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Chemistry and Biochemistry

Knowledge of the chemical world is important for any educated person because chemical concepts and issues affect so many aspects of our personal lives and society. Coursework in chemistry naturally prepares one to understand the physical and living worlds; it also prepares one to make scientifically-informed contributions to many other fields and to society. Areas such as molecular biology, environmental law and policy, bioethics, patent law, medicine and education are examples of fields where chemical knowledge is needed. Both biochemistry and chemistry majors pursue graduate studies in chemistry, biochemistry or medicine upon graduation. Other career paths available to these majors include employment in fields such as the pharmaceutical industry, law, environmental monitoring and technical sales/management. The chemistry faculty encourages students to participate in collaborative research during the school year, Winter Term and summers. Such research is an important facet of a student's education. Students may also choose to pursue an internship at a national laboratory or in an industrial or medical setting at some point in their training. All chemistry students may participate in the activities of the award-winning Chemistry Club. The Women in Science group also sponsors speakers and activities of interest to chemistry students. Majors and minors are offered in chemistry and biochemistry. No chemistry course may be taken pass/fail.

Course Catalog

Requirements for a major

Biochemistry

Total courses required Nine and one-quarter
Core courses CHEM 120, CHEM 130, CHEM 170, CHEM 240, CHEM 260, CHEM 310, CHEM 343, CHEM 440
Other required courses Two courses selected from: CHEM 342, BIO 250, BIO 314, BIO 320, BIO 325, BIO 335, BIO 361, BIO 382, BIO 415
Number 300 and 400 level courses At least 3.0 courses
Senior requirement and capstone experience Satisfactory performance on the Biochemistry Comprehensive Examination and satisfactory attendance at departmental seminars during the junior and senior years are required.
Additional information With the approval of their advisor, students may apply CHEM 335, CHEM 354, CHEM 364, BIO 390 or BIO 490 toward the "other required courses" (such courses should have a biochemical emphasis). With the approval of their advisor, students may apply up to 0.5 course of research (CHEM 395, CHEM 405, and BIO 490).
Writing in the Major

Scientists write for a variety of purposes and audiences. Sometimes the writing is formal, such as an article or poster conveying the results of a research project to an audience of knowledgeable peers. Other times the writing is informal, used to facilitate the research process when the audience is limited to the author and his or her research partners. This could be in the form of brief research reports, or sharing laboratory notebooks. At other times, scientists write for a general audience of intellectually curious non-scientists. Just as the practice of science requires careful design of experiments, and precise and accurate measurements, a scientist must have command of the written word in a manner appropriate for diverse purposes and audiences.

Writing instruction in the department parallels the vertical nature of our curriculum, in which upper-level courses build on concepts learned in introductory courses, to build and reinforce skills in writing across a student's four years. Students in our introductory courses learn to maintain a laboratory notebook and to report the results of their laboratory work in a journal article format. Writing instruction at this level is carefully structured to give attention to different purposes and audiences. Particular attention is given to the design of tables, graphs, and figures that summarize results and illustrate ideas, and to the effective use of such devices in clearly communicating information and supporting the written narrative. As students progress through the curriculum, their laboratory work becomes more independent, open-ended, and complex, and their written reports become correspondingly more demanding and require greater sophistication. At all levels, the department's focus is on carefully organizing and presenting information, constructing meaning from complex data, and effectively communicating the results of scientific experiments.

Writing in the Major (WIM) will be completed through specific WIM assignments in your upper-level classes. You must receive a C or better on three of four WIM assignments to complete this requirement. For Biochemistry majors, there will be two WIM assignments available in Chem 310 and one assignment each in Chem 343 and Chem 440. For Chemistry majors, there will be one WIM assignments each in Chem 320, Chem 331, Chem 450 and Chem 460.

Chemistry

Total courses required Nine and one-quarter
Core courses CHEM 120, CHEM 130, CHEM 170, CHEM 240, CHEM 260
Other required courses Chemistry majors must also complete advanced courses in three categories as follows:
  • Chemical Reactivity (1.5 courses chosen from CHEM 320, CHEM 331, CHEM 332, CHEM 335; at least one class must include lab);
  • Chemical Analysis (CHEM 450 plus one course chosen from CHEM 351, CHEM 352, CHEM 353, CHEM 354);
  • Theoretical and Computational Chemistry (CHEM 460 plus one course chosen from CHEM 361, CHEM 362, CHEM 363, CHEM 364).
Number 300 and 400 level courses Four and one-half
Senior requirement and capstone experience The senior requirement consists of satisfactory performance on the Chemistry Comprehensive Examination and satisfactory attendance at departmental seminars during the junior and senior years.
Writing in the Major See Writing in the Major for Biochemistry.

Requirements for a minor

Biochemistry

Total courses required Five and one-quarter

NOTE: Chemistry majors may not earn a minor in Biochemistry.

Core courses CHEM 120, CHEM 170, CHEM 240, and CHEM 260.
Other required courses One course chosen from: CHEM 310, CHEM 343 or CHEM 440 and one course from BIO 314, BIO 315, BIO 320, BIO 325, BIO 335, BIO 361 or BIO 415.

300 and 400 level courses: 2.

Number 300 and 400 level courses 2

Chemistry

Total courses required Five and one-quarter

Note: Biochemistry majors may not earn a minor in Chemistry.

Core courses CHEM 170
Other required courses
Number 300 and 400 level courses One