Department of Chemistry


The Waters Group 2007

At the Department of Chemistry, we feel strongly that diversity is crucial to our pursuit of academic excellence, and we are deeply committed to creating a diverse and inclusive community.

We support UNC's policy, which states that "the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is committed to equality of opportunity and pledges that it will not practice or permit discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran's status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression."



Old Well

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a long-held tradition of striving for excellence. A critical element for any twenty-first century educational institution is a diverse and inclusive community.

The vision of the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs is to build and sustain an inclusive campus community and to foster a welcoming climate that values and respects all members of the University community. The mission of the Office affirms the University's commitment to diversity as a critical element of academic excellence.




The University of North Carolina has excellent opportunities for postdoctoral researchers from underrepresented groups interested in faculty positions.

The Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity encourages faculty diversity by recruiting outstanding scholars to perform postdoctoral research at UNC Chapel Hill, with the goal of training the next generation of faculty scholars. Chemists interested in this program are strongly encouraged to contact a faculty member whose research interests them. The application window typically opens in September.

Focus on Implicit Bias

Chemistry Professor Jeffrey Johnson was a participant in the 2nd annual Diversity Thinkposium held recently. A THINKposium is a hybrid think tank/symposium and free exchange of ideas on a particular topic. This year's daylong event, held at the Stone Center, focused on implicit bias and its effect on classroom instruction and hiring practices.


Chancellor Carol L. Folt, who welcomed the more than 100 THINKposium participants, said the work they were about to undertake was vitally important. “The UNC-Chapel Hill we want is the one you are thinking about creating. It has the same level of intentionality we bring to our teaching and our research and the way we build community,” she said.


Maribel Portillo - McNair Scholar

Maribel Portillo is a rising UNC senior who is working in the laboratory of Professor Jeff Johnson as a McNair Scholar. Maribel is working with 3rd year Ph.D. student Robert Sharpe in the area of synthetic organic chemistry. Her research focuses on the preparation of analogs of the antitumor antibiotic natural product pactamycin. While this compound exhibits a promising bioactivity profile, toxicity limits its utility as a drug candidate. Maribel's work seeks to develop unnatural variants that retain the positive therapeutic attributes but reduce undesired toxicity.

Research Image

The Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program is a federal TRIO program funded at 201 institutions across the United States and Puerto Rico by the U.S. Department of Education. It is designed to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. McNair Scholars are either first-generation college students with financial need, or members of a group traditionally underrepresented in graduate education and have demonstrated strong academic potential. The goal of the McNair Scholars Program is to present graduate school as a real possibility for these students, thus increasing graduate degree awards for students from underrepresented segments of society.


Summer Research

Olivia Finster is visiting the department from Grinnell College in Iowa through the Undergraduate Summer Research Program of the Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis, CENTC, a Phase III NSF Center for Chemical Innovation. The CENTC summer program is committed to providing research experiences for students from underrepresented groups or from institutions without ample research opportunities.

Miller, Finster, and Pitman

Working in the Miller Group, Olivia is performing research under the mentorship of first year graduate student Kate Pitman to synthesize and study homogeneous catalysts. Finster and Pitman are working to develop electrocatalysts for use in key steps in a CO2 reduction process. The research extends beyond Chapel Hill, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Washington and University of Michigan. The CENTC summer research program features weekly videoconferences where students get to know each other even though they are at distant institutions. UNC is proud to help sponsor such an innovative first research experience, which will certainly help Olivia pursue her dream of performing research in sustainability.


Chemistry Women Mentorship Network

Carolina Professor Jillian Dempsey and Professor Brandi Cossairt with the University of Washington, have together launched the Chemistry Women Mentorship Network. The goal of the organization is to create a national network of women in academic chemistry to provide support, encouragement, and mentorship for young women considering careers in academia.

Chemistry Women Mentorship Network

You are cordially invited to join the network. Please share this information with anyone you feel will be interested.


Marcey Waters Named WOWS Scholar

Professor Marcey Waters has been named a WOWS, Working on Women in Science, Scholar in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Marcey Waters

The program was initiated in 2007 and the award recognizes Professor Waters role as an outstanding mentor, researcher, scholar, teacher, and leader.


DeSimone on Diversity

Chancellor's Eminent Professor Joe DeSimone was interviewed in connection with his receipt of the 2012 Walston Chubb Award for innovation. Diversity is one of the cornerstones in professor DeSimone's philosophy on how to maximize effort in the laboratory.

Joseph DeSimone

"There is no more fertile ground for innovation than a diversity of experience, and that diversity of experience arises from a difference of cultures, ethnicities, and life backgrounds. A successful scientific endeavor is one that attracts a diversity of experience, draws upon the breadth and depth of that experience, and cultivates those differences, acknowledging the creativity they spark," emphasizes DeSimone. Click below to listen to his views on diversity, innovation, and cross-disciplinary research.