Chemistry Students

Chemistry is the science that studies matter, the stuff of which all things are made. Chemists study the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter on the molecular scale and larger. Chemists also discover and synthesize entirely new materials. Modern chemistry touches many other fields of science, engineering, and medicine. Chemistry will continue to provide critical solutions to intellectually exciting and societally important problems.



Chemistry Illustration

The Department is the home of two research centers: the UW Molecular Engineering Materials Center (MEM-C) and the South Asia International Center of Excellence for Malaria Research (South Asia ICEMR).

Chemistry is also a key department in several campus initiatives which support fellowships, travel awards, unique research facilities, and broader educational and professional opportunities for Chemistry students, faculty, and postdoctoral scholars, such as the UW Clean Energy Institute (CEI), the UW Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute (MolES), and the joint UW-PNNL Northwest Institute for Materials Physics, Chemistry and Technology (NW IMPACT).

Faculty research highlights include:

  • Design of the world’s most sensitive calorimeter for measuring the strength of chemical bonding on surfaces, then applied to clarify numerous surface chemical reactions of importance in catalysis and microelectronics fabrication.
  • Development of a mass spectrometry technique for newborn screening of lysosomal storage diseases, which is being used in newborn screening labs worldwide.
  • A new fundamental understanding of metal-mediated oxidation reactions, processes that play important roles from biological chemistry to large-scale industrial production.

Areas of Research

  • Analytical chemistry
  • B​​ioanalytical chemistry
  • Bioinorganic chemistry
  • Bioorganic chemistry
  • Biophysical chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Chemical biology
  • Clean energy
  • Computational chemistry
  • Electronic spectroscopy
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Laser spectroscopy
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Materials chemistry
  • Nanotechnology
  • NMR spectroscopy
  • Opto-electronics
  • Organic chemistry
  • Organic materials
  • Organic synthesis
  • Organometallic chemistry
  • Photonics
  • Physical chemistry
  • Polymers
  • Surface science
  • Theoretical chemistry


Undergraduate majors


The Department of Chemistry runs the largest chemistry and biochemistry undergraduate degree program in the nation. The Department also offers a chemistry minor, and master’s and Ph.D. degrees, and beginning in autumn 2020, a master’s in applied chemical science & technology.

The Department serves many non-majors, with more than 3,000 undergraduates taking at least one introductory chemistry course annually. It has the largest undergraduate instructional laboratory program at the UW.

Many of our undergraduate majors enrich their educational experience through participation in undergraduate research with our faculty.


Autumn 2019

  • 900 Undergraduate majors
  • 230 Graduate students
  • 55 Postdoctoral scholars

Degrees Awarded

Sept. 2018 - August 2019

  • 400 Bachelor's degrees
  • 30 PhD degrees

Major Student Awards

since 2014

  • A&S Dean’s Medal in the Sciences
  • A&S Graduate Medal in the Natural Sciences
  • Amgen Scholar
  • Bonderman Travel Fellowship
  • DAAD German Graduate Study Scholarship, German Academic Exchange Service
  • Goldwater Scholarships
  • Husky 100
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowships
  • UW Excellence in Teaching Award
  • UW Gonfaloniere
  • UW Libraries Student Employee Scholarship
  • UW Junior Medal
  • UW President’s Medals
  • UWAA Homecoming Scholarship


The Department of Chemistry has 45 faculty who have received numerous awards from a wide variety of organizations.

Faculty honors include:

  • AAAS Fellows
  • American Academy of Arts & Sciences
  • ACS National Awards
  • ACS Fellows
  • Beckman Young Investigator Award
  • Cottrell Scholars awards
  • Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards
  • Guggenheim Fellowships
  • Kavli Microbiome Award
  • Keck Distinguished Young Scholar
  • National Academy of Sciences
  • National Medal of Science
  • NSF CAREER Awards
  • NSF Special Creativity Awards
  • Packard Fellowships
  • Pauling Medal
  • PECASE Awards
  • Searle Scholar
  • Sloan Fellowships
  • UW Distinguished Teaching Awards
  • UW Faculty Lecture
  • UW Innovation Award
  • UW Presidential Entrepreneurial Fellow
  • Washington State Academy of Sciences


Chemistry Students in Classroom

A student wishing to study and undertake cutting-edge research in chemistry in the Pacific Northwest has but a small number of options. UW Chemistry is the premier choice. Fortunately we are a public institution that charges students a relatively modest tuition. Providing an education in chemistry to these students is extremely expensive. We are increasingly reliant upon private support to maintain our high-quality educational and research programs. Please contact us if you are interested in making a contribution in support of our programs.

Annual Fund gifts to our “Friends of Chemistry” account are used to meet a wide variety of needs for which state-derived funding is unavailable. Examples include support for our undergraduate and graduate student organizations; awards to students, researchers, staff, and faculty; and department-wide events such as our annual graduation ceremony.

Endowed funds provide partial support for virtually all of the department’s activities. These include undergraduate and graduate scholarships and awards, and faculty support that helps us retain talented faculty being sought by other universities. While we invest the vast majority of endowment-derived funds in our students and faculty, the relative urgency of the need in these areas shifts over time. For this reason, the most beneficial endowments are those that can be spent at the discretion of the chair of the Department to support any of these needs.


Department of Chemistry
Box 351700
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-1610


last update: December 2019