Our research spans many traditional and emerging disciplines of chemistry and biochemistry, with noteworthy focuses on chemical biology and biophysics, catalysis, natural products, metabolomics, computational chemistry, and biochemical structure and mechanism.

LABS & Groups

Our labs and groups form the foundation of our research efforts, where our faculty members work with a number of community and industry partners to advance knowledge and provide hands-on research and learning opportunities for students

Plants produce hundreds of thousands of distinct small-molecule natural products, many of which are invaluable nutrients, commodity products, and therapeutics.

At the heart of the beautiful Okanagan Valley, Dang Group integrates biochemistry, chemistry, bioinformatics, and molecular genetics to elucidate and engineer the biosynthesis of valuable small molecules from medicinal plants. Our ultimate aim is to learn and to translate natural metabolism into innovative biotechnologies to meet the ever-increasing demands of high-value chemicals.

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Noncovalent interactions play a central role in determining structure and reactivity throughout chemistry and physics. Our group develops and applies computational methods to understand this role.

We also use computational chemistry techniques to study a wide variety of radical systems in chemistry, biochemistry and physics. Our current research focuses on quantum effects in enzymes that mediate radical rearrangement processes and on the potential for non-redox metal cations to act as a chemoprotective against radical damage through hydrogen atom transfer reactions.

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The group aims to make impactful contributions to worldwide efforts in developing affordable clean energy. Our main focus is understanding the photophysical and photochemical processes that dictate efficiency in solar fuel producing systems. Our advanced time-resolved optical spectroscopy techniques give us the insights necessary to understand the influence of key physical and chemical parameters, and optimize material synthesis with strong rational.

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We study the biophysics of cells at the single molecule and single cell levels. Our studies address fundamental cell biology questions that have many practical applications from smart DNA-based biomaterials to cell screening technology.

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The McNeil Research Group conducts chemistry education research by using our classrooms as our laboratories. We study the challenges associated with teaching and learning university-level chemistry and develop innovative learning strategies to address those challenges.

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The Menard lab works at the interface between chemistry and biology. We use small molecules to study and manipulate biological systems. The group provides a multidisciplinary environment where students and researchers work together to develop new chemical and biophysical tools for the study of living systems.

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PlantSMART investigates the chemicals produced by plants and how plant chemicals affect human health. Research themes include: chemistry of cannabis and other medicinal plants; plant chemistry for food security; chemistry of natural non-protein amino acids; chemical regulation of plant signalling behaviour; chemistry of plant responses to light.

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Our lab focuses on describing the chemistry of medicinal plants and bacteria to investigate the chemical differences between species and samples. This is used to discover biological activities, optimize natural health product formulation, identify adulterated products, and classify species by their chemistry.

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Earth-abundant transition metal catalysts that operate under mild conditions will be required for valorization of renewable resources and more sustainable organic synthesis. The Smith research group has explored metal-mediated radical reactions based on reversible homolysis of chromium-alkyl bonds in well-defined organometallic complexes.

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Enzymes are large macromolecules that serve as biological catalysts for an immense number of biochemical reactions. We explore how enzymes can serve as valuable tools for the synthesis of new drugs and other high commodity chemicals, and also lead to the treatment of diseases, including bacterial infections, cancer, and metabolic disorders.

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A key objective of our lab is to combine capillary electrophoresis (CE) and mass spectrometry (MS) into a sensitive and high resolution method for glycan analysis. As a complement to the development of improved hyphenated analytical methods, we are also interested in devising more efficient sample preparation techniques. We also explore the roles played by glycans in diverse biological phenomena. Our lab members: investigate the effects of known chemical inhibitors of glycan processing enzymes; synthesize and test new inhibitors; devise assays to explore the functions of glycan biosynthetic enzymes; develop new methods for identifying glycan-binding proteins and their target.

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Research Themes

Advanced Microscopy & Spectroscopy

Chemistry

Biochemistry & Biophysics

Chemistry

Catalysis and Green Chemistry

Chemistry

Exosome Biology & Liquid Biopsy

Chemistry, Engineering, Health Sciences

Glycobiology and Glycomics

Chemistry, Biology

Neural Chemical Biology & Mechano-Biology

Chemistry, Engineering

Plant & Natural Product

Chemistry, Biology

Solar Energy Storage

Chemistry, Engineering

Theoretical & Computational Chemistry

Chemistry, Engineering

Opportunities for Undergraduate Students

The Department of Chemistry offers many opportunities for undergraduate students to gain valuable research experience. You can participate in research either as a volunteer research assistant, or through Directed Studies and/or Honours opportunities. Explore your options below.

The opportunity: Get experience helping faculty members, graduate students, or a mixture of the two, with their research projects. This is a non-paid, non-credit based opportunity that will give you the chance to participate in various elements of conducting research. The duties and length of the opportunity are determined by the supervising faculty member.

Prerequisites: Typically, no experience is required, but some research labs may require students to have previous research experience. Some opportunities may also require the completion of certain courses prior to volunteering. Consult your program advisor or a faculty member for more information.

The opportunity: Carry out your own research project under the supervision of a faculty member in chemistry or biochemistry and molecular biology. You can earn three or six credits, depending upon the project.

Prerequisites: Varies by program. Refer to the Academic Calendar or consult your program advisor or a faculty member for more information.

The opportunity: Investigate a research problem under the supervision of a faculty member. You will be involved in all aspects of the research process, such as research design, data collection, and data analysis. Presenting findings is another key component of research, and this option requires completion of a written report, a public poster presentation, and a public thesis defence.

Completion of the undergraduate honours thesis contributes six credits towards your degree, but does not guarantee an honours distinction. To receive the honours distinction, you will also need to satisfy all of the graduation requirements.

Prerequisites: Fourth-year standing, a minimum average of 76% in all courses taken related to the major, a research supervisor, and approval of the Chemistry Curriculum Committee. Consult your program advisor or a faculty member for more information.

Awards for Undergraduate Students

The Department of Chemistry and the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science offer a number of awards to support exceptional research experiences for students at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

The Undergraduate Research Awards (URA), NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA), as well as other awards available through the department, all provide opportunities for undergraduate students to pursue innovative and original research as part of their learning experience.

Our Partners and Donors

Together, we are making a difference, locally and around the world. Our partners and donors allow us to carry out our mission of helping the community, making advancements in psychological research, and providing quality education in the field of psychology.

If you are interested in becoming a partner or donor, we would love to hear from you.