Earlham College | Biochemistry
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Collaborative research: Forging solutions to world problems

Overview   |   Opportunities   |   Meet An Earlhamite   |   Our Faculty   |   Plan of Study   |   Courses  


If you are seeking a career in medicine, research or biotechnology, consider Earlham's Biochemistry program which combines studies in chemistry and biology.

Our major is particularly popular with students who are planning to attend medical school, veterinary school, and public health or other health science fields.

The biochemistry major provides students with a strong foundation in cell biology, molecular biology, and chemistry with a strong emphasis on research and hands-on learning.

Renovated in 2013 at the cost of $17.6 million, Stanley Hall has modernized and reconfigured labs for optimal collaboration between chemistry, biology and biochemistry. Beginning in the first semester, our students utilize a wide variety of state-of-the-art instrumentation.


Earlham ranks in the top ten in the U.S. for the percentage of our graduates who earn doctorates in the life sciences.

Biochemistry majors are encouraged to study abroad. Science faculty members have led semester-long off-campus programs to Tanzania, England, Oak Ridge, France and New Zealand.

Our students have access to paid internships at locations such as the Herman B. Wells Center for Pediatric Research and the Indiana University School of Medicine Stark Neuroscience Research Institute.

Recent graduates have entered M.D. or Ph.D. programs at Harvard University, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin and others.

Special Learning Opportunities

Numerous Earlham students have presented their research at recent national and regional meetings as well as a variety of other local sponsored symposia.

Faculty members in the biochemistry program have published in wide variety of peer-reviewed journals and have been funded extramurally by both government and private institutions.

Students have completed internships with such local organizations as, Belden Industries, Cope Environmental Center, Indianapolis Art Museum Conservation Laboratory, Reid Hospital, Richmond Friends School and Wayne County Health Clinic.

Students are encouraged to study abroad. Science faculty members have led semester-long off-campus programs (e.g. Tanzania, England, Oak Ridge, France, and New Zealand) and shorter expeditions during May Term and on Ford/Knight projects (e.g. Peru, Borneo, Bahamas, Galapagos Islands, Nebraska Sandhills, and Yellowstone National Park).

Research is at the heart of the Earlham College Biochemistry 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. Students have also traveled to other parts of the world (e.g. China and Chile) with faculty to conduct research. Participating in one or more of these programs has certainly been transformative to students.

Meet An Earlhamite

John Sakoleros
A Physician's Path

On career day in elementary school, John Sakaleros ’20 wore hospital scrubs. He wanted to look like a doctor. As a tall youngster, he already filled out the uniform pretty well.

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Ruby Laskin
Rising to the Challenge

Ruby Laskin '08, a medical student at Temple University, says the Earlham faculty believed that she could become a physician — even before she believed it herself.

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Sydney McBride
Helping People Through Science

Sydney McBride '15 plans to use her interest in science to help people by pursuing a medical career. Earlham was McBride's choice because Earlhamites enjoy a high percentage of acceptance into one of their top 3 choices for graduate or professional school.

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Our Faculty

Peter Blair
Professor of Biology; Co-Director, Center for Global Health and the Integrated Program in Health Sciences

Corinne Deibel
Professor of Chemistry

Mike Deibel
Interim Dean of the Faculty; Professor of Chemistry; Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs

Lindsey McGee
Assistant Professor of Biology

Bob Rosenberg
Professor of Biology

Kalani Seu
Associate Professor of Chemistry

Emmett Smith
Assistant Professor of Biology

Mark Stocksdale
Professor of Chemistry

Lori Watson
Professor of Chemistry

Plan of Study

First-Year Students

Students interested in majoring in Biochemistry should speak with a faculty member in the Biology or Chemistry departments early in their undergraduate career. Faculty will help lay out a four-year plan that includes required courses, elective courses, opportunities for off-campus study, and possible internships. Early consultation is important to sequencing of several courses so that off-campus study remains an option. In general, students should take CHEM 111 in their first semester, and CHEM 221 and BIOL 112 in their second semester.

The Major

All of the following Chemistry courses:

  • CHEM 111 General Chemistry
  • CHEM 221 Organic Chemistry I
  • CHEM 321 Organic Chemistry II
  • CHEM 331 Equilibrium and Analysis
  • CHEM 351 Biochemistry

AND one of the following in Chemistry:

  • CHEM 341 Thermodynamics and Kinetics (recommended)
  • CHEM 361 Inorganic Chemistry
  • CHEM 371 Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology
  • CHEM 431 Advanced Analytical Chemistry
  • Other special courses as offered by prior arrangement with Chemistry faculty

AND both of the following Biology courses:

  • BIOL 112 Cells, Genes and Inheritance
  • BIOL 341 Cell Physiology

AND at least one course from each of the two lists that follow, totaling at least 7 credits:

Choose one from:

  • BIOL 226 Biological Diversity
  • BIOL 384 Developmental Biology
  • BIOL 460 Plant Cell Biology
  • BIOL 461 Microbiology
  • BIOL 462 Parasitology

AND choose one from:

  • BIOL 343 Immunology
  • BIOL 345 Anatomy and Physiology I: Nervous and Endocrine OR
    BIOL 347 Anatomy and Physiology II: Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Renal and Digestive
  • BIOL 383 Bioinformatics
  • BIOL 464 Advanced Cell Physiology
  • BIOL 465 Advanced Cell Physiology Laboratory
  • BIOL 466 Molecular Genetics
  • Other special courses as offered by prior arrangement with Biology faculty


  • MATH 180 Calculus A OR MATH 120 Elementary Statistics OR MATH 300 Advanced Statistics OR PSYC 245 Research Methods and Statistics
  • Either PHYS 125 and 235 Analytical Physics I and II (recommended);
    OR PHYS 120 and 230 General Physics I and II
  • Either BIOL 480 Seminar
    OR CHEM 480 Seminar
  • An independent research project is also required. This may be accomplished as an independent study in Biology or Chemistry, as a summer research experience on- or off-campus, as an approved Ford/Knight Research Project or as a semester off-campus program such as the Oak Ridge Program. Careful early planning with your adviser should be done to determine the best option for the research experience. A presentation of the research in a public forum is expected.
  • Comprehensive Examinations must also be successfully completed.

Note: Students with AP, IB or transfer credits in Chemistry, Biology, Physics or Calculus should be in contact with a faculty member in a related program.


* Key

Courses that fulfill
General Education Requirements:

  • (A-AR) = Analytical - Abstract Reasoning
  • (A-QR) = Analytical - Quantitative
  • (D-D) = Diversity - Domestic
  • (D-I) = Diversity - International
  • (D-L) = Diversity - Language
  • (RCH) = Research
  • (W) = Wellness
  • (WI) = Writing Intensive
  • (AY) = Offered in Alternative Year

An overview of cell structure and function and the principles of inheritance, including such topics as transmission genetics, DNA structure, central dogma, regulation of gene expression, meiosis and mitosis, protein function, cell cycle and recombinant DNA techniques. Lab emphasizes inquiry-based experiments and contemporary techniques. Offered Spring Semester.

A survey of plants, animals, fungi, protists and bacteria emphasizing basic principles in organismal biology. Topics include origin of life, evolution, structure and function, homeostatic mechanisms, reproduction and life history phenomena and systematics. Lab. Offered Spring Semester.

BIOL 341 CELL PHYSIOLOGY (4 credits)
An examination of basic principles of cell physiology. Topics include thermodynamics, enzyme mechanisms, photosynthesis, cellular respiration, coupling of ATP hydrolysis to cellular reactions, regulation of protein function, membrane structure, cell signaling, and neural and muscular activity. Lab emphasizes inquiry-based experiments and contemporary techniques. Prerequisites: BIOL 112 and CHEM 221 or consent of the instructor. Offered Fall Semester.

BIOL 343 IMMUNOLOGY (3 credits)
An introduction to the biology of the immune system, including cells and tissues, activation, differentiation and specificity, effector mechanisms, immunity to microbes, autoimmunity, immunodeficiency and AIDS, evolution, hypersensitivity and transplantation. A non-lab course. Prerequisites: BIOL 112 and CHEM 221. Offered once every three semesters.

An in-depth study of the structures and functions of human nervous, sensory, muscular and endocrine systems. Each system is covered at the molecular, cellular, organ and organism levels. Labs include extensive hands-on studies of human anatomy. Prerequisite: BIOL 341. Offered Spring Semester.

An in-depth study of the structures and functions of human cardiovascular, respiratory, renal and digestive systems. Each system is covered at the molecular, cellular, organ and organism levels. Labs include physiology experiments, research projects, and hands-on studies of human anatomy. Prerequisite: BIOL 341. Offered Fall Semester.

A study of processes, structures and functions unique to plant cells. Topics may include specialized organelles and cell types, carbohydrate metabolism, signal transduction, genomics, and fertilization and early development. Emphasis on photosynthesis and other responses to light. Includes reading and presenting research. Biology-Chemistry interdepartmental majors note: If BIOL 226 is selected from the course options in list A, a course other than Plant Cell Biology must be chosen to fulfill the requirements for the Major. Prerequisites: BIOL 341 and CHEM 221. Offered once every three semesters.

BIOL 461 MICROBIOLOGY (4 credits)
A study of bacteria and viruses focusing on microbial physiology, growth, replication, genetics, ecology, pathogenesis, evolution, systematics, impact on global health, and historical and modern techniques. Laboratory sessions present skills in the craft of microbiology including laboratory safety, sterile technique, microbial culturing and staining, isolation and identification of unknown bacteria, antimicrobial activity and biochemical analyses. Lab. Prerequisite: BIOL 341. Offered once every three semesters.

BIOL 462 PARASITOLOGY (4 credits)
A study of the general biology of the parasitic protozoans, helminths and arthropods of humans and domestic animals. Detailed discussions of parasite pathology, physiology, life cycles, diagnosis, therapeutics, control strategies and total impact on global health (humans and domestic animals). Laboratory includes visualization of representative taxa, morphology, culturing methods, applied diagnostics, parasite genomics and modern molecular techniques. Prerequisite: BIOL 341. Offered once every three semesters.

Begins with detailed examinations of protein structure and activity, transcription and translation. Selected "hot" topics, including mechanisms of cell-cell signaling, protein sorting within cells, regulation of cell cycle, apoptosis, and cellular mechanisms of memory and learning. Emphasis on reading, presenting and discussing original research papers. Prerequisite: BIOL 341. Offered once every three semesters.

Project-based lab course that examines various aspects of cell structure and function using contemporary techniques. Recent projects have included isolation and purification of bacterially expressed proteins, analysis of protease inhibitors, measurements of phagocytosis by insect hemocytes. Techniques have included bacterial culture, centrifugation, column chromatography, SDS-PAGE, Western transfer and analysis, fluorescence microscopy and cell culture. May be taken concurrently with BIOL 464. Lab. Prerequisite: BIOL 341.

Covers DNA and RNA structure and functions, mutation, genetic code, molecular basis of recombination, genome organization, replication, gene regulation and recombinant DNA technology. A non-lab course. Prerequisites: BIOL 341 and CHEM 221. Offered once every three semesters.

Core principles and interesting applications of chemistry combine to provide a conceptual understanding of chemistry. 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, simple calorimetry, titrations, basic IR, visible and UV spectrophotometry, and studies of acid rain. (A-QR)

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. Prerequisite: Grade of C or better in CHEM 111 or consent of instructor. (A-QR)

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 chemicals 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. Prerequisite: Grade of C or better in CHEM 221 or consent of the instructor. (A-QR)

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 the modern instrumental methods of analysis used in industrial analytical laboratories (spectroscopy and chromatography techniques). Culminates in a three-week laboratory group project and a poster presentation. Prerequisite: Grade of C or better in CHEM 111 or consent of the instructor. (A-QR)

In the first two-thirds of the course, concepts of enthalpy, entropy and free energy are developed as a basis for understanding the nature of chemical stability. In the last third of the course, the tools of rate measurement and analysis are used to understand chemical reactivity. Laboratory work includes the application of calorimetric, potentiometric and spectrophotometric methods to study thermodynamic and kinetic problems. Includes several applications utilizing computer-interfaced measurements. Prerequisites: Grade of C or better in CHEM 331, MATH 180 and either PHYS 230 or 235.

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 include protein structure, enzyme mechanisms and kinetics, and membrane structure and transport. Prerequisites: Grade of C or better in CHEM 321 and 331 or consent of the instructor.

A systematic examination of the chemical elements and their compounds, with an emphasis on periodicity of properties. Examines bonding theories, group theory and reaction mechanisms. Particular emphasis on the coordination compounds and organometallic compounds of transition metals. Other topics include bioinorganic chemistry and solid state chemistry. Labs explore synthesis and characterization of inorganic compounds. Prerequisites: Grade of C or better in CHEM 321 and 331 or consent of the instructor.

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. Prerequisites: Grade of C or better in CHEM 221 and 331 or consent of the instructor. (AY)

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 include atomic and molecular spectroscopy, gas and liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. Laboratory provides extensive hands-on experience with major analytical instrumentation: UV-Vis absorption, AAS, ICP-AES, GC and HPLC. Emphasizes study of complex mixtures and the special problems of trace-level analysis. Prerequisite: Grade of C or better in CHEM 331. Also recommended: PHYS 230 or 235. (AY)

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. Includes study of professional ethics, preparation of a portfolio for future education or employment, and preparation for comprehensive exams.

Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admission


Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.