All tracks begin with intensive summer course work in the area of study. To complete the master's degree, students in this track will also need to complete 30 internship credits and an additional 8 credits of course work. An overview of credits and requirements can be found on the Overview page of this website.

The focus of the new Molecular Probes and Sensors program is to provide robust training in synthetic and interfacial chemistry. The curriculum will be developed in consultation with industry partners to train students with key skill sets needed to succeed and contribute to the Oregon and extended bioscience and molecular sensors business sectors. The primary coursework will comprise specifically-tailored coursework centered in chemical biology and analysis. The lab component of training will begin with a “boot camp” lab that provides students with the requisite experimental skills needed in the business sectors and culminate with industrial partnership immersion labs that provide students with industry-related projects that must be accomplished in a team environment with key deadlines, budgets, and objectives to be met. These labs will be augmented by coursework that focuses on chemical biology, research translation, interfacial chemistry, technical skill development, compound/materials analysis, and professional development. Specific lecture courses will include a chemical biology course, in which students learn key material related to the interface of chemistry and biology and an analysis course, in which students learn key concepts behind different analytical techniques commonly used in the industry.

We anticipate that most students will ultimately find placement in biotechnology and/or bioscience industry, with a focus on the development and applications of molecular probes, fluorescent probes, molecular imaging agents, and molecular sensor devices. Coursework will focus on providing background in the synthetic chemistry, physical organic chemistry, chemical biology, and analysis of molecules and materials related to these applications.
Students in this track should typically have bachelor's degrees in chemistry, chemical biology, biochemistry, and/or chemical engineering.

Summer Course Outline
The summer Probes and Sensors program includes the following courses:

Chemical Biology (Lecture)
This course will focus on applications of synthetic chemistry to biologically-relevant molecules, bioconjugation techniques, and surface interfaces. The primary goal will be to provide students with basic information on how different industry-standard platform technologies work so that knowledge required for specific applications can be built from a strong core framework.

Analysis and Applications of Synthetic Materials (Lecture)
In addition to making small molecules and materials, understanding commonly used analysis techniques in this industry sector will benefit students in their internships and future careers. Students will learn commonly used spectroscopic analytical techniques including solution-based measurement techniques such as NMR, UV-vis, and fluorescence spectroscopy, as well as imaging techniques that might include electron microscopy, live- and fixed-cell imaging, multimodal imaging strategies, analyte detection/data analysis, and flow cytometry theory and techniques. In addition, having a strong background in these techniques will help students better understand the motivation for problems being solved in the immersion labs as well as customer needs in the industry.

“Boot Camp” Laboratory
This class will provide direct lab experience to students with diverse backgrounds and different levels of familiarity and expertise with common lab skills in the bioscience and molecular sensors business sectors. To ensure that all students have the requisite laboratory skillset to maximize their future success, the “boot camp” lab course will help students hone their required laboratory skillsets using prepared lab exercises. These labs will focus on the synthesis of molecules and/or nanomaterials for sensing applications as well as the use of these prepared materials in simple assays and interfaces. In addition to making molecules and materials, students will learn common analytical techniques associated with this sector. For example, laboratory experiments could include synthesis, purification, and analysis of commonly-used fluorophores, comparison of common bioconjugation reactions/techniques, execution of surface ligation methodologies, synthesis of sensor materials/devices, as well as analysis of cellular imaging and flow cytometry experiments.

Industrial Partners Immersion Laboratory
The immersion program requires students to focus solely on working as a group toward a challenging goal. In this program, students form teams to study real problems or needs submitted by our industrial partners. By working in teams on a specific problem, students gain a greater personal responsibility for the project and have an opportunity to refine soft-skills such as organization, task management, and presentation skills. Students will help organize the class's efforts and provide updates during daily process meetings. As a whole, the immersion design helps students connect missing elements in their training, instills personal responsibility for deadline-containing projects, and prepares students to be efficient and effective in teamwork applications akin to those they are likely to find during internships. Cross-track collaborations will be also be encouraged during this lab class.

Sample Text and Reference Books

David Van Vranken, Gregory A. Weiss. Introduction to Bioorganic Chemistry and Chemical Biology. 1st Edition
The Molecular Probes Handbook. (Produced by ThermoFisher Scientific)

Faculty & Instructors

James E. Hutchison, Professor of Chemistry and Lokey-Harrington Chair in Chemistry, UO Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. B.S., University of Oregon, 1986. Ph.D., Stanford University, 1991 (James P. Collman). Postdoctoral: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1992–94 (Royce W. Murray). At Oregon since 1994.

Darren W. Johnson, Professor of Chemistry and Bradshaw and Holzapfel Research Professor in Transformational Science and Mathematics, UO Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. B.S., University of Texas, Austin, 1996. Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2000 (Kenneth N. Raymond). Postdoctoral: The Scripps Research Institute, 2001-03 (Julius Rebek, Jr.). At Oregon since 2003.

Nathanael Lau, Post-doctoral Research Associate, UO Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry (Michael D. Pluth). B.S., California Institute of Technology, 2008. Ph.D., University of California at Irvine, 2017 (A. S. Borovik). At Oregon since 2017.

Michael D. Pluth, Associate Professor of Chemistry, UO Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. B.S., University of Oregon, 2004. Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2008 (Kenneth N. Raymond). Postdoctoral: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2008-11 (Stephen J. Lippard). At Oregon since 2011.