Chemistry Enrollment, Research Enterprise Continues to Grow

With 218 graduate students Georgia Tech's School of Chemistry and Biochemistry this fall, the school now ranks as the 12th largest program in the country, officials said.

The school also boasts 55 new, first-year students this fall - its largest incoming class to date - and seven new research groups, each of which is producing more research opportunities for faculty and students than ever before at Georgia Tech.

"The recruitment within the school has been strong and successful for the past several years," Professor Thom Orlando, chair of the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry said. "Several peer schools have experienced a slight increase in enrollment, too, but not at the level that our school has."

Orlando said that the large increase in graduate and undergraduate enrollment indicates several things, including the rising prominence of the school in academic research circles. Much of that is due to the acquisition of new, senior faculty members in recent years.

"The students are the most important reason why the school exists, and their presence and efforts are what fuels the science we are all engaged in," Orlando said. " The number of students and their quality and success are the real indicators of our school's strength."

What's more is that the overall research portfolio of the school also is the strongest it has ever been, he said. It has grown into a broad and interdisciplinary research enterprise, with strengths in essentially all areas of chemistry plus rising disciplines such as materials science, nanoscience, biophysics and chemical physics.

"We therefore have a lot more to offer to prospective graduate students," Orlando said. "The size and friendliness of our school also is an attribute, since our success in terms of recruiting is rather high for students who come to the Institute for a visit prior to their final decision on which college to attend."

When they tour programs and meet faculty, prospective students have several new people to meet at the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry for 2003 and 2004. Among the new researchers and programs this year are:

* Professor Uwe Bunz, previously at the University of South Carolina, who studies synthetic organic chemistry plus polymer and materials science;

* Professor Joseph Perry, formerly at the University of Arizona, who is a physical chemist studying three-dimensional, nanoengineered assemblies plus organic electronic and photonic materials;

* Professor Seth Marder, who also was at the University of Arizona before coming to Atlanta. Marder is an organic chemist who studies the synthesis of novel organic materials for use in non-linear optics and photonics;

* Professor Jean-Luc Bredas, another former faculty member of the University of Arizona and a physical chemist. He and his research group -- winners of the 2003 Descartes Prize in Europe -- study the theory of carrier transport in polymer systems, plus the theoretical description of organic photonic and electronic devices;

* Professor Bridgette Barry, previously at the University of Minnesota, who is a biophysicist studying mechanisms of photosynthesis and charge transfer in biological media;

* Associate Professor Art Ragauskas, formerly a faculty member in the Institute of Paper Science and Technology at Georgia Tech, who works in the area of carbohydrate chemistry as it relates to the paper industry. He is also active in biofuels and bioenzyme catalysis;

* And Assistant Professor Facundo Fernandez, an analytical chemist who examines the develops novel mass spectrometry methods that can be used for disease detection.