California State University, Long Beach Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Home

Department Mission & Profile

Our Department is committed to rigorous and innovative curriculum that focuses on developing problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication skills, and provides high quality education in chemistry and biochemistry. We offer a B.S. Chemistry degree program, which is accredited by the American Chemical Society; a B.A. Chemistry program for those with broad or interdisiplinary interests; a B.S. Biochemistry degree that is accredited by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; a B.A. Biochemistry program (coming soon!) for those planning to enter the medical or health professions; and a research-intensive graduate program leading to M.S. Chemistry and M.S. Biochemistry degrees. Our award-winning faculty are vigorously involved in research with undergraduate and graduate students alike, and receive significant external grants and contracts annually. Our Department offers extensive opportunities for students to participate in novel research projects across a broad spectrum of areas in the chemical sciences. Our modern facilities are housed in the recently-built Molecular Life Sciences Center and our new Hall of Science. For further information, please contact our Department office or our academic advisors.

Dept Faculty 2016-17

A renaissance in analytical chemistry


The analytical chemistry business is growing rapidly, but academia struggles to keep up in educating new generations of analytical chemists. In addition, university curricula are often outdated, failing to reflect the current needs of industry. Prof. Kasha Slowinska at CSULB is a part of the initiative lead by Prof. Thomas Wenzel (Bates College), funded by National Science Foundation, to improve the training of students in analytical chemistry and to contemporize methods of teaching analytical chemistry following a "how to think, not just how to operate [instrumentation]" mindset. The full feature article, "Industry & academia rethink analytical chemistry", can be viewed in the June 5, 2017 issue of Chemical & Engineering News.

Integrating synthetic, bioanalytical, and computational approaches to drug design

BChE Collab Pub

With its origins from a casual hallway conversation between Profs. Roger Acey and Kensaku Nakayama some years ago, these two began a collaboration focused on examining the development of inhibitors that targeted butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) at a time when researchers were largely focused on inhibiting acetylcholinesterase (AChE) to treat cognitive loss among patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease (AD). Profs. Acey & Nakayama soon realized that simple structural modifications to organophosphorus inhibitors could greatly enhance the selectivity of BChE inhibition over that of AChE. These early observations encouraged their collaboration to search for more effective organophosphorus inhibitors, leading to their initial collaborative publication in 2007.
      Soon thereafter, Prof. Eric Sorin was enlisted to complement the synthetic and biochemical methods being employed with computer-based modeling and, more recently, this collaboration expanded to include Prof. Jason Schwans. The Nakayama, Schwans, and Sorin labs recently published their first collaborative article, "Synthesis, biochemical evaluation, and molecular modeling studies of aryl and arylalkyl di-n-butyl phosphates, effective butyrylcholinesterase inhibitors", in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry (2017, 25, 3171-3181), illustrating the sensitivity of inhibitor activity to chemical modification and providing a structural basis for the striking changes in inhibitor potency. The article was co-authored by five CNSM undergraduate and graduate students.
      These observations serve as the basis for additional families of derivatives now under investigation, as well as motivating much more time-consuming and computationally intensive studies to better understand the dynamic nature of the BChE-inhibitor complex. In addition, Professor Kevin Sinchak is contributing his expertise via animal studies to evaluate the potential of previous and future compounds of investigation to treat AD-related cognitive loss. This multi-pronged approach represents a fruitful integration of subfields within our Department aimed at the singular goal of identifying new compounds for potential use in mitigating neurodegenerative diseases.

Upcoming Seminar! [See full list]

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Department News [Archived Here]

Grant for Tian Lab Prof. Fangyuan Tian recently received a $100K grant from the Environmental Research & Education Foundation to support her proposal titled "Renewable energy from waste: A study of landfill gas purification by hybrid porous materials". Congratulations to Prof. Tian and the Tian Lab!

Annabelle Cantu receives NSF-GRF! Recent BS Chemistry graduate and Schramm Lab researcher Annabelle Cantu was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to support her Ph.D. studies in synthetic organic chemistry beginning this fall at UC Los Angeles. Her proposal, "Exploration of a New Class of Supramolecular Catalysts", involves creating new molecular cages from chiral ligands and exploring their catalytic potential. Way to go, Annabelle!

Bhandari Lab News Prof. Bhandari recently received a 3-year National Institutes of Health SCORE grant of over $400k for her project titled Novel Insights into Cancer Cell Survival during Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress. The grant will support her group's research into understanding how cancer cells gain a cytoprotective advantage during ER stress resulting in prolonged survival and chemo-resistance. Congrats to Dr. Bhandari and her student researchers!

CNSM Outstanding Graduate Weers Lab undergraduate researcher Lukas Fuentes was selected by the CSU Long Beach Alumni Association (on recommendation from Dean Kingsford) as the 2017 Outstanding Graduate from the College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics! Lukas recently completed our BS Biochemistry program while also studying apolipoproteins in the Weers Lab and serving as both a peer mentor and tutor in the College's Jensen SAS Center. Congratulations to Lukas and to his research mentor, Prof. Paul Weers.

Sorin Lab Pubs The Sorin Lab recently published an article in Nucleic Acids Research that investigates the folding and conformational dynamics of the RNA pseudoknot motif using thousands of computers worldwide within the Folding@Home distributed computing network. The article, titled " Ensemble simulations: folding, unfolding and misfolding of a high-efficiency frameshifting RNA pseudoknot", was co-first-authored by BS Biochem graduate Khai Nguyen and Biochem/Physics double-major Yessica Gomez, who began her Ph.D. studies in Biocomputation this summer at UC San Francisco.

Tapavicza Lab News The Tapavicza Lab recently published an article in Chem. Phys. Phys. Chem. on the role of tachysterol in vitamin D photosynthesis. Based on hundreds of quantum chemical molecular dynamics simulations computed and analyzed by CSULB students Cecilia Cisneros, Travis Thompson, Noel Baluyot, and Adam Smith, the paper presents an explanation for recent observations that vitamin D can be produced at long wavelengths, such as in winter, if tachysterol is present in the skin.

Vas News! Prof. Vasanthy Narayanaswami was recently made a Fellow of the American Heart Association, an award that recognizes her outstanding scientific and professional accomplishments, as well as her voluntary leadership and service to the mission of the AHA and the American Stroke Association at the national and international levels. Congrats on such well-deserved and prestigious recognition, Dr. Vas!

Schwans Lab News Prof. Jason Schwans and his collaborators were recently awarded a multi-lab National Science Foundation grant to support his project "Collaborative Research: Systematic Investigation of the Structure, Dynamics, and Energetics of Hydrogen Bonds and the Protein Interior Using Ketosteroid Isomerase and Model Systems". The grant funds research in CSULB, Stanford, and UC San Francisco laboratories.

Mezyk Lab News Provost Brian Jersky recently announced the 2017 University Achievement Awards: congratulations to Prof. Steve Mezyk on winning this year's Academic Affairs award for Outstanding Faculty Mentor for Student Engagement in Research, Scholarly & Creative Activity, as well as to Mezyk Lab research student Jamie Gleason, who earned an Outstanding Undergraduate Research Student award.

Sorin Lab Pubs An interdisciplinary team of CSULB student researchers in The Sorin Lab reported the use of massively parallel molecular simulations to characterize the interactions of organophosphate inhibitors with butyrylcholinesterase. The article, published in Bioenergetics, was co-authored by Walter Alvorado (MS Phys), Samantha Cao (BS Biochem), Amethyst Radcliffe (BS Phys), Phuc La (BS Biochem), and Yi An (MS Chem).

NSF-RUI Awards Congratulations to Profs. Xianhui Bu and Michael P. Schramm who received NSF Research in Undergraduate Institutions awards to support undergraduate research at The Beach! Their funded proposals are titled "Development of a Synthetic Platform for Highly Tunable Cationic Porous Materials" and "Mono and Bis Gold Resorcinarenes: New, Potent Supramolecular Catalysts", respectively.

Bernal News! Longstanding Department lecturer Elaine Bernal recently completed her Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) and published a book chapter titled Evaluating a Professional Development Program for Course Redesign With Technology: The Faculty End-User Experience in the new text "End-User Considerations in Educational Technology Design. Congratulations, Dr. Bernal!

Slowinska Lab Pub The Slowinska Lab recently reported a new analytical method that allows for target-free cell selection and uptake that has potential for clinical applications in cancer. The article, titled "Thermoresponsive Collagen/Cell Penetrating Hybrid Peptide as Nanocarrier in Targeting-Free Cell Selection and Uptake", published in the ACS journal Analytical Chemistry, was co-authored by CSULB students Myungeun Oh, Chloe Hu, Selina F. Urfano, and Merlyn Arostegui.

Bhandari research The Bhandari Lab recently had their manuscript "Biochemical, Biophysical and Cellular Techniques to Study the Guanine nucleotide Exchange Factor, GIV/Girdin" accepted for publication in Current Protocols in Chemical Biology. The manuscript reports protocols they have developed/optimized for studying the signaling protein GIV and was co-authored by biochemistry graduate student Peter Nguyen in collaboration with the Ghosh Lab at UCSD. Congratulations to Dr. Bhandari!

Derakhshan research The National Science Foundation recently awarded a 3-year $300k grant to Prof. Shahab Derakhshan through the Research in Undergraduate Institutions program. The proposed work was titled "Heavy Element Transition Metal Oxides; Low Dimensional Magnetism vs. Geometrical Magnetic Frustration" and the award will enable Derakhshan's team to study the impacts of various structural and electronic parameters in the resultant magnetism. Congratulations to Dr. Derakhshan and the Derakhshan Lab!