Courses in chemistry provide a comprehensive description of the interaction of matter and energy at the atomic level. Examples of chemical phenomena drawn from current research, together with modern theoretical principles, are used to examine a diverse set of subjects, including atomic and molecular structure, the energetics of physical and chemical processes, the dynamics and mechanisms of chemical reactions, the chemical principles underlying biological and environmental processes, and the synthesis of new organic, inorganic, and biochemical compounds and materials.
Coursework is integrated with appropriate laboratory work and is designed to teach the skills used by practicing chemical scientists. A large assortment of modern research-quality instruments is available for undergraduate use, including GC-MS, FT-IR, and FT-NMR spectrometers; an X-ray diffractometer; a 250-kilowatt research reactor (see “Campus Facilities”); and a computational chemistry laboratory.
Research investigations are used to refine and integrate skills and to introduce students to the daily activities of practicing scientists. The senior thesis provides an opportunity to focus on a single research topic for an extended period of time and is typically conducted as a collaboration between the student and one or more faculty members. Independent study, including research, is encouraged as a method for tailoring studies to the needs of the individual student. Several students are offered employment each summer as research assistants and are able to conduct original research. Much of this research is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the American Chemical Society, and other sources.
Requirements for the Major
- Chemistry 101 and 102, 201 and 202, 212, 311, 316, 332, 333, 470.
- Physics 100.
- Mathematics 111, 112, 211. Physics 200 (lecture and lab in the fall; lecture in the spring) may be substituted for Mathematics 211.
If a student wishes to obtain certification of her or his program by the American Chemical Society, one semester of biochemistry (either Chemistry 391 or 392) must be included. This certification is not required for graduation, but may prove useful for students seeking employment as chemists following graduation. Although there is no formal language requirement, the ability to read technical articles in a foreign language, especially German, is useful.
Students with special interests in physical and theoretical chemistry should take Mathematics 212, Physics 200, and Chemistry 324 (or independent study in theoretical/computational chemistry), and should consult with an adviser concerning more advanced courses in mathematics and physics. Students contemplating graduate work in biochemistry or related fields should take Chemistry 391, 392, and 394, and should consult with an adviser concerning additional courses in biology. Students should also examine the detailed descriptions of the interdisciplinary programs in chemistry and physics, and biochemistry and molecular biology, which are listed in another section of the catalog. Interdisciplinary programs linking chemistry to mathematics or other disciplines can also be arranged.
Chemistry 101 - Molecular Structure and PropertiesFull course for one semester. Introduction to the chemist’s description and use of light and matter in the context of larger issues such as astronomy, the greenhouse effect, and fats in our diet. Specific topics include the interaction of light and matter (spectroscopy), the structure of the atom and the atomic structure of matter, chemical bonds and intermolecular forces, and chemical descriptions of color and solubility. Lecture-conference-laboratory.
Chemistry 102 - Chemical ReactivityFull course for one semester. An introduction to the reactions of atoms and molecules, focusing on examples from environmental chemistry. Specific topics include gas laws, solution phenomena, thermodynamics, chemical equilibria, and kinetics. Prerequisite: Chemistry 101. Lecture-conference-laboratory.
Chemistry 201 - Organic ChemistryFull course for one semester. Introduction to theories describing the structure and reactivity of organic compounds. Theoretical principles are illustrated using computer-based molecular models. Structure, methods of preparation, and reactions of important classes of organic compounds are examined. Laboratory work introduces techniques used in the preparation, purification, and spectroscopic identification of organic compounds. Prerequisite for 201: Chemistry 101/102 or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference-laboratory.
Chemistry 202 - Organic ChemistryFull course for one semester. Introduction to theories describing the structure and reactivity of organic compounds. Theoretical principles are illustrated using computer-based molecular models. Structure, methods of preparation, and reactions of important classes of organic compounds are examined. Laboratory work introduces techniques used in the preparation, purification, and spectroscopic identification of organic compounds. Prerequisite: Chemistry 201 or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference-laboratory.
Chemistry 212 - Introductory Inorganic ChemistryFull course for one semester. A descriptive exploration of the chemistry of inorganic compounds including the structure, bonding, and reactions of main-group molecules, transition metal complexes, and extended solids. Laboratory work includes the synthesis and characterization of molecular compounds and extended solids, and introduces useful characterization techniques including infrared and electronic spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, and thermal analysis. Prerequisite: Chemistry 101/102 or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference-laboratory. May be taken without the lab for one-half unit.
Chemistry 230 - Environmental ChemistryOne-half course for one semester. An introduction to the chemistry of natural and polluted environments. Fundamental principles of chemistry are used to understand the sources, reactivity, and fate of compounds in the Earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere. Topics include: the stratospheric ozone layer, photochemical smog and particulate air pollution, climate change and energy use, water toxics and treatment, and agricultural modification of the surface environment. Prerequisite: Chemistry 101/102. Lecture-conference.
Chemistry 311 - Analytical Chemistry
Full course for one semester. An examination of the principles of chemical equilibria and the principles and methods of chemical and instrumental analysis. The functions of classical volumetric and gravimetric techniques, along with electronic, optical, and mechanical instrument components and features of their organization into measurement systems are discussed. Applicability and limitations of representative electrochemical, spectroscopic, and nuclear instruments are assessed. Prerequisite: Chemistry 101/102 or consent of the instructor. Lecture-laboratory.