Chemistry, a dynamic science constantly changing as discoveries are being made, is often referred to as the central science. The life sciences, physical sciences and earth sciences all demand an understanding of chemical principles. Chemistry seeks to answer fundamental questions about the makeup of all the materials that compose our world, from tiny atoms to giant galaxies. From such knowledge has come the ability to create materials fulfilling the needs of society. Some of these materials have never before been found on Earth! Along with the study of this exciting field, students find ample opportunities throughout our curriculum to develop skills in problem solving and critical thinking. These skills are essential for success in today's world.
The Chemistry Department is housed in spacious laboratories well-equipped with modern laboratory instrumentation and microcomputers. The Chemistry Program is supported by an excellent science library housed within the science complex and includes extensive bibliographic resources, both locally and through the Internet.
The Earlham College Chemistry Department offers a thorough grounding across the entire range of sub-disciplines: analytical, organic, inorganic, physical and biochemistry. Students interested in careers in biochemistry or health professions combine study in chemistry with additional courses in biology. Earlham's Chemistry Program is accredited by the American Chemical Society.
Research is at the heart of the Earlham College Chemistry experience whether it's during the academic year, full-time during the summer or for an entire semester at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. While on campus, students work collaboratively with faculty members on projects such as antioxidant properties of natural products, cloning and expression of genes for metalloproteins, analyses of heavy metals and pesticides in the environment, image acquisition and analysis, the design and synthesis of biologically and/or structurally interesting organic molecules, study of the interactions of peptides and biomolecules with synthetic cell membranes to help further understand cell function, and the synthesis and computational study of transition metal complexes. This collaborative research uses the most sensitive instrumentation and modern techniques available.
Some of the specialized equipment available for these projects, as well as for use in other regular Chemistry courses, includes infrared, atomic absorption, and rapid-scanning ultraviolet/visible spectrophotometers; gas chromatographs; high-performance and low-pressure liquid chromatographs; a GC-MS spectrometer; a high resolution tunable dye laser system; a dual-view ICP spectrophotometer; a 400 MHz NMR with tunable probe and variable temperature capabilities; a portable XRF system; and inert atmosphere gloveboxes.
The Department prepares alumni for a variety of careers, including medicine, teaching, scientific research in the chemical and biochemical fields and environmental science. More than 80 percent of our graduates go on to advanced study of chemistry, biochemistry, environmental chemistry, medicine or related fields; others enter the workforce directly in companies such as Roche, Chemstation and the Schepens Eye Research Institute. Recent graduates have gone on to Ph.D. programs at universities such as Harvard, Duke, Purdue, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Utah. Other graduates have entered M.D. and M.D.-Ph.D. programs at medical schools such as Case Western, Chicago, Harvard, Tulane, Baylor, Indiana, Johns Hopkins University and University of Pennsylvania.
Courses that fulfill
General Education Requirements:
- (A-AP) = Arts - Applied
- (A-TH) = Arts - Theoretical/Historical
- (A-AR) = Analytical - Abstract Reasoning
- (A-QR) = Analytical - Quantitative
- (D-D) = Diversity - Domestic
- (D-I) = Diversity - International
- (D-L) = Diversity - Language
- (ES) = Earlham Seminar
- (IE) = Immersive Experience
- (RCH) = Research
- (SI) = Scientific Inquiry
- (W) = Wellness
- (WI) = Writing Intensive
- (AY) = Offered in Alternative Year
*CHEM 111 PRINCIPLES OF CHEMISTRY (4 credits)
Designed as the entry course for the major. Core principles and interesting applications of chemistry combine to provide a conceptual understanding of chemistry for professional and everyday life. Principles of atomic and molecular structure, molecular energetics and classes of chemical reactions reviewed. Aspects of gas behavior, basic photochemistry and acid-base chemistry are applied to the study of environmental chemistry issues such as stratospheric ozone, the global greenhouse effect, acid rain and photochemical smog. Lab work includes the synthesis of compounds, the study of aqueous ions, titrations, and basic IR, visible and UV spectrophotometry. Learning outcomes include a strong understanding of core chemistry concepts and skills. (A-QR, SI)
*CHEM 150 EARLHAM SEMINAR (4 credits)
Offered for first-year students. Topics vary. (ES)
*CHEM 221 ORGANIC CHEMISTRY I (4 credits)
Introductory course designed for chemistry and biology majors as well as pre-health professionals. Focuses on basic structural and reactivity aspects in organic chemistry and their relationship to pharmaceuticals, agricultural chemicals and biological systems. Topics include stereochemistry, substitution, elimination and addition reactions. Weekly three-hour laboratory provides hands-on experience with modern organic methods and techniques. Learning outcomes include a working knowledge of basic organic chemistry concepts. Additionally, students will learn to take a ‘first principles’ approach to organic chemistry by using what they already know to derive more complex concepts and ideas. Prerequisite: Grade of C or better in CHEM 111 or consent of the instructor. (A-QR, SI)
*CHEM 321 ORGANIC CHEMISTRY II (4 credits)
A continuation of the sequence in organic chemistry. Focuses on more advanced structural aspects and reactivities in organic chemistry and their relationship to pharmaceuticals, agricultural chemical and biological systems. Topics include alcohol, carbonyl, amine and aromatic reactions, spectroscopy, drug design and synthetic methodology. Weekly three-hour laboratory introduces several additional modern synthesis, chromatography and spectroscopic (FT-IR, FT-NMR and GCMS) methods. A significant portion of the lab includes a student-designed synthesis and/or natural product isolation research project. Learning outcomes include a working knowledge of more complex organic chemistry concepts. Additionally, students will learn to take a ‘first principles’ approach to organic chemistry by using what they already know from Organic Chemistry I to derive more complex concepts and ideas. Prerequisite: Grade of C or better in CHEM 221 or consent of the instructor.(A-QR, RCH, SI)
*CHEM 331 EQUILIBRIUM AND ANALYSIS (5 credits)
Designed for chemistry majors, minors and pre-health professionals. Problem-based learning course designed to provide a working knowledge of the principles and practices of analytical chemistry. Covers two major themes: (1) the systematic treatment of chemical equilibrium in ionic systems, including acid-base, solubility, redox, and (2) methods of quantitative chemical analysis, which includes the theory and practice of volumetric analysis and modern instrumental methods of analysis (spectroscopy and chromatography techniques). Through both lecture and laboratory instruction, students will develop a theoretical foundation for a variety of methods of analytical chemistry as well as a proficiency in chemical laboratory techniques, and the ability to apply these to practical and current problems in research. The laboratory culminates in a three-week laboratory group project and a poster presentation. Learning outcomes include a strong quantitative understanding of chemical processes and instrumentation. This includes the ability to design, conduct, analyze, critically evaluate the results of, and present an analytical chemistry research project. Prerequisite: Grade of C or better in CHEM 111 or consent of the instructor. (A-QR, RCH, SI)
CHEM 341 THERMODYNAMICS AND KINETICS (4 credits)
In the first two-thirds of the course, learning goals include taking the concepts of enthalpy, entropy and free energy and developing them as a basis for understanding the nature of chemical stability. In the last third of the course, learning goals include applying tools of rate measurement and analysis to understand chemical reactivity. Laboratory work learning goals include the application of calorimetric, potentiometric and spectrophotometric methods to study of thermodynamic and kinetic problems. Several applications utilizing computer-interfaced measurements are included. Learning outcomes include demonstrating a strong understanding of thermodynamics and kinetics concepts. This includes, but is not limited to, a quantitative understanding of the basic laws of thermodynamics. Prerequisites: Grade of C or better in CHEM 331, MATH 180 and either PHYS 220 or 225.
CHEM 351 BIOCHEMISTRY (4 credits)
Intended for students majoring in chemistry, biology or the health professions. Explores the role of chemistry in life processes. Topics and learning goals include, but are not limited to: detailed understanding of protein structure, enzyme mechanisms and kinetics, and cancer mechanisms. Laboratory work learning goals include, but are not limited to: buffer making, protein purification techniques, kinetic measurement methods, and FTIR spectroscopy. Learning outcomes include a working knowledge of biochemistry and the ability to think critically about and solve biochemistry related problems as a team. Prerequisites: Grade of C or better in CHEM 321 and 331 or consent of the instructor.
CHEM 361 INORGANIC CHEMISTRY (4 credits)
Students will conduct a systematic examination of the chemical elements and their compounds, with an emphasis on periodicity of properties. Learning goals include, but are not limited to, examining bonding theories, group theory and reaction mechanisms. Particular emphasis on the coordination compounds and organometallic compounds of transition metals. Other topics and learning goals include bioinorganic chemistry and solid-state chemistry. Labs explore synthesis and characterization of inorganic compounds. Learning outcomes include the successful understanding of the indicated goals. Prerequisites: Grade of C or better in CHEM 321 and 331 or consent of the instructor. (WI)
CHEM 371 ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY AND TOXICOLOGY (4 credits)
A study of natural and unnatural chemical substances in the environment with particular emphasis on the problem of chemical pollution and its health consequences. Includes air pollution, global warming, water quality, heavy metals, pesticide residues and other organic compounds. Principles of chemical equilibrium and reaction mechanisms emphasized. Learning goals include applying chemical principles and critical thinking to understanding and addressing complex environmental problems, and utilization of modern information sources and modeling software to these problems. Prerequisites: Grade of C or better in CHEM 221 and 331 or consent of the instructor. (RCH) (AY)
CHEM 421 ADVANCED ORGANIC CHEMISTRY (3 credits)
A look at advanced concepts of organic chemistry through the use of rotating central topics in different years. Topics include spectroscopy, agricultural and pharmaceutical chemicals, or natural product syntheses. Students discover how organic chemistry is intimately involved in a variety of other fields, including biology and medicine. Learning outcomes include a working knowledge of advanced spectroscopy methods of structure elucidation and identification. Students will also learn several of the most current and modern advanced synthesis methods. Goals also include critical reading and evaluation of current primary literature in organic synthesis. Prerequisites: Grade of C or better in CHEM 321.
CHEM 431 ADVANCED ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY (4 credits)
The goal of this course is a systematic study of modern instrumental methods of chemical analysis with emphasis on the principles of operation of the instruments and their use for the analysis of real substances. Topics and learning goals include, but are not limited to, atomic and molecular spectroscopy, gas and liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry. Laboratory skills and learning goals include extensive hands-on experience with major analytical instrumentation: UV-Vis absorption, AAS, ICP-AES, GC and HPLC as well as important instrumentation construction skills such as data acquisition and control, electronics and the use of the machine shop. Emphasizes study of complex mixtures and the special problems of trace-level analysis. Learning outcomes include the successful understanding of the indicated goals. Prerequisites: Grade of C or better in CHEM 331. Also recommended: PHYS 230 or 235. (RCH) (AY)
CHEM 441 QUANTUM CHEMISTRY (3 credits)
Topics and learning goals include, but are not limited to, the study of the quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics as applied to chemical systems. In quantum mechanics, a range of problems is studied, from the simple particle-in-a-box case to the hydrogen atom, pi-electron systems, and time-dependent systems. With statistical mechanics, the molecular view of matter is linked to the energetics of chemical equilibrium systems. Learning outcomes include the successful understanding of the indicated goals. Prerequisites: CHEM 341, MATH 180 and PHYS 225. (RCH)
CHEM 480 SEMINAR (2 credits)
A study of recent research topics in chemistry based on primary sources. Each student to make at least one oral report. Topics and learning goals include, but are not limited to, the study of professional ethics, preparation of a portfolio for future education or employment, and preparation for comprehensive exams. Learning outcomes include preparing majors for work or graduate school in chemistry or a related field. Students also review their chemistry knowledge in preparation for comprehensive exams and they learn to communicate their research experiences both in writing and orally.
CHEM 481 INTERNSHIPS, FIELD STUDIES AND OTHER FIELD EXPERIENCES (1-3 credits)
CHEM 482 SPECIAL TOPICS (3 credits)
Selected topics determined by the instructor for upper-level study.
CHEM 483 TEACHING ASSISTANTS (0-1 credit)
CHEM 484 FORD/KNIGHT RESEARCH (1-3 credits)
Collaborative research with faculty funded by the Ford/Knight Program. (IE)
CHEM 485 INDEPENDENT STUDY (1-3 credits)
A literature investigation of a specific topic conceived and planned by the student in consultation with a faculty supervisor. Culminates in a comprehensive report prepared in the style of a thesis or a scientific paper.
CHEM 486 STUDENT RESEARCH (1-3 credits)
A laboratory investigation of a specific topic conceived and planned by the student in consultation with a faculty supervisor. Culminates in a comprehensive report prepared in the style of a thesis or a scientific paper. (IE)
CHEM 488 SENIOR CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE (0 credit)
Majors must successfully complete comprehensive examinations in the Spring Semester of the Senior year.