The physical and theoretical chemistry group at UBC is one of the largest and most diverse in North America. It is represented by 6 theory faculty and 20 experimental groups that carry out research at the forefront of chemistry today.
The subject of chemistry is broadly based, which is reflected in its intermediary role between the biological and physical sciences. Physical and theoretical chemistry in turn occupies a pivotal position between physics and chemistry and as such provides an important foundation for the study of chemistry at large. It impacts on all areas of chemistry and finds diverse applications in medicine, life sciences, materials science and astronomy.
Notable examples include the design of reaction pathways in synthetic chemistry, the use of magnetic imaging and lasers in surgery as well as NMR spectroscopy in biology and drug design or the studies of conditions in diffuse interstellar clouds, quiescent cores or photoplanetary disks. Two of Canada's recent (four) Nobel Prizes have their roots in physical/theoretical chemistry: Gerhard Herzberg in molecular spectroscopy (1971) and John Polanyi in chemical reaction dynamics (1986).