The Department of Chemistry emphasizes the importance of research at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and offers summer employment opportunities for students.

All faculty members are actively engaged in research, providing opportunities for students to learn and grow outside of the traditional classroom. Descriptions of individual research projects of faculty members can be found in our faculty directory.

Grant-Funded Research Areas

USD Neuroscience and Nanotechnology Network

The USD Neuroscience and Nanotechnology Network (USD-N3) program is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation research traineeship program. This grant provides training in the development of novel nanotechnology-derived tools aimed at both understanding and treating disorders of the brain. The program will also provide professional development opportunities that prepare students for both academic and non-academic career paths in STEM professions. Eligible students receive tuition and an annual stipend of $34,000 for up to two years during training. Support for research and travel is also available. Contact for more information.

Center for Fluorinated Functional Materials

The Center for Fluorinated Functional Materials (CFFM) is supported by the South Dakota Research and Commercialization Council. It is a five-year, $2.7 million grant awarded to the Department of Chemistry to work on the discovery and commercialization of new fluorinated functional materials. Its research activities include:

  • Fluorinated organic semiconductor materials for next generation flexible electronics
  • Fluorinated materials for high capacity batteries
  • Fluorinated macromolecules and nanomaterials for sensing
  • Fluorinated photonic materials for security printing and biomedical imaging
  • Catalytic fluorination
  • High-value fluorinated fine chemicals

CFFM supports both cutting-edge researches and workforce development. Contact for more information.

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU): Undergraduate Research in Fluorine Chemistry

In collaboration with the Center for Fluorinated Functional Materials (CFFM), this program supports six intensive summer research experiences for undergraduate students in the department of Chemistry at the University of South Dakota that focuses on research related to fluorine chemistry. CFFM also provides six undergraduate research stipends for a total of twelve participants. This NSF award (CHE-1757652) also provides a living allowance, research support and travel to a regional and/or national fluorine conference for undergraduate participants. Research projects relate to: the synthesis of fluorinated monomers used in luminescence sensors and electronic devices; inorganic doped lanthanum fluoride upconversion nanoparticles for forensic applications; electrochemical deposition of fluorine monomers for battery technology; Fluorine-carbon bond activation and catalysis; analytical SERS detection of agrochemicals; and computational fluorine chemistry.

Surface Engineering Research Center

The Surface Engineering Research Center is a state-funded research collaborative under the theme of surface engineering, and is focused on developing advanced surface treatment and coating technologies through interdisciplinary collaborative research. Research activities are focused on biomedical, energy, environment and defense applications. Contact for more information.

Research on Metal-Organic Super Containers

Research in the area of metal-organic super containers has multiple applications, including gas separation, catalysis, ion sensing (especially electrochemical sensing) and neurotransmitter regulation. This project is funded by NSF CAREER and another NSF grant, DMR-1709912. Students working on this project will be exposed to a variety of concepts and experimental techniques, such as:

  • Organic and supramolecular synthesis
  • Spectroscopic titrations
  • X-ray crystallography
  • Electrochemistry
  • Neurobiology

Contact for more information.

Center for Security Printing and Anti-Counterfeiting Technology

The Center for Security Printing and Anti-Counterfeiting Technology (SPACT) was established in December 2014 by researchers from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, South Dakota State University and USD to develop research solutions to thwart counterfeiting. SPACT's research at USD includes security inks with upconversion nanoparticles and anti-counterfeiting nanomaterials with surface-enhanced Raman scattering tags. Contact for more information.

Composite and Nanocomposite Advanced Manufacturing Center

The Composite and Nanocomposite Advanced Manufacturing Center (CNAM) launched in September 2013. It is focused on meeting the urgent commercial need for strong, lightweight multifunctional composites and nano-composites at high volume and low cost. Funded through a five-year award from the South Dakota Governor’s Office and the participation of a consortium of leading corporations, CNAM is poised to develop and rapidly commercialize new, advanced manufacturing techniques for high-performance composites with applications in automotive, construction, aerospace and energy. Contact for more information.

Equipment and Facilities

Extensive state-of-the-art research equipment is accessible to all students engaged in research projects with faculty and staff. The campus shares a high performance computing cluster for computational work and, through the University Libraries, students have access to numerous online databases and most full-text journals in chemistry.

  • Atomic Absorption Spectrometer
  • Atomic Force Microscope
  • Clean Room Facility
  • Elemental Analyzer (CHNS analysis)
  • Electrochemical Instruments
  • Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer
  • Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometers
  • Glove Boxes
  • Langmuir-Blodgett Trough
  • Lasers - Nitrogen/dye YAG lasers, Nd: YAG/Optical
  • Parametric Oscillator (OPO)
  • Liquid Chromatographs (LC) and LC-Mass Spectrometers
  • NMR instrument (1H and 13C) – 200 MHz and 400 MHz
  • Physisorption and Chemisorption Instruments
  • Scanning Confocal Raman microscope and spectroscope
  • Scanning Electron Microscope with EDX
  • Solvent Drye
  • Spectrofluorimeters
  • Spin Coaters
  • Transmission Electron Microscope
  • UV-VIS Spectrophotometers and Integrating Sphere UV-Vis spectrophotometer
  • UV-Vis-NIR Hyperspectral Microscope
  • X-ray diffractometer (both Single Crystal and Powder)