Reed College Catalog

Shivani Ahuja

Structural biochemistry, application of biophysical and biochemical techniques to study metal acquisition, virulence and inhibition of bacterial Mn(II) transporters.

Gabriella Amberchan

Organic synthesis, hydride chemistry, and organometallics through a green chemistry perspective. 

Miriam A. Bowring

Mechanistic organometallic chemistry. On sabbatical 2022–23.

Gonzalo Campillo-Alvarado

Organic and materials chemistry; designing functionality into crystalline solids (e.g., electronics, pharmaceutics, separation, photoactive materials) through noncovalent interactions, crystal engineering and X-ray crystallography.

Danielle M. Cass

Analytical biochemistry and metal analysis of environmental samples.

Kelly N. Chacón

Metallobiochemistry, X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS), electronic absorption, and fluorescence spectroscopy of metal sites in proteins.

Daniel P. Gerrity

Experimental physical chemistry, application of laser spectroscopy to the study of chemical dynamics and molecular electronic structure.

Arthur Glasfeld, Emeritus

Biochemistry, protein structure and function.

Mackenzie M. Grieman

Ice core science, paleoclimatology, earth system interactions, application of analytical techniques to detect chemical impurities in ice cores to reconstruct past climate.

Nicole M. James

Chemistry education research, using quantitative and qualitative methods to explore how students learn chemistry and apply it in interdisciplinary contexts.

Rebecca LaLonde

Organic synthesis, organometallic, medicinal, and physical organic chemistry. On leave 2022–23.

Bobby O'Brien

Natural product synthesis.

Phan T. Truong

Chemical reactivity.

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. 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 Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Health, the American Chemical Society, the Murdock Trust, and other sources.


Requirements for the Major

  1. Chemistry 101 and 102, 201 and 202, 212, 311 or 313, 315 or 316, 332, 333, 470.
  2. Physics 101 and 102.
  3. Mathematics 111.
  4. One of: Mathematics 112, 113, or 141 or Computer Science 121.
  5. Junior qualifying examination.


Requirement number four may also be fulfilled with a second calculus course covering techniques of integration, sequences, and series. If a student wishes to obtain certification of their program by the American Chemical Society, two units of calculus (Mathematics 111, and 112 or a second calculus course as described in the previous sentence), and one unit of biochemistry must be included. ACS certification is not required for graduation, but may prove useful for students seeking employment as chemists following graduation. 

Students contemplating graduate work in chemistry are encouraged to take Chemistry 315 and 316. Students with special interests in physical and/or theoretical chemistry should take Mathematics 112, 201, and 202; Physics 201 and 202; and Chemistry 315, 316, and 403, and/or 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 interested in pursuing advanced degrees in analytical or bioanalytical chemistry should take Mathematics 141. Students should also examine the detailed description of the established interdisciplinary program in biochemistry and molecular biology, which is listed in another section of the catalog. Students interested in combining the study of chemistry with the study of environmental themes in other fields, such as biology, political science, economics, or history, should consider the environmental studies–chemistry major. Interdisciplinary programs linking chemistry to mathematics or other disciplines can also be arranged.

Chemistry 101 - Molecular Structure and Properties

One-unit semester course. Introduction to the chemist’s description and use of light and matter. 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 Reactivity

One-unit semester course. An introduction to the reactions of atoms and molecules. Specific topics include gas laws, solution phenomena, thermodynamics, chemical equilibria, electrochemistry, and kinetics. Prerequisite: Chemistry 101. Lecture-conference-laboratory.

Chemistry 201 - Organic Chemistry

One-unit semester course. 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 Chemistry

One-unit semester course. A continuation of Chemistry 201. Structure, methods of preparation, and reactions of important classes of organic compounds will be stressed. Laboratory work includes the preparation, purification, and spectroscopic identification of organic compounds. Prerequisite: Chemistry 201 or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference-laboratory.

Chemistry 212 - Inorganic Chemistry

One-unit semester course. An introduction to inorganic chemistry, including the structure, bonding, and reactions of main-group molecules, transition metal complexes, and organometallic compounds. Laboratory work is focused on scientific inquiry, along with synthesis, characterization, and reactivity of inorganic compounds. Prerequisites: Chemistry 101, 102, and 201, or consent of the instructor. Lecture-laboratory. May be taken without the lab for one-half unit.

Chemistry 220 - Geology

See Environmental Studies 220 for description.

Not offered 2022–23.

Environmental Studies 220 Description

Chemistry 230 - Environmental Chemistry

One-unit semester course. 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 and Instrumentation

One-unit semester course. An examination of the principles of data acquisition and statistical analysis, 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. Prerequisite: Chemistry 101/102 or consent of the instructor. Lecture-laboratory.

Chemistry 315 - Physical Chemistry Laboratory

One-half-unit semester course. An exploration of various experimental strategies and techniques in physical chemistry, as applied to inorganic, organic, and/or biochemical problems. Laboratory work includes investigations of energetics, molecular structure, and reaction dynamics requiring the use of large instrument systems and critical analysis and interpretation of experimental data. Corequisite: Chemistry 311, or consent of the instructor. Lecture-laboratory.

Chemistry 316 - Physical Chemistry Laboratory: Spectra of Diatomic Molecules

One-half-unit semester course. An exploration of various experimental strategies and techniques in physical chemistry, as applied to the study of diatomic molecules. Laboratory work includes investigations of energetics, molecular structure, and/or reaction dynamics requiring the use of large instrument systems and critical analysis and interpretation of experimental data. Prerequisites: Chemistry 311 and 333, or consent of the instructor. Lecture-laboratory.

Chemistry 324 - Advanced Physical Organic Chemistry

One-unit semester course. An introduction to modern concepts in experimental, computational (molecular modeling), and theoretical methods used to understand foundational interrelationships between structure and reactivity in organic molecules. Topics include chemical structure and reactivity, intermolecular interactions, molecular recognition, photochemistry, pericyclic reactions, and review of applications in state-of-the-art research. Hands-on experience with single-crystal X-ray diffraction will provide additional insight to the analysis of organic molecules. Prerequisite: Chemistry 201 and 202. Lecture-Conference.

Chemistry 332 - Chemical Thermodynamics and Kinetics

One-unit semester course. An introduction to statistical mechanics, which provides a bridge between the quantum mechanical description of properties pertaining to microscopic systems and the classical thermodynamic description of properties pertaining to macroscopic systems. An examination of the relations between molecular dynamics, observed rates, and inferred mechanisms of chemical reactions will be included. Prerequisites: Chemistry 102, Mathematics 111, and Physics 101, or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference.

Chemistry 333 - Quantum Mechanics and Molecular Structure

One-unit semester course. An introduction to principles of quantum mechanics and their application to problems in atomic and molecular structure. Meets four days per week to incorporate study of multivariable calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations. Prerequisites: Mathematics 111 and Physics 101 and 102. Lecture-conference.

Chemistry 345 - Advanced Synthetic Chemistry

One-unit semester course. A study of advanced synthetic methods and design. Topics include methods of building carbon skeletons and changing functional groups as well as strategies for multi-step synthesis. Predictive models for selectivity and the use of organometallic reagents will be emphasized. Advanced spectroscopic techniques, such as multidimensional NMR, are discussed as critical tools for structure determination. Prerequisite: Chemistry 201 and 202. Lecture.

Chemistry 347 - Advanced Synthesis Lab

One-half-unit semester course. An introduction to performing multistep synthesis in the context of a semester-long research project. The course focuses on the use of organometallic reagents, application of selectivity in synthesis, and the use of spectroscopic techniques, such as multidimensional high-field NMR, for structure determination. Prerequisite: Chemistry 201 and 202. Corequisite: Chemistry 345, or consent of the instructor. Laboratory.

Chemistry 391 - Structural Biochemistry

One-unit semester course. An examination of the structure and function of biological molecules, including lipids, polysaccharides, proteins, and nucleic acids. Areas of study include protein stability and folding, protein-ligand interactions, enzyme kinetics and catalysis, and protein biosynthesis. Special attention will be given to biophysical techniques employed in the characterization of biological molecules. Prerequisite: Chemistry 201, 202. Lecture-conference.

Chemistry 392 - Metabolic Biochemical Homeostasis

One-unit semester course. This course describes the energetics, bioinorganic, and bioorganic chemistry of the cell as it maintains stable internal conditions despite changes in external conditions. Focus will be placed on the origins and chemical evolution of metabolism, principles of metal ion homeostasis, and the energy-producing pathways: glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, oxidative phosphorylation, and fatty acid oxidation. Prerequisites: Chemistry 201, 202, and 391, or consent of the instructor. Lecture.

Chemistry 394 - Biochemical Methods

One-half-unit semester course. An introduction to the laboratory techniques commonly used in biochemistry. Experiments demonstrate methods used in the purification and characterization of proteins with attention to a variety of biophysical techniques. Prerequisites: Chemistry 391 or 392, or consent of the instructor. Lecture-laboratory.

Chemistry 396 - Bioinorganic Chemistry Seminar

One-half-unit semester course. A study of the role of metals in biological systems and biomedical applications. Topics will include the structure and function of metalloproteins, including electron transfer systems, small molecule transport, storage, and activation, and the use of metals in pharmaceuticals. Discussion will focus on techniques used to characterize the active sites of the native biomolecules and the mechanisms of the reactions they promote with an emphasis on spectroscopy and the use of small molecule model complexes. Prerequisites: Chemistry 212 or 391. Lecture-conference.

Not offered 2022–23.

Chemistry 403 - Topics in Physical Chemistry

One-half-unit semester course. An examination of current topics relating to the use of spectroscopy to study electronic structure, molecular dynamics, and chemical reactivity with an emphasis on the primary literature. Prerequisites: Chemistry 316, or 332, or 333, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Chemistry 470 - Thesis

Two-unit yearlong course; one unit per semester.

Chemistry 481 - Individual Work in Special Fields

One-half-unit semester course.