Department of Chemistry
Chemistry is the scientific study of the composition and properties of matter and the investigation of the laws that govern them. Classically, chemistry is divided into several subdisciplines. Organic chemistry deals primarily with carbon compounds; inorganic chemistry, with compounds of the other elements. Physical chemistry seeks to describe relationships between the chemical and physical properties of all substances. Analytical chemistry studies the analysis of the chemical composition of all substances. Biological chemistry pursues the chemistry of living organisms. At the borders of these subdisciplines are many hybrid areas of study: physical organic, organometallic, bioinorganic, and others. At the interface of chemistry with other sciences, several active fields are fueled by insights gained from two ways of thinking about things: for example, chemical physics, chemical biology, organic geochemistry, and the extensive chemical problems in biotechnology, nanotechnology, material sciences, and molecular medicine. In all of these areas the chemist’s approach may be theoretical, experimental, or both.
All chemists have a common core of knowledge, learned through a highly structured sequence of undergraduate courses in which the content is divided into the classical subdisciplines. Toward the end of students’ progress through their four years of undergraduate study, they may choose to concentrate in one or more areas of chemistry through the courses selected to fulfill the chemistry elective requirements and through undergraduate research.
Faculty advisors are available in the Department of Chemistry for both walk-in meetings and scheduled advising appointments. The departmental advisors assist students with a variety of areas: course planning for the chemistry major, career/graduate school planning, study abroad opportunities, undergraduate research opportunities, and how to deal with academic difficulties. Chemistry majors are required to meet with a departmental advisor by appointment prior to registering for any semester beyond the fourth term in residence. The faculty advisors also schedule many events for the majors.
Graduate School and Career Opportunities
An undergraduate degree tailored according to the student’s interests can open doors to graduate programs in many academic disciplines: chemistry, environmental science, materials science, polymer science, chemical engineering, geochemistry, chemical physics, and several disciplines at the interface between biology and chemistry. A technically oriented administrator in the chemical industry might choose to obtain a master’s degree in business administration. More than 100 schools in the United States offer graduate programs in chemistry and related areas, and the usual practice is to complete a graduate degree at an institution different from the undergraduate institution. It is necessary to specialize in graduate study, either within one of the branches previously mentioned or at the interface between two of them. A student admitted to a graduate program in chemistry in the United States is usually offered a teaching assistantship or fellowship.
Chemists have a wide choice of academic, governmental, or industrial positions. By far the greatest percentage accept industrial positions, mostly in chemical manufacturing or the petroleum, food, and pharmaceutical industries, where they may be developing new products to benefit humanity or assessing the level of risk in the processes for some proposed production methods, for example. Most government chemists are employed in agriculture, health, energy, environmental, and defense-related areas. In the academic field, with such a broad spectrum of colleges and universities in this country, chemists can set career goals with varying levels of emphasis on training students in research and teaching in the classroom and instructional laboratory.
- Chemistry Major, B.A.
- Chemistry Major, B.S.
- Chemistry Major, B.S.–Biochemistry Track
- Chemistry Major, B.S.–Polymer Track
Erik J. Alexanian, Jeffrey Aubé, Andrey V. Dobrynin, Dorothy A. Erie, Michel R. Gagné, Gary L. Glish, Jeffrey S. Johnson, David S. Lawrence, Gerald J. Meyer, David A. Nicewicz, John M. Papanikolas, Gary J. Pielak, J. Michael Ramsey, Matthew R. Redinbo, Mark H. Schoenfisch, Sergey S. Sheiko, Jason D. Surratt, Joseph L. Templeton, Marcey L. Waters, Kevin M. Weeks, Wei You.
James F. Cahoon, Jillian L. Dempsey, Leslie M. Hicks, Yosuke Kanai, Bo Li, Matthew R. Lockett, Simon J. Meek, Alexander J.M. Miller, Andrew M. Moran, Scott C. Warren.
Joanna M. Atkin, Elizabeth C. Brunk, Jeffrey E. Dick, Abigail Knight, Frank A. Leibfarth, Zhiyue Lu, Sidney M. Wilkerson-Hill, Aleksandr V. Zhukhovitskiy.
Todd L. Austell, Brian P. Hogan.
Teaching Associate Professors
Nita Eskew, Thomas C. Freeman, Domenic J. Tiani.
Teaching Assistant Professors
Joshua E. Beaver, Carribeth L. Bliem, Anna C. Curtis, Danielle Zurcher.
Careful attention should be given to prerequisites and course timing when planning a long-term schedule. A C- or better grade in CHEM 101 is required to continue into CHEM 102/CHEM 102L. CHEM 102 is a prerequisite for CHEM 241/CHEM 241L, CHEM 251, and CHEM 261. A C- or better grade in CHEM 102 is required to continue into ANY higher-level chemistry course. A C- or better grade in CHEM 261 is a prerequisite for CHEM 262, and CHEM 241L is a prerequisite for CHEM 262L. Students intending to take pregraduate or preprofessional exams (such as the GRE or MCAT) should plan accordingly.
The goal of this seminar is to develop tools for extracting information from or finding flaws in news reports and popular science writing. Group work on such issues as biomass fuels, the hydrogen economy, and other alternative energy sources will develop an understanding of their economic and environmental impact.
Students will learn about ways in which scientists think. They will explore how new knowledge is generated and examine the impact of science on society. Topics to be considered include the nature of gases, atomic structure and radioactivity, and molecules and the development of new materials.
Bringing ideas to fruition is a multistep process. In the present knowledge economy, high value is placed on individuals who both formulate new concepts and bring them to reality. This process requires a number of important skills that will be explored in this course.
A course engaging the topic of nuclear chemistry on the introductory chemistry course level (e.g., CHEM 101/102). Atomic structure, nuclear fission, and nuclear fusion processes will be introduced to provide the background necessary to understand applications of the processes. Applications discussed will include power generation, medical treatments, weapons, and more. Honors version available.
Special topics course. Content will vary each semester.
This course is an introduction to fundamental threshold concepts in chemistry as preparation for the two-course sequence of General Descriptive Chemistry (CHEM 101 and 102). This course emphasizes developing contextualized algebra skills for solving chemistry problems including physical unit conversions, molar mass, and reaction stoichiometry. Permission of instructor required.
The first course in a two-semester sequence. See also CHEM 102. Atomic and molecular structure, stoichiometry and conservation of mass, thermochemical changes and conservation of energy.
Computerized data collection, scientific measurement, sensors, thermochemistry, spectroscopy, and conductometric titration. Laptop computer required. One four-hour laboratory a week.
The course is the second in a two-semester sequence. See also CHEM 101. Gases, intermolecular forces, solutions, reaction rates, chemical equilibria including acid-base chemistry, thermochemistry, electrochemistry. Honors version available.
Computerized data collection, gas laws, intermolecular forces, redox reactions, chemical kinetics, and acid-base titrations. Laptop computer required. One four-hour laboratory a week.
An undergraduate seminar course that is designated to be a participatory intellectual adventure on an advanced, emergent, and stimulating topic within a selected discipline in chemistry. This course does not count as credit towards the chemistry major.
Coregistration in CHEM 200 and 101L fulfills the physical and life science with a laboratory requirement (PX). This course helps students understand the chemistry behind important societal issues and the consequences of actions aimed at addressing the issues. Students who have taken CHEM 200 cannot take CHEM 101 for credit.
This is an APPLES service-learning course that collaborates with a community partner. Students will develop research questions and test their hypotheses using chemistry lab techniques and instrumentation. Students will keep a reflection journal on their service work and a lab notebook for recording all experimentation. At the end of the semester, students will write a paper and present research posters. Findings will be shared with the community partner. Students must send applications to the instructor.
Analytical separations, chromatographic methods, spectrophotometry, acid-base equilibria and titrations, fundamentals of electrochemistry. Honors version available.
Applications of separation and spectrophotometric techniques to organic compounds, including some of biological interest. One three-hour laboratory a week. Students may not receive credit for both CHEM 241L and CHEM 245L.
Applications of separation and spectrophotometric techniques to samples from the real world, including some of biological interest. Final portion of course consists of group research projects presented to the Department of Chemistry in poster session format. Honors equivalent of CHEM 241L. Students may not receive credit for both CHEM 241L and CHEM 245L. One three-hour laboratory each week.
Chemical periodicity, introductory atomic theory and molecular orbital theory, structure and bonding in solids, descriptive nonmetal chemistry, structures and reactions of transition metal complexes, applications of inorganic complexes and materials.
Molecular structure and its determination by modern physical methods, correlation between structure and reactivity and the theoretical basis for these relationships, classification of reaction types exhibited by organic molecules using as examples molecules of biological importance. Honors version available.
In the organic chemistry lab, you will acquire hands-on experience with many different techniques associated with manipulating organic compounds. CHEM 261L affords the opportunity to study some elementary techniques and reactions in organic chemistry.
Continuation of CHEM 261, with particular emphasis on the chemical properties of organic molecules of biological importance. Honors version available.
Continuation of CHEM 241L or 245L with particular emphasis on organic chemistry synthesis protocols, separation techniques, and compound characterization using modern spectroscopic instrumentation. This course serves as an organic chemistry laboratory for premedical and predental students. Students may not receive credit for both CHEM 262L and CHEM 263L. One three-hour laboratory each week.
Continuation of CHEM 245L with particular emphasis on organic chemistry synthesis protocols, separation techniques, and compound characterization using modern spectroscopic instrumentation. An organic chemistry laboratory for premedical and predental students. Honors equivalent of CHEM 262L. Students may not receive credit for both CHEM 262L and CHEM 263L. One three-hour laboratory each week.
Elective topics in the field of chemistry. This course has variable content and may be taken multiple times for credit.
Experience includes academic mentoring for small groups, preparing review sessions, and facilitating lecture hall activity. Students will apply concepts in pedagogy, leadership, communication, and group dynamics. Does not fulfill chemistry major requirements. GPA above 3.0 required.
The sponsored, off-campus work must involve at least 135 hours. Does not fulfill any requirement in the chemistry major or minor. Chemistry majors only. Permission of instructor/department
Required preparation, one CHEM course 420 or higher, or permission of the instructor. For advanced chemistry and applied sciences majors conducting on-campus research. Students prepare a report for their faculty supervisor and present their work at a poster session. May count only once as a chemistry elective. Honors version available.
Permission of the director of undergraduate studies. Literature or laboratory work equivalent of one to three hours each week. Honors version available.
Weekly meetings complement research carried out under CHEM 395H. Expands students' exposure to specialized areas of research through guided readings and seminars with invited speakers. Aids students in preparing their research for evaluation. CHEM 395H and 397H together can contribute no more than nine total hours toward graduation.
Advanced Undergraduate and Graduate-level Courses
Permission of the instructor. This course explores secondary school chemical education through current chemical education theory and classroom teaching. Students will develop a comprehensive approach to teaching chemistry content through student-centered activities.
Chemical structure and nomenclature of macromolecules, synthesis of polymers, characteristic polymer properties.
Synthesis and reactions of polymers; various polymerization techniques.
Polymerization and characterization of macromolecules in solution.
Polymer dynamics, networks and gels.
Solid-state properties of polymers; polymer melts, glasses and crystals.
The study of cellular processes including catalysts, metabolism, bioenergetics, and biochemical genetics. The structure and function of biological macromolecules involved in these processes is emphasized. Honors version available.
Structure of DNA and methods in biotechnology; DNA replication and repair; RNA structure, synthesis, localization and transcriptional reputation; protein structure/function, biosynthesis, modification, localization, and degradation.
Biological membranes, membrane protein structure, transport phenomena; metabolic pathways, reaction themes, regulatory networks; metabolic transformations with carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids, and nucleotides; regulatory networks, signal transduction.
Permission of the instructor for undergraduates. Diffusion, sedimentation, electrophoresis, flow. Basic principles, theoretical methods, experimental techniques, role in biological function, current topics.
Spectroscopy, electroanalytical chemistry, chromatography, thermal methods of analysis, signal processing.
Experiments in spectroscopy, electroanalytical chemistry, chromatography, thermal methods of analysis, and signal processing. One four-hour laboratory a week and one one-hour lecture.
This class will focus on analytical techniques capable of probing the physical and chemical properties of surfaces and interfaces. These analyses are extremely challenging, as the sample sizes are small (e.g., 1E14 molecules/cm2 of a material). The course will focus on complementary techniques to assess surface structure and topography, atomic and molecular composition, organization or disorder, and reactivity.
Theory and applications of equilibrium and nonequilibrium separation techniques. Extraction, countercurrent distribution, gas chromatography, column and plane chromatographic techniques, electrophoresis, ultra-centrifugation, and other separation methods.
Basic principles of electrochemical reactions, electroanalytical voltammetry as applied to analysis, the chemistry of heterogeneous electron transfers, and electrochemical instrumentation.
Optical spectroscopic techniques for chemical analysis including conventional and laser-based methods. Absorption, fluorescence, scattering and nonlinear spectroscopies, instrumentation and signal processing.
Principles and applications of biospecific binding as a tool for performing selective chemical analysis.
Fundamental theory of gaseous ion chemistry, instrumentation, combination with separation techniques, spectral interpretation for organic compounds, applications to biological and environmental chemistry.
Introduction to micro and nanofabrication techniques, fluid and molecular transport at the micrometer to nanometer length scales, applications of microtechnology to chemical and biochemical measurements.
Introduction to symmetry and group theory; bonding, electronic spectra, and reaction mechanisms of coordination complexes; organometallic complexes, reactions, and catalysis; bioinorganic chemistry. Honors version available.
Chemical applications of symmetry and group theory, crystal field theory, molecular orbital theory. The first third of the course, corresponding to one credit hour, covers point symmetry, group theoretical foundations and character tables.
A detailed discussion of ligand field theory and the techniques that rely on the theoretical development of ligand field theory, including electronic spectroscopy, electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy, and magnetism.
Exploring the synthesis, bonding, and reactivity of of organotransition metal complexes. Topics typically include organometallic ligand classification, the elementary steps of organometallic reactions, and applications in catalysis.
Modern topics in organic chemistry. Honors version available.
Bioorganic chemistry integrates topics from synthetic chemistry, biochemistry, and biophysics to study biomacromolecules and develop tools and materials that utilize them.
Kinetics and thermodynamics, free energy relationships, isotope effects, acidity and basicity, kinetics and mechanisms of substitution reactions, one- and two-electron transfer processes, principles and applications of photochemistry, organometallic reaction mechanisms.
A survey of fundamental organic reactions including substitutions, additions, elimination, and rearrangements; static and dynamic stereochemistry; conformational analysis; molecular orbital concepts and orbital symmetry.
Spectroscopic methods of analysis with emphasis on elucidation of the structure of organic molecules: 1H and 13C NMR, infrared, ultraviolet, ORD-CD, mass, and photoelectron spectroscopy.
Modern synthetic methods and their application to the synthesis of complicated molecules.
Structure and reactivity of organometallic complexes and their role in modern catalytic reactions
Crystal geometry, diffusion in solids, mechanical properties of solids, electrical conduction in solids, thermal properties of materials, phase equilibria.
Knowledge of differential and integral calculus. Chemical applications of higher mathematics.
Permission of the instructor. A survey of materials processing and characterization used in fabricating microelectronic devices. Crystal growth, thin film deposition and etching, and microlithography.
The structural and energetic nature of surface states and sites, experimental surface measurements, reactions on surfaces including bonding to surfaces and adsorption, interfaces.
Does not carry credit toward graduate work in chemistry or credit toward any track of the B.S. degree with a major in chemistry. Application of thermodynamics to biochemical processes, enzyme kinetics, properties of biopolymers in solution.
Thermodynamics, kinetic theory, chemical kinetics.
Experiments in physical chemistry. One four-hour laboratory each week.
Introduction to quantum mechanics, atomic and molecular structure, spectroscopy, statistical mechanics.
Experiments in physical chemistry. Solving thermodynamic and quantum mechanical problems using computer simulations. One three-hour laboratory and a single one-hour lecture each week.
Thermodynamics, followed by an introduction to the classical statistical mechanics and non-equilibrium thermodynamics.
Experimental and theoretical aspects of atomic and molecular reaction dynamics.
Introduction to the principles of quantum mechanics. Approximation methods, angular momentum, simple atoms and molecules.
Interaction of radiation with matter; selection rules; rotational, vibrational, and electronic spectra of molecules; laser based spectroscopy and nonlinear optical effects.
Applications of quantum mechanics to chemistry. Molecular structure, time-dependent perturbation theory, interaction of radiation with matter.
Applications of statistical mechanics to chemistry. Ensemble formalism, condensed phases, nonequilibrium processes.
This course is offered to first-year graduate and upper-class undergraduate students in different chemistry disciplines who are interested in gaining skills in molecular modeling using modern methodologies from computational chemistry. No prior experience is required. An overview of quantum mechanics (QM) and molecular dynamics (MD) methodologies will be provided. It will also provide extensive experiences to perform different types of computations with abundant hands-on exercises using Gaussian package for QM and LAMMPS for MD simulations.
Various polymerization techniques and characterization methods. One four-hour laboratory each week.
An introduction to chemical techniques and research procedures of use in the fields of protein and nucleic acid chemistry. Two four-hour laboratories and one one-hour lecture a week.
Introduction to microscopy techniques utilized in the analysis of chemical and biological samples with a focus on light, electron, and atomic force microscopy. Permission of instructor required for those missing prerequisites.
A laboratory devoted to modern instrumental methods and analytical techniques. One four-hour laboratory and one one-hour lecture each week.
A laboratory devoted to synthesis and characterization of inorganic complexes and materials. A four-hour synthesis laboratory, a characterization laboratory outside of the regular laboratory period, and a one-hour recitation each week.
This is an honors laboratory course designed to lead you from challenging introductory experiments to five weeks of laboratory work on an independent research project. In addition to exposing you to advanced synthetic techniques, this course will allow you to use multiple modern techniques to characterize the inorganic and organometallic complexes you prepare. Students may not receive credit in both CHEM 551L and CHEM 550L.
An advanced synthesis laboratory focused on topics in organic chemistry. A four-hour synthesis laboratory, a characterization laboratory outside of the regular laboratory period, and a one-hour recitation each week.