Chemistry Course Descriptions

103, 104. General Chemistry. (1.25 units each)

This course is an introduction to chemistry for science and non-science majors. Both courses use in-class experimentation, discussion, and lecture to ask and answer questions of general chemical interest, including applications in biology, physics, astronomy and geology. Students discuss experimental data using the logic and language of chemistry and are frequently asked to substantiate conclusions using both conceptual and quantitative reasoning. Topics include water and its unique properties, atomic structure and properties, molecular structure, types of chemical bonding and reactions, redox systems and electrochemistry, reaction equilibria, thermodynamics and kinetics. Three class periods plus one laboratory period per week; students may also participate in optional weekly peer-led team learning workshops. Prerequisites: secondary school algebra or enrollment in a college mathematics course. A grade of 1.75 or higher in 103 is required to fulfill the prerequisite for enrollment in 104. A grade of 2.0 or higher in 104 is required to fulfill the prerequisite for enrollment in 200-level courses. Required for the neuroscience major.

106.        Chemistry and Environment

Chemistry and environment is designed for non-science majors who wish to learn chemistry at the introductory level. In this course, we will explore the distribution and interaction of chemicals in air, water, and soil, as well as how human activities affect the chemistry of Earth. We will discuss how chemistry can help us understand local and global environmental issues, and what it tells us about possible solutions. Some questions that we will address in this course include:  How can chemistry help prevent, diagnose, and solve environmental problems? How do people use chemistry to understand and create a more sustainable world? Also offered as ENVS 106. Offered in the spring semester.

3000–3999. Special Topics in Chemistry.

The content of each course or section of these 100- or 200-level special topics courses varies and will be announced each semester. They may be intended for majors or nonmajors. Not all of these courses will count toward the chemistry major, minor, or the Chymist Honor Society.

205.        Quantitative Analysis. (1.25 units)

An introductory course dealing with the chemical, physical and logical principles underlying modern quantitative chemical analysis. Among the broad topics treated are data evaluation, titrimetry, solution equilibria, chromatography and absorption spectroscopy. Lectures plus one laboratory per week. Prerequisite: CHEM 104 (with a 2.0 grade or higher) or permission of instructor. Also offered as ENVS 205. Offered only once per year, usually in the spring semester.

221, 222. Organic Chemistry. (1.25 units each)

An introductory course focusing on the chemistry of naturally occurring and synthetic carbon compounds; description and determination of structure with an emphasis on spectroscopic methods; reactivity and its theoretical basis; mechanism; and synthesis of organic compounds. The microscale laboratory emphasizes preparation, purification and identification of organic compounds, isolation of organic substances, mechanistic studies and separation techniques. Spectroscopic methods are applied to structure elucidation. Prerequisites: CHEM 104 with a grade of 2.0 or higher. Acceptance into 222 requires a grade of 2.0 or higher in 221. CHEM 221 is required for the neuroscience major.

303.        Inorganic Chemistry.

Inorganic chemistry comprises the study of all elements of the periodic table and the trends that unite
them. This course begins from a theoretical basis describing chemical bonding and structure in the
context of molecular orbital theory and hard/soft acid/base theory. These theories are applied to
coordination complex synthesis and the applications of coordination, organometallic, and bioinorganic
compounds. Applications of inorganic principles of rational design are explored in fields including
medicine, renewable energy, geoscience, and catalysis. Prerequisite: CHEM 222. Offered every other Fall semester (on even years).

306.      Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology.

This course is designed for chemistry majors and students in environmental studies who have a strong
background in chemistry. It explores the chemistry of air, water, and soil, as well as how anthropogenic
activities affect the chemistry of Earth. In addition, this course will cover sustainability and green
chemistry. Prerequisite: CHEM 221 or permission of instructor. Also offered as ENVS 306. Offered every other Fall semester (on odd years).

309.        Biochemistry.

The course is organized around several themes: the relationship of structure to function in biomolecules, production of energy, regulation and control of metabolism. Topics covered to illustrate these themes include enzyme action and regulation, hemoglobin and the transport of oxygen and carbon dioxide, metabolism of carbohydrates for energy production, structure and function of biological membranes, and structure and function of molecules involved in transmission and expression of genetic information. Prerequisite: CHEM 222 with a grade of 2.0 or higher or permission of instructor. Counts toward the neuroscience major (cellular track). Also offered as BIOCH 309 and BIOL 309.

324.      Synthesis of Pharmaceutical Substances.

The discovery and development of new medicines is fascinating and multifaceted, whether you are
primarily interested in chemistry, biology, healthcare, or societal impact. In this course, we will look at
the whole pharmaceuticals process, from identifying a biological target, to developing potential drug
candidates, conducting clinical trials, getting FDA approval, and beyond. This will include looking at the detailed chemical synthesis and molecular structures for specific medicines, some of the historical
inequities that are connected with drug development, and how government regulation of
pharmaceuticals manufacturing (or lack thereof) has contributed to health crises and influenced public trust in science-based medicine. While we will discuss many different topics, this course is an advanced
chemistry elective and a reasonable level of familiarity with introductory-level organic chemistry is
essential. Prerequisite: Chem 222 with a grade of 2.00 or higher. Offered in the spring but not all years.

341.        Quantum Chemistry.

A study of the curious consequences of quantization and the wave-particle duality of light and matter in chemical systems. Experimental evidence, usually collected from spectroscopic results, is used to understand the postulates of quantum chemistry and gain insight into the macroscopic properties of atoms and molecules. Topics include tunneling, molecular motions, quantum mechanical origins of orbitals and energy levels of the hydrogen atom, selection rules for spectroscopy and an introduction to computational methods. Offered only in the fall semester. Prerequisites: CHEM 104, PHYS 104 or 152, MATH 136.

342.        Thermodynamics and Kinetics.

This course introduces the mathematical and theoretical bases for chemical equilibria and kinetics. The extrema principle will be used to predict the direction of chemical equilibria in a wide variety of chemical and biochemical reactions. This principle shows that reactions which maximize entropy and minimize enthalpy are spontaneous. We will study several ways to calculate familiar quantities like Gibbs energy, as well as new, more sophisticated quantities like partition functions to better understand molecular driving forces. In the last part of the course, we will study reaction kinetics to determine the timescales and possible reaction mechanisms of favorable reactions. Offered only in the spring semester. Prerequisites: CHEM 104, PHYS 104 or 152, MATH 136.

351.     Advanced Organic Chemistry Laboratory: Synthesis, Separation, and Analysis. (0.5 unit)

This course is designed to introduce students to techniques in synthetic chemistry beyond what has
been encountered in CHEM 221 and 222. Students will gain experience synthesizing and characterizing small-molecule organic compounds, organometallic complexes, and polymers. This course also places a major emphasis on advanced nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic techniques, including heteronuclear and 2-dimensional NMR spectroscopy. Offered most but not all years, typically in the spring semester. Prerequisite: CHEM 222.

353.     Physical Chemistry Laboratory. (0.5 unit)

Laboratory experiments investigate questions in the fields of physical and biophysical chemistry. The lab has two central learning goals: develop your ability to design interesting and feasible research questions and learn how to use a variety of instruments. Spectroscopic methods such as ultraviolet-visible fluorescence, infrared, and Raman are used to characterize unknowns and understand the physical chemistry underlying chemical processes like protein denaturation and energy transfer between molecules. The final project is independent and will be developed in small groups. Discussion of primary literature is used to place experiments in the context of broader scientific knowledge, and to learn more about scientific writing. In writing assignments, data analysis and scientific reasoning are emphasized. This course is normally taken by second-semester juniors. Offered in the spring semester most but not all years. Prerequisites: CHEM 104 and 341 or 342.

354.   Advanced Organic Chemistry Synthesis Laboratory (0.5 unit)

Organic synthesis is the art and science of using simple molecular building-blocks to make complex,
valuable molecules. In CHEM 221 and 222, you have been exposed to standard organic reactions and
techniques. In Advanced Organic Synthesis Lab, you will: (1) apply previous knowledge to multi-step
synthesis; (2) develop the problem-solving skills needed for success in chemical research; and (3) learn
some of the more technically challenging reactions and techniques that you would encounter in either
an academic or industrial organic synthesis group. Not offered every year. Runs seven weeks.
Prerequisite: CHEM 222.


389, 390.    Research for Juniors. (0.5 unit)


394.       Research Methods in Biochemistry. (Chemistry majors must take this course for 0.5 unit or 1

This course focuses on introducing basic laboratory techniques and skills that are common in fields
related to biochemistry. Attention is paid to both theory and application. Students keep a detailed
laboratory notebook and write up an extended project in the style of a journal article. Prerequisites:
CHEM 222 and any one of BIOL 231, 245, 246, 250, 391, or CHEM 205 or CHEM 309 (which can be taken as a co-requisite). Required for the biochemistry major and also carries credit toward the biology major/minor and the chemistry major/minor. Offered only in the spring semester. Also offered as BIOL 394 and BIOCH 394.


4000-4999. Special Topics in Chemistry.


The content of each course or section of these 300-level or 400-level special topics courses varies and will be announced each semester.

415.     Advanced Biochemistry.

A variety of topics are covered in depth, depending on student interest. The course begins with an
overview of metabolism and its hormonal regulation. Other topics may include protein synthesis and
targeting, molecular immunology, sensory systems and neurotransmission, membrane transport, and
photosynthesis. Through both written and oral presentation, students develop their abilities to use the
scientific literature and communicate in science. Prerequisite: CHEM 309 or permission of instructor.
Counts toward neuroscience major (cellular track). Taught every other year in the spring (in even years)
Also offered as BIOCH 415.

451.       Advanced Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory (0.5 unit)

Laboratory experiments emphasize the synthesis, characterization, and properties of inorganic
compounds. The experiments include investigation of physical, thermodynamic and kinetic properties.
Use of air-free synthesis techniques will include use of Schlenk lines and glove box. Products of inorganic synthesis will be characterized by a variety of techniques that include ultraviolet-visible, infrared and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Advanced data analysis tools will be applied to experimental results. Written assignments develop rhetorical skills using chemical language, primary literature 107 sources, and practical data processing. Offered in the spring but not all years. Runs seven weeks. Prerequisite: CHEM 303 or permission of the instructor.

452.       Instrumental Analysis. (0.5 unit)

An advanced course emphasizing instrumentation in methods of chemical analysis. Principal
instrumental methods examined include absorption and emission spectrometry, electroanalytical
methods and chromatographic and other separation methods. Some introduction to analog and digital
signal processing principles and computer-assisted data acquisition and processing is presented. Two
lectures and two laboratories per week for one half of the fall semester. Pre-requisite CHEM 205 and co- requisite or Pre-requisite CHEM 341 (Quantum Chemistry) or CHEM 342 (Thermodynamics and Kinetics)

489, 490. SYE: Research for Seniors. (0.5 or 1 unit of academic credit)

Student research is at the heart of the chemistry curriculum and culminates in a year-long senior project carried out in close collaboration with a faculty mentor. In special cases, it is possible to complete the SYE in one semester with the approval of the advisor and the chair. Examples of recently completed senior projects can be found at the department’s Web page. For the senior project, students enroll each semester in Chemistry 489 or 490, for which they typically receive .5 unit of credit each. Students undertaking the American Chemical Society certified degree option must enroll in 489 or 490 and complete a project that involves original laboratory research.