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Stanford Sapp Center

Brief History

Chemistry was one of the 25 founding departments at Stanford, opening its doors in the fall of 1891. The department first occupied Building 60 on the main quad and then moved into the ‘Chemistry Building’ in 1903. The transformation into what is today’s internationally renowned department began around 1960.


There are currently 26 active faculty members.  Of these, 22 are tenured and 4 untenured.  They include 6 women and 1 underrepresented minority member and 3 who hold joint appointments. 10 of these faculty are members of the National Academy of Sciences. One is the winner of the Nobel Prize and one has received the National Medal of Science. There are 3 lecturers (one senior).

Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars

The average incoming Ph.D. graduate class is ~40 and there are currently ~250 working towards their Ph.D. There are ~80 Postdoctoral Scholars.

The Teaching Mission

The department serves our chemistry majors and has an extensive service teaching mission that meets undergraduate education requirements across the university and its many disciplines. During the past academic year, there were 3009 undergraduates enrolled across all Chemistry courses (12,149 units). There are 47 undergraduate chemistry majors. Another key element of the teaching mission is for the graduate student population in chemistry.

Space and Infrastructure

The faculty, staff and department operations are currently housed in ~160,000 sq.ft. of assignable space distributed over 6 buildings. The renovated “old chemistry building" is now called the Sapp Center for Science Teaching and Learning.

Department Staff

The operations, teaching and research missions are directly supported by ~30 Chemistry staff. These include a Department Manager and 6 senior managers of functional areas (facilities including a core NMR instrumentation center, external relations, human resources/faculty affairs, student services, administrative services and finance). In addition, there are ~20 external staff supporting the library, service centers, EHS and IT.