Current Students

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry adheres and expands on the principal obligations of UAF faculty and the UAF Graduate School to present graduate students with every opportunity to prosper and succeed in their graduate experience. Students are obligated to maintain good academic standing and make adequate progress in their research. M.S. students pursuing their degree full time usually graduate within two to three years, and Ph.D. candidates usually graduate within four to five years.

Program Requirements

Students must satisfy all program requirements as described in the UAF catalog. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your program's requirements as you are making your Graduate Study Plan.


Many graduate courses are offered on an every-other-year schedule, so students should take courses, particularly their core courses, when they are offered.  Students should take seminar (Chem 692) at some point in their first year as a first experience in preparing oral presentations. Environmental Chemistry students should take Research Presentation Techniques (Chem 691) in their second year to prepare for their M.S. thesis defense or Ph.D. comprehensive examinations.  Biochemistry students should take Biochemistry Seminar (Chem 688) to develop professional skills. Students must earn at least a B in 400 level courses and must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 to be considered in good standing.  


Students are expected to be available during normal work hours in order to take advantage of available resources (including your advisor, lab mates, university resources, and shared instrumentation). However, it should be noted that research is not a 9-to-5 job and students are expected to allocate the amount of time needed to successfully carry out their thesis project and coursework. Successful research results from hard work, perseverence and dedication. Students will keep an accurate and honest lab notebook. Students will keep all laboratory resources and work areas clean and ready for the next user and will report damage to equipment promptly. Students are expected to maintain required levels of laboratory supplies and let someone know when something is getting low. Students must report safety concerns to their direct supervisor or a safety officer immediately.

 Step-by-step guides towards your degree

We have developed timelines of what to do at what time along the path to your degree. Generally, there are a number of initial tasks in the first year, followed generally by annual committee meetings discussing progress and giving guidance.  Ph.D. students take comprehensive exams as a mid-degree-path check on progress.  Students need to leave enough time (months) at the end of their program to complete their defense and thesis revisions.  As you approach degree completion, be sure to check these timelines. There are two guidelines by degree level.  Comprehensive exam procedured differ between the two Ph.D. programs, as described on the timelines.

Forms required by the Graduate School can be found here 

Committee Selection

The student identifies a faculty member or affiliate of the program to be their primary advisor and establishes a committee.  The establishment of the committee is done on the Appointment of Graduate Advisory Committee form, which should be submitted to our Graduate Student Coordinator by the end of the first year.  The student will work with the advisor and committee on their research, eventually leading to the writing of their thesis.  The student will work with the committee to form a Graduate Study Plan and file this form (typically at the first annual committee meeting).  The form is due at the end of the student's second semester in the program.

Annual Committee Meetings

Each year, usually in the spring, graduate students meet with their committees to discuss their progress. Students bring several documents to the meeting: a Progress Report, the Annual Report of Advisory Committee Form, and a Graduate Program Assessment Form. The Graduate School uses these documents to determine whether a student remains in good standing and can continue to receive TA, RA, or Fellowship support through the university. The Graduate School must receive all documents by May 15th.

Progress Report : Check with your committee well in advance of the meeting to find out what they expect in terms of content and format of the report. However, the following MUST be included in your Progress Report:

  • A description of project background and specific questions being studied
  • A report on coursework and research progress since the last meeting
  • A list of all publications since the last report (the prior year)
  • All conferences attended, including date and location, since the last report.
  • Occurences of applied research benefiting Alaska.
  • All oral and poster presentations, including date and location, since the last report.
  • All scholarships applied for and/or awards won, including travel awards, since the last report.
  • A research plan for the coming year

Our department values the time students put into this document. Please email your Progress Report to the Graduate Student Coordinator in addition to turning in a hard copy with your Report of Advisory Committee Form to streamline processing.

Annual Report of Advisory Committee Form: This document is required by the Graduate School for students to remain in good standing. Once your committee has deemed your Progress Report satisfactory (please review requirements for this report two paragraphs above this one), they will sign and submit the form along with the Progress Report to our Graduate Student Coordinator, who will submit both documents to the Dean’s Office.

Department’s Graduate Program Assessment Form : This form, which your committee will fill out and submit to the department without your name on it, helps with the accreditation of the department’s graduate programs.

During the Annual Committee Meeting: At the annual committee meeting, the student will:

  • Bring all necessary forms, including printed copies of your Progress Report for each committee member.
  • Present a 20-30 minute PowerPoint presentation on their work.  This presentation either lays out the project and describes literature research (first year) or shows the last year's progress and future directions (later years).
  • Receive feedback from their committee on progress, advice on research direction and coursework.

Advancement to Candidacy

Both M.S. and Ph.D. students must fill out an Advancement to Candidacy FormM.S. students, turn this in one semester before graduation. Ph.D. students, turn this form in at completion of the written and oral comprehensive examinations, typically in the third year of studies.

Thesis Abstract

Students must have their thesis to their committee members two weeks before their defense date.  The defense must be advertised by the department, so an abstract must be to the department administrative assistant two weeks before the public defense.  

Thesis / Dissertation

The students' thesis (or dissertation for Ph.D. candidates), after review by the committee and addressing all comments, must be signed by the committee members and then brought to the department chair and then the CNSM Dean.  The deadlines are that the thesis should be to the department chair two weeks before the Graduate School's deadline, and to the CNSM Dean one week before the Graduate School's deadline.  The department chair will accept a PDF version of the thesis and will give back comments for revision of the thesis to the student. After addressing depatment chair comments, send a final PDF version to the department chair, who will submit this file to the Dean's office.  In this way, the Dean's office knows that the departmental comments are addressed in the version that is sent to the Dean's office.  Do not bring a printed copy of the thesis or send a PDF directly to the Dean's office. The signature pages need to be signed in ink and printed on thesis paper.  The signature pages, are signed by the committee in full and then brought to the department chair's office (or the Chemistry and Biochemistry office).  When comments are addressed, the department chair will bring the signature pages to the Dean's office. Please work with the graduate school to satisfy their formatting requirements, and in particular have the graduate school approve your signature pages so that they don't need to be modified and re-signed later.

Please visit the UAF Graduate School dates and deadlines for upcoming deadlines.

Financial Aid and Fellowships

Terilyn Lawson conducting research in Dr. Tom Green's lab. Students may wish to apply for financial aid.  Forms may be found at the Graduate School website.

Numerous fellowships inside and external to UAF are available now (or may be available in the future), for example:

If you have further questions, please contact one of the program coordinators.