The Department of Chemistry in the College of Science at Virginia Tech has ranked among the top 30 chemistry departments nationwide in terms of academic research expenditures for the year 2003 by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

According to a report recently released by the NSF, the department ranked 29th, ahead of chemistry departments in noted research institutions such as The Johns Hopkins University and Princeton University.

“President Steger set a very ambitious goal in his installation address to become one of the nation’s top research universities,” said Joe Merola, professor and department chair. “I am pleased and honored to say that the chemistry department is helping to achieve that goal.”

Merola said the department had seen “meteoric” rise in the National Science Foundation rankings over the last several years. “We have seen a phenomenal rise from 53rd in 2001 to 39th in 2002 to the latest ranking of 29th,” he said.

Topping the list was the University of California, San Francisco with $22 million in federal funding of chemistry research, followed by the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Texas, Austin. Virginia Tech’s chemistry department was the only one in Virginia to make the top 30 ranking. NSF ranking reports typically run two years behind the actual reporting year.

“The entire chemistry department – faculty, staff, and students – is to be congratulated for this remarkable accomplishment,” Merola said. “Special congratulations should go to Richard Gandour and Larry Taylor, my two immediate predecessors, who are responsible for setting the department on this track of accomplishment.”

The complete table of chemistry department rankings can be found at

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