NSF-AIRE at Reed
Reed Home
Mentor Program
Science at Reed
Participating Departments
Other Resources
Student Theses
Department Grants
Biology   Chemistry   Physics   Psychology


ReedisThe fundamental objective of Reed’s science programs is to insure that Reed graduates develop the motivation and skills to be independent, analytical lifelong learners who are prepared to excel in advanced science degree programs and a range of careers.

This statement from taken from Reed’s NSF AIRE proposal captures the fundamental goal of the Chemistry Department and describes the desired outcome of our academic program. In the context of chemistry, these goals are met by introducing students to the chemist's unique molecular view of the world and further enhancing and detailing this vision with training in the various sub-disciplines of the chemical sciences. At all points in the curriculum, we emphasize a hands-on approach to learning through laboratory experiences. Students make molecules, characterize them with state-of-the-art instrumentation, and interpret their results with powerful theoretical models, often coupled to computer-enhanced molecular modeling. While we value the history and tradition in our field, we seek to infuse the curriculum with the sense that chemistry is a vital and ever-changing field. This requires that we expose students to the fundamental questions that chemists are posing at the end of the twentieth century and that we provide them with an understanding of some of the techniques and methodologies available to seek the answers to these questions.


Ultimately, chemistry majors may join the larger chemical community in the pursuit of these answers through research. Alternately, they may seek careers in other fields which have their own intellectual challenges whose pursuit can also benefit from the experiences gained through research. Independent research requires a sharp focus to address a scientific problem in a constructive fashion. It requires individuals to use the literature in addressing the knowledge that has been formed before and to use their own skills in obtaining and interpreting new information. The Reed College community shares a belief that research is an integral part of learning, and that the year-long senior thesis is the culmination of the Reed experience. The senior thesis defines who we are and what we want to accomplish, and the curricular and administrative decisions we make are more influenced by this requirement than by anything else. The evolution of the Chemistry Department, from its inception at the foundation of the College, has taken place in the context of changing views regarding the fundamental nature of chemistry. The kinds of questions addressed by undergraduate researchers have changed dramatically over 85 years, reflecting changing emphases, expanding fields of inquiry, and increasing external support. This history is intended to explore how the emphasis on research in the Department’s curriculum has led to our current situation, and what the costs and benefits of this approach have been.

The Faculty
The Curriculum
Research in an Undergraduate Setting
Back to Science at Reed Reviews

Reed College 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd., Portland, OR 97202-8199 Phone 503-771-8201 Fax 503-777-7769 Link to Reed Home