Mathematics and Natural Sciences

ChemistryBiology, mathematics, chemistry, physics

The division of mathematics and natural sciences offers a rare opportunity for undergraduate students to engage in hands-on, investigative research using the highest quality facilities supported by dedicated faculty members engaged in original research in their field. Science and mathematics students flourish in the environment of conference teaching, cooperative problem-solving, and a faculty whose doors (and labs) are always open.

Coursework includes the study of elementary principles that form a basis for understanding each discipline both for the major and non-major. Advanced courses additionally provide training in specialized techniques characteristic of the individual sciences. Reed emphasizes critical thinking, clear writing and speaking, and integration ofchem image different fields of knowledge, preparing students in the division to understand and incorporate social, political, economic, philosophical, and humanistic thought into their work as scientists and mathematicians.

Interdisciplinary majors and dual degree programs with cooperating institutions expand options for the student majoring in the division. Interdisciplinary majors include:

  • chem imagebiochemistry and molecular biology
  • mathematics-economics
  • mathematics-physics
  • chemistry-physics
  • an alternative biology program

Dual degree programs are currently offered in

  • computer science (University of Washington)
  • engineering (California Institute of Technology)
  • forestry-environmental sciences (Duke University)
Physics Lab

Reed's commitment to providing undergraduates with an experience rooted in the process of discovery was recently recognized by the National Science Foundation (NSF), which named Reed a recipient of the National Award for the Integration of Research and Education. Through this grant Reed has furthered the integration of education and research through research mentoring and review programs and an outreach program both within and outside the Reed academic community.

The division's commitment to rigorous laboratory experience within the liberal arts tradition has earned Reed a national reputation for excellence in sciences and mathematics. Among all colleges of the liberal arts and sciences, Reed is first in the nation in the percentage of graduates who go on to earn a Ph.D. in the life sciences, and second in the nation in the percentage of graduates who earn a Ph.D. in mathematics. Reed has produced the second highest number of Rhodes Scholars in the country, 43 percent of whom have been science majors. It is not uncommon for Reed students to publish papers in scientific journals.

Notable Alumni

  • Wise Young '71, biology: researcher on neuro-degeneration and spinal cord injuries, director of the Keck Center of Collaborative Neuroscience, Rutgers University
  • Jennifer Ferenstein '88, biology: president of the National Sierra Club
  • Suzanne Fusaro '97, biology: naturalist, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies
  • Lendon Smith '43, chemistry: "the Children's Doctor," national expert on children's health and nutrition (dec.)
  • Kip Guy '90, chemistry: professor, University of California, San Francisco; member of research team that produced the world's first synthetic version of the cancer-fighting drug taxol
  • Leo Macdonald '97, chemistry: developer of new parts and processes for jet engines, GE Research and Development
  • Barbara Ehrenreich '63, chemistry-physics: noted author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, columnist, and social commentator
  • Greg Neumann '68, mathematics: lead analyst for NASA project on Mars mapping
  • Nicholas Manganaro '79, mathematics: vice president, Merrill Lynch, New York
  • Leora Gershenzon '82, mathematics: nationally recognized advocate for children and child support enforcement; deputy director of policy, California department of child support services
  • Howard Vollum '36: co-inventor of the oscilloscope; co-founder of Tektronix, Inc. (dec.)
  • Arwen Davé '88, art and physics (double major): design engineer, Lockheed, working on design of international space station
  • Jim Russell '53, physics: inventor of the compact disc and president of Russell Associates, Inc., a leading inventor of optical storage systems
  • Kathy Reeves '96, physics: astrophysicist, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

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E=mc2Periodic TableMath Student