Modern chemistry is an interdisciplinary subject with roots in
physics and mathematics and with applications in biology, geology,
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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.
050. Basic Chemistry
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.
145. Chemistry and Crime
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.
151. Chemistry and the Environment
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.
FYSP 114. Origins and Treatment of Cancer
For description, please see "First-Year Seminar
this catalog. Enrollment Limit: 14.
101. Structure and Reactivity
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
Equilibrium, thermodynamics, reaction rates and
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
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.
205. Principles of Organic Chemistry
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
Mr. Nee. Enrollment Limit: 60 (Lecture); 30 (Lab).
Staff. Enrollment Limit: 40 (Lecture); 24 (Lab).
211. Analytical Chemistry
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);
213. Inorganic Chemistry
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).
339. Quantum Chemistry and Kinetics
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.
254. Bioorganic Chemistry
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
C– or better in CHEM 205. Note: Students must register for both lecture
and laboratory. Enrollment Limit: 60 (Lecture); 30 (Lab).
325. Organic Mechanism and Synthesis
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.
326. Organic Mechanism and Synthesis Laboratory
The laboratory is intended to complement the Organic
Mechanism and Synthesis lecture course. Laboratory involves experiments
principles presented in the lecture course.
Pre- or Co-requisite: CHEM 325
of instructor. Note: CR/NE or P/NP grading. Enrollment Limit: 12.
327. Synthesis Laboratory
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
infrared, and ultraviolet) for their characterization. The lectures develop
the theory and unified application of spectroscopic analysis to solve structural
Prerequisites: C– or better in CHEM 205 and CHEM 213. Enrollment Limit: 8.
405. Topics in Organic Chemistry
This course will examine several areas of current
research activity in organic chemistry. The course readings will
be taken from the recent
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.
Advanced Courses, Category II
341. Trace Analysis
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.
343. Advanced Inorganic Chemistry
Next offered 2006-2007.
349. Chemical and Statistical Thermodynamics
Thermodynamics, introduction to statistical thermodynamics,
and kinetic theory. Application of mathematical methods and physical
Prerequisites: C– or better in CHEM 102 or CHEM 103, in PHYS
111 or PHYS 104 and in MATH 134.
361. Topics in Analytical Chemistry
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.
409. Topics in Physical Chemistry
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.
Other Advanced Courses
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.
396. Chemical Information
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
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
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
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.