Astrochemistry is a broad and interdisciplinary emerging field at the
intersection of the traditional disciplines of chemistry, physics, and
astronomy. Broadly speaking, astrochemistry can be defined as the study
of molecules in the universe. Molecules play important roles in a
wide variety of astrophysical environments and also serve as unique
probes to study these environments. From the early universe, to the
interstellar medium in our galaxy, to the atmospheres of stars, planets,
and comets, chemistry is not a curiosity but a driving force.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is an emerging leader in
this young field. Astrochemical research is being conducted in
Department of Chemistry and
the Department of Astronomy.
Both a lecture course
(ASTR/CHEM 450) and a laboratory course
(ASTR/CHEM 451) offer advanced undergraduate students and graduate students
a formal introduction to the subject.
Undergraduate students can choose to pursue a double major (or double degree)
in both chemistry and astronomy, and PhD students in either chemistry or
astronomy can pursue a graduate concentration in astrochemistry.
Additionally, the two departments sponsored a joint seminar series in
Astrochemistry, with financial support from the National Science Foundation.
Nationally and internationally, the field of astrochemistry is gaining
increased prominence. This is evidenced by the growing number of
scientific conferences and sessions devoted to this area, including
annual sessions at the
International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, special sessions at
recent meetings of the American Chemical Society, the American Physical
Society, and the American Astronomical Society, and regular meetings of the
the International Astronomical
The large number of groups performing astrochemical research across the
midwestern United States has recently led to the formation of the
Consortium, which holds annual meetings in Urbana.