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Chemistry and Biochemistry

Modern chemistry is an interdisciplinary subject with roots in physics and mathematics and with applications in biology, geology, neuroscience, and a wide range of technology. The courses for Chemistry and Biochemistry majors are designed to emphasize the fundamental principles of the science and their application to observed phenomena. These courses develop chemical reasoning and experimental skills, reflect chemistry's interdisciplinary nature, and prepare students for success in graduate or professional programs.

Chemistry is an experimental science. Graduate study in chemistry is centered on the research thesis, and most chemists engage in research themselves or make use of the results of research. Physicians and others who use chemical material should have some experience in research in order to evaluate the results of research. Accordingly, opportunities are provided, and students are strongly encouraged to gain research experience through an in-term research project, summer research, a Winter Term project, or a combination of these.

A major in chemistry or biochemistry can lead to a variety of careers besides chemical or biochemical research. Among these are medicine, teaching, patent law, business, and interdisciplinary sciences such as molecular biology, environmental science, pharmacology, toxicology, materials science, geochemistry, and chemical physics.

ACS Approved. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is approved by the American Chemical Society and certifies graduates who satisfy the ACS guidelines. For certification, Chemistry majors must take, in addition to the minimum major requirements: Chemistry 254, and a year of research with a comprehensive written report. For certification, Biochemistry majors must take, in addition to the minimum major requirements: a year of research with a comprehensive written report.

Advanced Placement. Students with good preparation in chemistry should apply for admission to Chemistry 103, a one-semester course that takes the place of Chemistry 101, 102. Entering students who have scored 3 on the Chemistry Advanced Placement examination of the Educational Testing Service can receive four hours of transfer credit (equivalent to 101) and can begin college chemistry with 102 or 103. Students entering with Chemistry AP scores of 4 or 5 can receive eight hours of transfer credit (equivalent to 101, 102).

Entry-Level Course Sequence Suggestions. Chemistry 050, 145, 151, and 163 (FYSP 114) are courses of general interest which do not presume any prior knowledge of chemistry and are aimed at non-science majors. Chemistry 050, 145, or 151 may serve as a bridge to 101 for students who have not had high-school chemistry. Most students who major in a science and most premedical students begin their study of college chemistry in the first year with 101, 102 (or 103), which is open also to other students who want a thorough introduction to the subject.

All potential majors are strongly advised to complete 101, 102 (or 103) and at least Mathematics 133 in the first year. Potential Chemistry majors should take Physics 103, 104 (or 110, 111) in the sophomore year and should complete Mathematics 134 by the end of the sophomore year. Potential Biochemistry majors should take Biology 118/119 or 120 no later than the sophomore year and should complete the mathematics and physics requirements as early as possible.

All majors should take careful note of prerequisites for later courses. For example, physical chemistry depends upon prior work in mathematics and physics as well as a background in general chemistry. Majors who plan to take advanced courses in chemistry or in other sciences, including research courses, find their senior-year schedules most manageable if they take physical chemistry in the junior year.

Major. The Chemistry Department offers two majors, chemistry and biochemistry.

Chemistry. The minimum major in chemistry requires Chemistry 101, 102 (103 may replace 101, 102), 205, 211, 213, and 339. Nine hours of advanced courses from the following list also are required, including at least two hours from each of the two categories and one advanced laboratory course (327 or 341). Category I: 254, 325, 326, 327, 405; Category II: 341, 343, 349, 361, 409. The major also requires Mathematics 134 and Physics 103, 104 (or 110, 111). Students may not count toward the major more than one chemistry course in which they received a D.

Biochemistry. The minimum major in biochemistry requires Chemistry 101, 102 (103 may replace 101, 102), 205, 211, 213, 254, 339 (or 349), and 374; Biology 213/214; Mathematics 134; Physics 110, 111 (or 103, 104). Students may not count toward the major more than one chemistry course in which they received a D.

The minimum major in chemistry or biochemistry will prepare students for graduate study. However, the best preparation for competitive graduate programs involves additional advanced courses and laboratory work, related courses in other departments, and research experience. The latter may be accomplished through a summer research experience, a semester or two of research (Chemistry 525, 526), or an on-campus or off-campus Winter Term project.

Chemistry and Biochemistry majors are encouraged to take additional mathematics courses such as multivariable calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, and statistics. Majors planning to pursue graduate studies in biochemistry or molecular biology should consider upper-level biology courses such as molecular genetics, immunology, and microbiology. The specific courses chosen will depend in part on the intended area of specialization.

Each semester the Chemistry Department sponsors a program of Wednesday afternoon research talks by visiting chemists and biochemists. Majors are expected to attend.

Minor. Majors in other departments or programs (but not chemistry or biochemistry majors) may earn a minor in chemistry by completing general chemistry (101 and 102, or 103) and three courses from the following list: 205, 211, 213, 254 (or 325), 339, 349, 374. Students must earn at least a C– in each of these courses. Two of the elective courses must be taken at Oberlin. A formal chemistry minor may be helpful to non-chemistry majors seeking entry-level jobs in chemical industry, secondary-school teaching, or science journalism, as well as those students who plan further education in technological aspects of law, art, or other disciplines.

Honors. Students with outstanding records are invited to participate in the Honors Program. Seniors in the program elect a minimum of five hours of Chemistry 525, 526, or the equivalent (with at least two hours in the first semester) and work year-long (including Winter Term) on a research project. Honors students write a thesis based on their research and take an oral examination. Honors students are required to take Chemical Information, Chemistry 396, prior to enrolling in Chemistry 526.

Related Programs.
Pre-Medical. Pre-medical students planning to major in chemistry or biochemistry should arrange a conference with the pre-medical advisor in chemistry (Mr. Fuchsman) no later than their fourth semester. See the pre-medical statement earlier in this catalog.

3-2 Engineering. Students who are interested in a career in chemical engineering should consider the Combined Liberal Arts and Engineering Program. This five-year program is described in this catalog under the heading Engineering. Mr. Ackermann can provide advice on courses that lead to both the Combined Program and a Chemistry major.

Transfer of Credit. Prior approval is required for major coursework taken away from Oberlin. Without explicit approval from the Chemistry Department, no major may earn more than half of the hours required for the major while away from Oberlin. Normally, transfer credit for chemistry courses numbered 300 and above will not count toward the requirements of the Chemistry or Biochemistry majors.

Winter Term. Each chemistry faculty member is willing to sponsor Winter Term projects as indicated. Mr.Elrod: Laboratory projects in atmospheric chemistry. Mr. Fuchsman: Laboratory projects in biochemistry. Off-campus projects involving experience in health-health-care delivery, medical research or biochemical research. Intermediate/advanced weaving at the Loom Shed in Oberlin under the direction of Charles Lermond. Mr. Hill: Development of laboratory experiments; Off campus projects: social service agencies, work with physicians, fire ant research in Florida. Mr. Nee: Laboratory projects in introductory and organic chemistry. Consumer, food and polymer chemistry Mr. Thompson: Laboratory and reading projects dealing with chemical analysis and forensic science, beginning chess, and veterinary internships.

Breakage Charge. Students are held responsible for apparatus issued to them in laboratories. Each student has a breakage allowance that covers normal breakage of common glassware and the like. Breakage costs exceeding that allowance are charged at the end of the semester.


Courses of General Interest

050. Basic Chemistry
3 hours, 3NS, QPh
Second Semester.

The course is intended for students without a high-school chemistry background who want an introduction to chemistry. The course is appropriate for students who plan to take CHEM 101 and for students who intend no further study of chemistry. It consists of lectures and demonstrations surveying the fundamental ideas of chemistry. Note: Not open to students who have credit for CHEM 101 or equivalent. Enrollment Limit: 40.
Staff


145. Chemistry and Crime
3 hours, 3NS
Second Semester.

Principles of evidence collection, physical and chemical forensic tests, and instrumental techniques as applied to criminal investigations. Important criminal cases and societal issues, such as drunk driving and drug testing, with a focus on the science involved. Chemical concepts will be developed as needed. Enrollment Limit: 40.
Mr. Thompson


151. Chemistry and the Environment
3 hours, 3NS
Second Semester.

A discussion of the natural and human origins of significant chemical species in the environment and the ultimate fate of these materials. Air and water quality will receive special attention. Chemical concepts will be developed as needed. Enrollment Limit: 40.
Mr. Elrod

FYSP 114. Origins and Treatment of Cancer
4 hours, 4NS, WR
First Semester.

For description, please see "First-Year Seminar Program" in this catalog. Enrollment Limit: 14.
Mr. Fuchsman


Introductory Courses

101. Structure and Reactivity
4 hours, 4NS, QPh
First Semester.

Reactions, chemical periodicity, bonding, molecular structure. Prerequisites: High-school chemistry or consent of instructors; high-school mathematics up to, but not including, pre-calculus. Note: Students must register for both lecture and laboratory. Mr. Thompsons's sections are taught in workshop mode, emphasizing problem solving and peer discussion with less time devoted to lecture compared to other sections.
Mr. Fuchsman, Mr. Thompson, Staff.
Enrollment Limit (Lecture): 40.
Mr. Hill, Staff.
Enrollment Limit (Lab): 42.


102. Chemical Principles
4 hours, 4NS, QPf
Second Semester.

Equilibrium, thermodynamics, reaction rates and mechanisms, atomic and molecular orbitals. Prerequisite: C– or better in CHEM 101. Note: Students must register for both lecture and laboratory.
Mr. Belitsky, Ms. Whelan.
Enrollment Limit (Lecture): 40 and 70.
Mr. Belitsky, Mr. Hill.
Enrollment Limit (Lab): 40.


103. Topics in General Chemistry
4 hours, 4NS, QPf
First Semester.

For students with good pre-college preparation. Reactions, equilibrium, thermodynamics, reaction rates and mechanisms, and bonding. Takes the place of CHEM 101, CHEM 102. Admission by examination during the orientation period. Students who have had chemistry in high school and who plan to take both chemistry and calculus should take the examination. Students who earned a score of 3 or higher on the Chemistry Advanced Placement test automatically qualify for the course. Interested students should write to the departmental secretary early in the summer. Prerequisite: Concurrent enrollment or credit for MATH 133 or equivalent. Consent of instructor required.
Mr. Ackermann


Core Courses

205. Principles of Organic Chemistry
4 hours, 4NS
First and Second Semester.

A one-semester introduction to the basic principles, theories, and applications of the chemistry of carbon compounds. Representative reactions, preparation, and properties of carbon compounds will be covered. The laboratory will provide experience with purification, physical and spectroscopic characterization, and synthesis of organic substances. Prerequisite: C– or better in CHEM 102 or 103. Note: Students must register for both lecture and laboratory.
Mr. Nee. Enrollment Limit: 60 (Lecture); 30 (Lab).
Staff. Enrollment Limit: 40 (Lecture); 24 (Lab).


211. Analytical Chemistry
4 hours, 4NS, QPf
First Semester.

Principles of chemical measurements with a focus on instrumental analysis, including spectrophotometry, electrochemistry and separations. Laboratory develops quantitative skills and provides experience with chemical instrumentation. Spreadsheets are used to treat experimental data. Prerequisites: C– or better in MATH 133 and in CHEM 102 or CHEM 103. Note: Students must register for both lecture and laboratory. Enrollment Limit: 28 (Lecture); 14 (Lab).
Ms. Whelan


213. Inorganic Chemistry
4 hours, 4NS
Second Semester.

Development of the principles and theories of inorganic chemistry. Topics include atomic structure, structure and bonding in covalent and ionic compounds, periodic properties, acid-base concepts, coordination compounds, and selected descriptive chemistry of the main group elements. Laboratory involves synthesis and characterization of inorganic substances and activities illustrating principles covered in the lecture. Prerequisite: C– or better in CHEM 102 or 103. Note: Students must register for both lecture and laboratory. Enrollment Limit: 32 (Lecture); 16 (Lab).
Ms. Oertel


339. Quantum Chemistry and Kinetics
4 hours, 4NS, QPf
Second Semester.

Kinetics of chemical reactions, quantum theory of atomic and molecular structure, and molecular spectroscopy.
Prerequisites: C– or better in CHEM 102 or CHEM 103, in PHYS 111 or PHYS 104 (may be taken concurrently) and in MATH 134. Note: Students must register for both lecture and laboratory.
Mr. Elrod

Advanced Courses, Category I

254. Bioorganic Chemistry
4 hours, 4NS
Second Semester.

Organic chemistry of the major classes of biological substances. Emphases on structures and reaction mechanisms as they apply to biological transformations. Includes the chemistry of macromolecules, and coordination chemistry. Prerequisite: C– or better in CHEM 205. Note: Students must register for both lecture and laboratory. Enrollment Limit: 60 (Lecture); 30 (Lab).
Mr. Fuchsman


325. Organic Mechanism and Synthesis
3 hours, 3NS
Second Semester.

This second course in organic chemistry will systematically explore reactions of carbon-containing compounds and the mechanistic pathways involved in these processes. Reactions and topics that will be discussed include functional group transformations, oxidations, reductions, cycloadditions, stereospecific reactions and carbon-carbon bond formation. Strategies will be presented for the design of multi-step organic syntheses. Prerequisite: C– or better in CHEM 205.
Mr. Nee


326. Organic Mechanism and Synthesis Laboratory
1 hour, 1NS
Second Semester.

The laboratory is intended to complement the Organic Mechanism and Synthesis lecture course. Laboratory involves experiments illustrating principles presented in the lecture course.
Pre- or Co-requisite: CHEM 325 or permission of instructor. Note: CR/NE or P/NP grading. Enrollment Limit: 12.
Mr. Nee

327. Synthesis Laboratory
3 hours, 3NS
First Semester.

Laboratory work involves the synthesis of organic and inorganic compounds by a variety of techniques (e.g. photochemical, electrochemical, inert atmosphere) and the use of spectroscopic methods (e.g. Fourier-transform NMR, infrared, and ultraviolet) for their characterization. The lectures develop the theory and unified application of spectroscopic analysis to solve structural problems.
Prerequisites: C– or better in CHEM 205 and CHEM 213. Enrollment Limit: 8.
Mr. Ackermann


405. Topics in Organic Chemistry
2 hours, 2NS
First Semester.

This course will examine several areas of current research activity in organic chemistry. The course readings will be taken from the recent literature. Topics will include asymmetric synthesis, combinatorial chemistry, molecular recognition, biomimetic chemistry and reactive intermediates. Classes will be equally divided between lecture and discussion/student presentation. Prerequisite: C– or better in CHEM 325, in CHEM 339 or consent of instructor.
Staff

Advanced Courses, Category II

341. Trace Analysis
3 hours, 3NS
Second Semester.

Chemical analysis with a focus on nanoscale volumes and concentrations. Electrochemistry, laser spectroscopy, and mass spectrometry as applied to environmental and clinical samples. Lecture/discussion format. Prerequisite: C– or better in CHEM 211. Enrollment Limit: 12.
Mr. Thompson


343. Advanced Inorganic Chemistry
2 hours, 2NS

Next offered 2006-2007.


349. Chemical and Statistical Thermodynamics
3 hours, 3NS, QPf
First Semester.

Thermodynamics, introduction to statistical thermodynamics, and kinetic theory. Application of mathematical methods and physical principles to chemistry.
Prerequisites: C– or better in CHEM 102 or CHEM 103, in PHYS 111 or PHYS 104 and in MATH 134.
Staff


361. Topics in Analytical Chemistry
2 hours, 2NS
Second Semester.

Recent developments in bioanalytical chemistry will be examined. Readings will be drawn from the chemical literature. Topics include biosensors (and other methods using molecular recognition), proteomics, and in vivo analysis. Class time will be divided between lecture and discussion/student presentation. Prerequisite: C– or better in CHEM 211.
Ms. Whelan


409. Topics in Physical Chemistry
2 hours, 2NS, QPf
First Semester.

Physical chemistry of the atmosphere will be explored using thermodynamic, kinetic and quantum chemistry modeling techniques. Prerequisite: C– or better in CHEM 339 or consent of instructor.
Mr. Elrod

Other Advanced Courses

374. Biochemistry
4 hours, 4NS
First Semester.

Rigorous examination of the chemical basis of enzyme catalysis, metabolism and metabolic control, and aspects of molecular biology. General principles, specific detailed examples, and phylogenetic comparisons. Prerequisite: C– or better in CHEM 254, in BIOL 213 and in BIOL 214. Note: Students must register for both lecture and laboratory. Enrollment Limit: 36.
Mr. Belitsky


396. Chemical Information
1 hour, 1NS
First Semester. First Module.

Finding chemical information with printed and electronic indexes and reference materials. Online searching of Chemical Abstracts. Assessing the information obtained. Presenting chemical information using equation-editing and chemical-structure software. Prerequisites: C– or better in CHEM 205 and in one other core chemistry course. Notes: Junior majors are encouraged to enroll. CR/NE or P/NP grading. Enrollment Limit: 20.
Mr. Thompson, Ms. Ricker


525, 526. Research
1-5 hours, 1-5NS
First and Second Semester.

Projects for original investigation are assigned. Interested students are encouraged to speak with faculty members about possible projects. Note: Students in the Honors Program are required to enroll. Consent of chair required.


995. Private Reading
1-3 hours, 1-3NS

Private readings can be undertaken on a wide range of chemistry topics. Advanced courses not offered in the current academic year may be taken as a private reading and count towards the advanced course requirement of a chemistry major. Please consult with the chair about taking advanced courses as a private reading. Private Readings sponsored by Mr. Ackermann, Mr. Elrod, Mr. Fuchsman, Mr. Nee, Ms. Oertel, Mr. Thompson, and Ms. Whelan. Consent of instructor required.

    
   
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