New chair takes the helm!

This past spring the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry elected Dr. Yong Cai to serve as chair of the Department for the upcoming four years beginning in the fall term 2016. Dr. David Chatfield served as chairman from 2008-2016 and is eager to return to the lab.

Thank you for a job well done Professor Chatfield!


Dr. Cai received his Ph.D. at Nankai University in China in 1989. He joined the Faculty at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the Fall of 1997 after a research appointment at FIU's Southeast Environmental Research Center with which he still maintains an association. He has spent the intervening years being an outstanding departmental citizen and leader and building a reputation as one of the foremost experts in the detection of organometallic compounds in the environment. Among his many projects involve the effects of trace elements such as mercury and arsenic on the environment and on human health. Trace elements, many of anthropogenic origin, can have significant impact on plant and animal life in the natural environment. Accumulation may occur over decades, and not every form of an element will have the same impact. It is crucial to understand the transport and transformation of such elements in the natural environment.

Professor Cai also studies the potential hazards of wood that is treated chemically to prevent decomposition. In collaboration with Dr. Larry Boise at Emory University, Professor Cai’s group has developed arsenic speciation methods useful in identifying arsenic metabolites present in cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy using arsenic containing substances. These methods may also be useful for studying the interactions among arsenic species and thiols present in biological systems. Eventually, they may also prove useful in assessing the effectiveness of arsenic in multiple myeloma treatments.

Join us in congratulating Professor Cai. The Department has made an excellent choice!