and behavior of biological macromolecules through both computational methods, including ligand-protein docking, density functional theory, and high-resolution molecular dynamics simulations. The research in the Brah group is focused on issues of modern relevance in medicine from the perspective of biochemistry. Current targets include DNA G-quadruplex assemblies and signal transduction pathways in cancer cells.

Biochemistry & Chemical Biology

Harman Brah


The Patel group performs research in the area of physical and inorganic chemistry, using spectroscopy and electrochemical methods to characterize and engineer materials that have unique properties towards applications in catalysis, electronics, and nanotechnology.

Physical Chemistry, Electrochemistry, Materials Science

Nilai Patel

The Agrawal group's research straddles chemistry and materials science; the focus of their work centers around green polymers, metallurgical engineering, artificial photosynthesis, solar energy, and green chemical engineering towards addressing the world's need for renewable and clean energy. 

Materials Science, Metallurgical Engineering

Mahesh Agrawal


Gayathri is an experienced medicinal biochemist interested in pushing forwards the frontiers of molecular medicine. The Ranganathan research group applies small molecule synthesis in a robust drug discovery platform towards understanding the molecular mechanisms of human disease. Additionally, the group uses a variety of biophysical computational tools to understand the interaction of small molecules with their protein targets.

Medicinal Chemistry, Biochemistry

Gayathri Renganathan


Dr. Gandhi's research group is interested in understanding the role of molecules from nature in providing therapeutic leads with clinical impact.

Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry

Kavita Gandhi

Facilities & Instrumentation

Our NMR spectrometer is used for characterization of small molecules. Our instrument is the only NMR in the U.S. dedicated for use by high school students and is capable of 1H, homonuclear COSY, and nutation experiments. 

Nanalysis NMReady 60 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectrometer

ASDRP operates six research grade UV-vis spectrophotometers; this one is capable of high-resolution absorbance measurements, time-resolved kinetics, and stray wavelength precision down to a tenth of a nanometer.

Perkin Elmer Lambda 11 UV-visible spectrophotometer

One of our two polarimeters, this instrument is capable of measuring optical rotation of plane-polarized light by chiral compounds. Our chemists and biochemists use this to study chirality in macromolecular structure and enantiopure small molecules.

Rudolph Instruments Optical Polarimeter

Rotary evaporators are used by chemists in the gentle removal of volatile solvents under reduced pressure in the purification process of small molecules. Our chemistry laboratory has four rotary evaportators (Buchi) equipped with two-stage rotary vacuum pumps.

Rotary Evaporators - a.k.a. "Rotavap"

One of three 96-well plate readers, this instrument is designed to provide rapid screening of colorimetric optical reporters, allowing our scientists to probe hundreds of conditions for biological activity in just minutes. 

Thermo Labsystems Multiskan MS Plate Reader

Our MicroQuant instrument is capable of both fluorescence and absorbance experiments, enabling the rapid collection of large amounts of spectroscopic data for high-throughput screening of biomolecules.

BioTek MicroQuant Fluorescence Plate Reader

Our IntelliFlash system is used for purification of compounds out of complex reaction mixtures. It uses disposable silica gel normal phase or reverse phase chromatography columns with a built-in UV detector to track elution of UV-active compounds.

Analogix IntelliFlash 280 Automated Chromatography

Our Hoefer florometer is built to measure extremely low concentrations of DNA by using a UV lamp to track fluoresence of DNA nucleotide bases. This is useful for biochemists seeking to quantify DNA concentration.

Hoefer Scientific DNA Fluorometer

Our Opsys MR microplate reader is built in with functions for biochemical quantification and for high-throughput screening of fluorescent optical reporters. 

Dynex Opsys MR Microplate Reader

Our biosciences lab has two laminar flow hoods, which are designed to maintain a sterile environment and keep contaminants out of cell cultures and cell lines. 

Laminar Flow Hoods

The FT-IR spectrometer is equipped with an iD5 attenuated total reflectance (ATR) sample assembly, and is used for vibrational spectroscopy to characterize molecules and materials. IR spectra capture bond vibrational modes.

Thermo Scientific Nicolet iS5 Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) Spectrometer

ASDRP operates six research-grade UV-vis spectrophotometers. Our BioRad instrument is capable of time-resolved kinetics, full differential scan analysis, and quantification of biological macromolecules such as DNA and protein

BioRad SmartSpec 3000 UV-visible spectrophotometer

Our two servers are industry grade Dell Poweredge machines equipped with 48 core Xeon processors, 64 GB RAM, and 10 TB memory. This is used for powerful computing capabilities, ranging from quantum mechanical calculations to time-resolved molecular dynamics simlulations.

High-Throughput Computing Server & Cluster

Sometimes, de-ionized water simply isn't good enough! Our MilliQ Water purification systems makes sure that the aqueous environments our biochemists use to study proteins and nucleic acids meet the highest level of quality control, with filters to remove even trace impurities.

Millipore MilliQ Ultra High Purity Water System

Chemistry sometimes generates fumes and volatiles that are best to keep away from our student scientists. We have six heavy-duty synthesis fume hoods which duct air away from experimentalists. Three are equipped with carbon filters to remove volatiles from the air.

Synthesis Fume Hoods

Our research-grade PAR potentiostat is used for cyclic voltammetry experiments, and allows chemists and physicists to probe redox states of particles in solution and to characterize metal ion oxidation states.

Princeton Applied Research Scanning Potentiostat

Our physicists and engineers use our industry-grade laser cutter to build custom-shaped and custom-sized components out of any material imaginable. The instrument uses a high-power laser to carve contours out of material.

3-dimensional Laser Cutter

To create super-sterile equipment and solutions, our biologists and biochemists use this autoclave to superheat solutions to temperatures upwards of 300 degrees and pressures up to 3,100 torr. 

Pelton & Crane High-Pressure Autoclave

Melting point is often used to determine the purity of a substance, and our melting point apparatus is used by extraction chemists to determine if there are impurities in their material.

Bausch and Lomb Melting Point Apparatus

We have two twin instruments that are capable of measuring single wavelength absorbances at a range from 350 nm to 1150 nm. This can be used to monitor reaction kinetics, or to obtain specific absorbances along an absorption profile of a substance. 

721 UV-visible-near infrared spectrophotometers