Department of Chemistry

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About the Department

The Department of Chemistry at Case Western Reserve University continues the strong traditions in this branch of science inherited from Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology. The department presently comprises 21 faculty members, 16 associated faculty, about 14 postdoctoral associates, approximately 90 graduate students, and over 150 undergraduate students majoring in chemistry, with supporting technical, administrative and secretarial staffs. Both the graduate and undergraduate student bodies come from all regions of the United States and a number of foreign countries. The Agnar Pytte Science Center houses the Chemistry Department (see Campus Map). This state-of-the-art research and teaching complex unites two totally renovated older buildings with Clapp Hall, all tied together with a spectacular glassed-in atrium. Chemistry and Biology share this complex, which combines modern research labs, teaching labs, lecture halls, classrooms and offices in a modern complex which is architecturally distinguished as well as being a great place to work. The departments and research centers of science, engineering, and medicine are all conveniently close together. The Department of Chemistry stands at the center of a broad range of cooperative activities in chemical science at Case Western Reserve University involving numerous additional departments.

Research Facilities

The Department of Chemistry possesses a large array of routine and specialized instrumentation present within the individual research groups, including UV-VIS and IR spectrophotometry, polarimetry, high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), and gas-liquid chromatography (GLC). Most of the major instruments are concentrated in the following facilities.

Technical Staff

Department instrumentation is exceptionally well-maintained through the combined skills of several persons expert in the operation, maintenance, and improvement of modern research instrumentation. One technician specializes in operation and maintenance of superconducting NMR equipment and in training of graduate students for full use of these complex instruments. Mass spectroscopy and FTIR are a primary responsibility of another technician. Still another staff member manages the chemistry stockroom. Department computing facilities are maintained by our laboratory manager. Shop facilities are also available, including machining and construction.

Frank Hovorka Information Center

Established in 1985 in honor of the late emeritus professor of physical chemistry, this facility is the core of the department’s computational resources. A VAX cluster and Silicon Graphics Iris Indigo provide users with a wide range of software and molecular modeling applications, including the imaging and manipulation of three-dimensional structures, and use of quantum and molecular mechanics calculations. The center also houses several graphics terminals, 486 and Pentium PC’s, and Apple Macintosh computers. Two SUN SPARCstations and a second Indigo are also available within the department for general use. Many of the Chemistry Departments major analytical instruments are networked with these workstations along with computers in individual faculty research areas, thereby permitting complex interactive projects. The Chemistry Department’s computers are part of the campus-wide communications network, CWRUnet, making all of the University s information resources readily available to the individual user. E-mail, the University’s on-line library catalog, and libraries at other academic and public institutions throughout the world are easily accessible. This high-capacity, fiber-optic based network has the capability of carrying enormous amounts of information, including data, voice, and video. Services currently provided through CWRUnet include the Universitys software library servers , CD-ROM databases, and full access to the Internet from the desktop. Connections to off-site databases, such as STN, and the Cray X-MP/24 and Y-MP/832 Supercomputers at the Ohio Supercomputer Center are also available for Chemistry Department use.


The Department of Chemistry draws on an exceptional complex of science libraries on the Case Western Reserve University campus, all within a few minutes walking distance from Millis Science Center. The magnificent Kelvin Smith Library is thoroughly modern in all aspects. Occupying 1444,000 square feet, it houses over one million volumes and will provide most major science and engineering journals. Each of the 900 seats has connections to the fiber optic network, CWRUNet, and there will be 48 assigned graduate student carousels. It will provide access to one of the largest collections of electronic information in the world and will have high speed printing capabilities for books stored in electronic form. Life-science literature is available through the University’s Health Center Library located within the newer east wing of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the more clinically oriented journals and monographs are located in Allen Memorial Library. The University Libraries are also tied into an efficient interlibrary loan network for access to rare journals and monographs. The older chemistry journals and a large collection of texts and monographs are located on the second floor of Millis Science Center, adjoining the Frank Hovorka Information Center. More specialized libraries are maintained in each of the science departments on campus. In addition, the science section of the outstanding Cleveland Public Library is available and a convenient resource. Most research faculty in the Chemistry Department maintain user subscriptions to the Chemical Abstracts System ONLINE, which permits individuals to conduct extensive computer searches of the chemical literature directly from terminals located within individual research groups. The Sears Library has access to numerous additional science and engineering on-line databases.

Colloquia and Seminars

The Department of Chemistry sponsors a rich program of colloquia and seminars on recent advances in chemical research. Most notable among these is the Frontiers in Chemistry lecture series presented throughout each academic year, in which scientists of international distinction lecture on major achievements in chemistry. The department also sponsors a weekly colloquium series, providing invited speakers from a variety of institutions on a range of current research topics. Both of these programs are addressed to the general audience of faculty members, students, and other chemical scientists in the University and Cleveland area. They afford a vital means for the discussion of new research findings in advance of printed publication. Numerous regular and relatively informal seminars are also held within and among research groups to exchange and evaluate new information in specialized areas.

Page last modified: February 26, 2016