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Chemistry and Biochemistry

Stephenson Life Sciences Research Center building exterior

OU Chemistry & Biochemistry

John W. Peters

Welcome from the Chair

It is with excitement and enthusiasm that I welcome you to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Oklahoma. We invite you to accept the challenge of becoming an agent for positive change in the 21st century. As our nation and world struggle with a multitude of problems ranging from growing energy needs to human health and welfare in a shifting climate, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is taking a leading role in the discovery and development of new approaches to improve the human condition. With 35 faculty representing diverse areas of expertise in the chemical and biochemical sciences, our department is interested in educating and training the best and brightest future leaders of tomorrow’s academic, industrial and government institutions.

Supporting this effort, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry moved in the summer of 2010 to the 160,000-square-foot Stephenson Life Sciences Research Center. More than 110 graduate student and postdoctoral researchers work side-by-side with faculty in a highly interactive environment to solve some of the most pressing challenges of our time. The Stephenson Life Sciences Research Center was created with an eye toward further growth, with several new faculty from cutting-edge disciplines expected to join our team during the next few years. The center is home to several major core facilities and research support services, including mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction facilities.

Our faculty are among the top-funded researchers at OU, with numerous external research grants and contracts. Nine of our faculty hold distinguished or endowed professorships and 12 have received awards for excellence in teaching and/or research. The faculty are committed to offering new cross-disciplinary courses for our students. The department encourages undergraduate students to get started in research early and graduate students to develop personalized research programs that cut across traditional barriers in the chemical sciences. For example, a student can opt to study biochemistry, conduct research in an organic chemistry laboratory and attend regular meetings in the analytical sciences. Our faculty work closely with each student to tailor a graduate program that specifically suits his or her needs and interests.

I encourage you to explore our department, who we are, what we do, and what you can accomplish here. All of us in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry look forward to answering any questions you may have about where we are going and how you can contribute to becoming an agent for positive change. This is an exciting time for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and I am honored to serve as its chair.


John W. Peters
Associates Second Century Presidential Professor
Department Chair 

Our Mission

The mission of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is to instruct students and provide expert advice to academic, industrial and government institutions on the role of chemistry and biochemistry in the natural world.

$80 M

value of the Stephenson Life Sciences Research Center


square-feet in the Stephenson Life Sciences Research Center


full-time faculty 


years to complete Ph.D. (National Average: 6.7 years)

Department News

Nathan Colwell and Joel Langford holding awards with Dr. John Peters

2024 Chemistry & Biochemistry Spring Awards Banquet
April 12, 2024

The department's annual award banquet was held in the Molly Shi Boren Ballroom on Tuesday, April 9, 2024. Undergraduate and graduate students, who were nominated by faculty members, were presented with awards based on their Graduate Teaching Assistant skills, and outstanding scholarly and research activity. The Society of Chemical and Biochemical Researchers, the department's student organization, also presented awards that were peer-voted.

See the list of 2023-2024 winners2024 Chemistry & Biochemistry Spring Awards Banquet

Laura Clifford

Laura Clifford, Ph.D. Promoted
April 09, 2024

The department would like to congratulate Laura Clifford, Ph. D., on her recent promotion to Associate Professor. Dr. Clifford earned her Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 2002 and joined the faculty at OU in 2005. During her time here, she has taught over 14,000 students and is currently the Coordinator for General Chemistry. She has served on many committees and was awarded the General Education Teaching Award from the University of Oklahoma in 2023. Congratulations, Dr. Clifford!

Read moreLaura Clifford, Ph.D. Promoted

Portrait of Helen Zgurskaya, Ph.D.

Dr. Helen Zgurskaya Elected as a New Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology
March 04, 2024

Dr. Helen Zgurskaya has been elected as a new fellow to the class of 2024 American Academy of Microbiology. She is one of 65 accomplished scientists worldwide to be elected this year. Inductees are chosen through a peer-review process based on their achievements and contributions to the Microbiology Field. Dr. Zgurskaya began her career with the University of Oklahoma in 2000. She is a founding Center for Antibiotic Discovery and Resistance member at the University of Oklahoma, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. In her esteemed career, she has published over 100 papers, written several book chapters, and co-edited a book.

Read moreDr. Helen Zgurskaya Elected as a New Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology

More About OU Chemistry & Biochemistry

Explore our undergraduate majors, courses offered and research opportunities.


Learn more about our graduate program, courses offered and financial assistance.


Explore our research areas, facilities, support services and centers. 



People, Resources and Seminars

Learn more about our faculty, staff, postdocs and graduate students. 



Explore our list of resources for faculty, staff and students.



Interested in attending a seminar? Explore upcoming and past seminars hosted by the department. 


Ready to Get Started? 

Browse our research areas, faculty pages and the degrees we offer to see where you can find a home here in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.

Research Areas


Divisions within the areas of chemistry and biochemistry are used at OU to organize teaching assignments, course requirements and degree candidacy requirements. There are seven divisions at OU: Analytical, Biochemistry, Inorganic, Materials, Organic, Physical Chemistry and Structural Biology.






Our outstanding and award-winning faculty contribute to the development of new scientific understanding and training of our students and professional research associates.






Degrees Offered


The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry offers degrees for both undergraduates and graduates, including a Chemistry minor, Chemistry and Biochemistry B.S., Chemistry B.S., Biochemistry B.S. and Chemical Biosciences B.S., as well as M.S. and Ph.D degrees.




Support OU Chemistry & Biochemistry


We are grateful to our strong network of supporters. Your support allows our undergraduate and grauate students the opportunity to excel in research and in the classroom alongside our dedicated faculty. For information on how you can contribute efforts or resources to the department, please visit our Support page. 



Student pipetting in a lab