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201A Physical Science Building

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry offers the Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Chemistry, the Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Biochemistry, and the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Chemistry. The BS degrees may have, but do not require a minor.  The BS in Chemistry degree includes the opportunity to obtain a minor in Secondary Education with Certification in Physical Science or Science. The BS degree in Biochemistry and Chemistry are certified by the American Chemical Society if the course of study is 43 Chemistry semester credit hours (BS Biochemistry) or 47 Chemistry semester credit hours (BS Chemistry) specified below, plus a minor, three semesters of Calculus, and two semesters of Calculus-based Physics.

Pre-Professional Career Advice

The BS Chemistry, BS Biochemistry, and the BA Chemistry degrees offer excellent preparation for students interested in careers in dentistry, forensic science, medicine, pharmacy, or veterinary medicine.  Students interested in these professions should seek advice from the Pre-Professional Advisor in the Dean of Science Office prior to reaching 60 credit hours toward a degree.

Five-Year Bachelor of Science-Master of Science Program

The curriculum for the BS degree in Chemistry can be completed in three and one-half years. After admission to the Graduate School of the University, it is possible to obtain the MS degree at the end of the fifth year of study in chemistry. Qualified students should consult an academic advisor about the course of study for this program before reaching 60 undergraduate semester credit hours.

Bachelor of Science Degree with Departmental Honors in Chemistry

A candidate for Departmental Honors in chemistry must have achieved an overall GPA of 3.0 and a GPA of 3.0 in Chemistry upon reaching 60 semester credit hours, and, must maintain these minimum GPA levels until graduation.  The principal requirement for Departmental Honors will be the satisfactory completion of an Undergraduate Honors Thesis based on research in Chemistry or Biochemistry conducted under the direction of a member of the faculty of the Department of Chemistry or a suitable faculty member from another department of the University.  Designation of Departmental Honors in Chemistry will be conferred by the Chair of the Department upon recommendation of the Thesis-Research Director and Departmental Honors Committee.  Other faculty and outside referees may be consulted if it is deemed to be appropriate.  The candidate for Departmental Honors must request approval of candidacy from the Chair after reaching 60 credit hours and before reaching 90 credit hours toward the degree.  The Department of Chemistry reserves the right to accept or not accept a qualified student taking into consideration the number of applicants, the number of available faculty, and the competence of an individual student.  The accepted Honors candidate will enroll in CHEM 4176 or CHEM 4376 during both semesters of the senior year and will have accumulated a total of six (6) hours of CHEM 4176 and CHEM 4376 credit on completion of the Honors program.  Other regulations and procedures for the Honors designation are available from the Chair of the Department of Chemistry.

Advising and Placement

All students majoring in Chemistry are required to consult with and have their semester enrollment approved by an advisor in the Department of Chemistry before every enrollment.  For additional information about advisors and advising in chemistry see  For advising in secondary education see or contact the College of Science, 915-747-5536.

Any entering freshman students with at least one year of high school chemistry with an A or B in Chemistry can receive Credit by Examination for CHEM 1305 by achieving a score of 80 or above on an Examination administered by the Department of Chemistry covering the content of this course. 

An entering freshman student with two years of high school Chemistry with grades of A or B can receive Credit by Examination for CHEM 1305 and CHEM 1306 by achieving a scores of 80 or above on Examinations administered by the Department of Chemistry covering the content of these two courses. 


Bachelor of Science


CHAIR: Dr. Jorge Gardea-Torresdey


Carl Dirk
Contact Information:; 915-747-7560
Education: BA, Montclair State College; MS, Northwestern University; Ph D, Northwestern University
Research Interests: Research in Progress 1) We have an ongoing research project underway with PhotoKinetics, Inc. (PKI) dealing with the development of products related to the effect of light on the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGC) of the eye. This work is involving the Hector Olvera of the College of Nursing at UTEP, and discussions have begun with Dr. Kristin Gosselink of the Department of Biology at UTEP. This work also involves entities outside of UTEP, which, for reasons of nondisclosure protection cannot be disclosed at this time. 2) We have a recent incipient research project involving the calculation of the photochemical and radical reaction stability of some small fluorocarbon molecules which may be contaminants in the atmosphere. This project is really the main interest of a student, Jaime Valencia, whom I am assisting by training him how to undertake and interpret the molecular orbital calculations. 3) Ongoing theoretical chemical project in singlet oxygen reactivity with organic molecules. This project involves our discovery of an apparently novel singlet oxygen C-H insertion reaction. We have tried to get funding to complete the project. It will probably be published within another year or two if we cannot get funding. 4) Ongoing theoretical chemistry project on the photochemistry of the laser dye Disperse Orange 11. This work has generate one publication in 2012 in the Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry. We have an ongoing follow-up theoretical investigation. 5) Ongoing work with Dr. Katja Michael dealing with the photochemistry of N-acylated nitroindoles. This work generated one publication in 2013. 6) Starting a new project area in 2013 on modulated conjugation to achieve higher nonlinear optical susceptibilities. I have personally bought a $5000 workstation to launch this project. Hopefully, it will generate some successful research proposals in 2014. 7) Our Museum Lighting activity, for which we were nominated for a Chancellor?s award, is awaiting successful funding. Despite being wholly novel, and the only lighting project submitted to the NSF program on Cultural Heritage Science (CHS), it was not chosen for funding in any of the three years we submitted the proposal to NSF. The CHS program has now been suspended by NSF. We may still try to submit the project in the future, but are trying to gain some more preliminary results to undertake the project. The recently purchases workstation (vide supra) may assist in this project.

Michael Eastman
Contact Information:; 915-747-8771
Education: BS, Carleton College; Ph D, Cornell University; POSTD, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Luis Echegoyen
Contact Information:; 915-747-7573
Education: Ph D, University Puerto Rico
Research Interests: Materials Chemistry and Physical Chemistry

Keith Pannell
Contact Information:; 915-747-5796
Education: BS, Durham University; MS, Durham University; Ph D, University of Toronto

Stephen Stafford
Contact Information:; 915-747-6930
Education: BS, UTEP; Ph D, Rice University

Shailendra Varma
Contact Information:; 915-747-6937
Education: B.E, University of Roorkee; MS, University of Denver; Ph D, Georgia Institute of Technology

Associate Professors

Chu Young Kim
Contact Information:
Education: Ph D, University of Pennsylvania

James Salvador
Contact Information:; 915-747-5704
Education: High School, Stephen F. Austin High School; BS, University of Texas at El Paso; Ph D, New Mexico State University
Research Interests: Organic Synthesis, Asymmetric Synthesis, Enzymatic Reactions, Computer Programming, Education

Geoffrey Saupe
Contact Information:; 915-747-7559
Education: Ph D, University of Texas at Austin
Research Interests: Nanosensors, hydrogen energy, photochemical energy conversion, photocatalysts, water splitting, renewable energy, electron transfer kinetics, environmental chemistry, remediation, SPR-surface plasmon resonance, supercapacitors, 3-D ceramics, thin films, self-assembled monolayers, semiconductor photocatalysis, composites, materials chemistry, analytical chemistry

Dino Villagran
Contact Information:; 915-747-8750
Education: BS, University of Texas at El Paso; MS, University of Texas at El Paso; Ph D, Texas A&M University; Postdoctoral fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Research Interests: Physical Inorganic Chemistry, Synthesis, x-ray crystallography, electrochemistry, multi-electron redox chemistry, water oxidation, small molecule activation.

Assistant Professors

Skye Fortier
Contact Information:; 915-747-5195
Education: Ph D, University of California, Santa Barbara

Michael Irwin
Contact Information:; 915-747-5195
Education: BA, Texas A&M Univresity; Ph D, Northwestern University

UTEP Miner
Contact Information:; 915-747-5973
Education: BS, The University of Texas at El Paso; MS, The University of Texas at El Paso; Ph D, The University of Texas at El Paso
Research Interests: Student Success, Pedagogies of the 21st Century, Technology Education, Service Learning

Lela Vukovic
Contact Information:
Education: Ph D, University of Illinois

Associate Professor Emeritus

Winston Lloyd
Contact Information:; 915-747-7554
Education: BS, Florida State University; Ph D, University of Washington

Postdoctoral Fellow

Jay Bhatt
Contact Information:; 915-747-7567
Education: Ph D, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

Research Assistant

Alejandro Metta Magana
Contact Information:; 915-747-8788
Education: Ph D, Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Morelos; BS, Universidad autonoma del estado de Morelos

Research Associate

Sai Krishna Katla
Contact Information:

Research Specialist

Jose Peralta-Videa
Contact Information:; 915-747-8998
Education: BS, National School of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry,; MS, Tropical Agricultural Research & Higher Education Center; Ph D, University of Chapingo, MX; Ph D, The University of Texas at El Paso
Research Interests: My research interests encompass the impacts of engineered nanomaterials in terrestrial plants, especially in food crops. Of major interest is the evaluation of the impact of nanomaterials in the food chain. Other research areas of interest include (1) the use of plant growth promoting bacteria for plant nutrition and phytoremediation purposes and (2) the bioproduction of nanoparticles using living plants and inactivated plant biomass. The long-term goals are to determine the toxicity of nanomaterials, the study of the biotransformation of nanomaterials in food crops, the possible transmission of the nanomaterials to the next generation of plants, and the possible biomagnification of NPs in the food chain. Instrumentation utilized in these types of studies includes inductively coupled plasma/optical emission spectroscopy (ICP/OES), X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), and infrared imaging microspectroscopy.