Chemistry and Biochemistry

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry enjoys a solid reputation for providing high quality education, conducting outstanding research with faculty who strive to be the best teachers mentors for our students.

Chemistry is the study of matter and energy and the changes they undergo. It plays a key role in understanding the natural universe and in the scientific and technological revolution that has shaped modern society. Biochemistry is the study of the chemical nature and processes that occur in biological systems.

The programs offered in chemistry and biochemistry provide a strong foundation in the principles and practices of modern chemistry and biochemistry within the framework of a liberal arts education. The majors are designed to give students both the theoretical bases of the disciplines and extensive hands-on experience testing theories in the laboratory.

We also offer courses that fulfill the science and technology portion of the core curriculum requirements. These courses are designed to acquaint students majoring outside the natural sciences with the basic principles and methods of modern science and with the history and development of scientific thought.

The American Chemical Society (ACS), a national organization that develops and administers guidelines defining high quality undergraduate chemistry and biochemistry programs, has approved USD’s curriculum. This allows majors the option of enhancing their career choices by earning an ACS-certified degree.

Another professional scientific society, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) has also recognized our biochemistry program accrediting the department and the biochemistry major.  Students who wish can have their degree certified by the ASBMB with a national test.

The department is distinguished by its dedication to undergraduate research and teaching. All full-time faculty members have active research programs in which undergraduates fully participate. These activities lead, in many cases, to new discoveries and publications in major scientific journals with students as co-authors.

Our students are the main users of the department’s scientific instrument holdings, which include over $2 million in state-of-the-art equipment. We regularly upgrade and add new instruments to keep abreast with new technologies, thus preparing our students for their future professional needs. Current instrumentation used in the department includes an atomic absorption facility, an NMR facility including two spectrometers (400 MHz and 500 MHz), a molecular modeling facility with dedicated workstations and software for computational chemistry, a thermogravimetric suite including a differential scanning calorimeter and gravimetric analyzer, and a laser facility. In addition, we have a single crystal x-ray diffraction system, and a spacious spectrometer facility housing UV-Vis, IR, fluorescence, circular dichroism, and gas chromatograph mass spectrometers.

A major in chemistry or biochemistry prepares a student for a variety of different career possibilities. Professional chemists and biochemists may select careers in areas such as basic or applied research, production and marketing, consulting, testing and analysis, administration, management, business enterprise, and teaching. They are employed in the chemical, pharmaceutical, petroleum, energy, engineering, and “biotech” industries; by government laboratories and agencies working on health, energy, and the environment; in consulting firms; and by educational institutions at all levels. Undergraduate training in chemistry and biochemistry provides a solid foundation for many other areas such as medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, oceanography, geochemistry, chemical engineering, forensics, environmental studies, molecular biology, and law.

Our students continue their education at prestigious graduate and medical programs throughout the country. Recent graduates have entered doctoral programs at universities such as University of California, Los Angeles, Cal Tech, MIT, Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins, Yale and Scripps Research Institute. Other recent graduates have entered medical or pharmacy programs at institutions such as Creighton University, Thomas Jefferson University and many in the University of California system. Many of our graduates enter the workforce starting interesting and exciting careers in chemistry and biochemistry. Some of the recent companies include organizations like Pfizer, Proctor and Gamble, Pharmatek and Genomics Foundation of Novartis, to name just a few.

Two programs of study are available, differing in their focus: The chemistry major is designed to qualify students for admission to graduate school in chemistry; positions as chemists; admission to medical, dental, and pharmacy schools; or secondary teaching. The biochemistry major is designed to prepare students for graduate work in biochemistry, molecular biology, biomedical programs, pharmacology, pharmaceutical and clinical chemistry; positions as biochemists; admission to medical, dental, and pharmacy schools; or secondary teaching

Major Field Test Graduation Requirement

As a part of the department’s assessment program, each graduating senior is required to take the major field test in chemistry (CHEM 489). A student who fails to take the major field test may be restricted from graduating.

Other Programs

Several professional options are open to the chemistry major in addition to the pursuit of a career in chemistry or biochemistry.

Pre-Medicine/Pre-Dentistry/Pre-Pharmacy

The liberal arts curriculum provides an excellent background for graduate education in the health professions. Students planning to apply for admission to medical, dental or pharmacy schools may elect to major in any of the academic disciplines within the college, but in most cases it is advantageous to major in one of the sciences. Students may select either the chemistry or biochemistry major as preparation. The specific science courses recommended for undergraduates differ for different professional schools but should include BIOL 190, BIOL 221, BIOL 221L, and BIOL 225, BIOL 225L.  Biochem Majors can substitute BIOL/CHEM 330 for BIOL 221/BIOL 221L.  The current MCAT requires additional courses recommended by the Director of Pre-Health Advising.

Courses

CHEM 101 | CHEMISTRY AND SOCIETY

Units: 3

A course designed for the non-science major that focuses on the major ideas of modern chemistry and the role that chemistry plays in a technological society. The evolution of our understanding of atomic and molecular structure and chemical reactivity will be examined as examples of the scientific method and the very human nature of the scientific endeavor. The role of modern chemistry in both the creation and the solution of societal problems will also receive considerable attention. The problems examined, which may vary in different sections, include: the energy crisis, air and water pollution, global warming, nutrition and food additives, household chemicals, pesticides and agrochemicals, and nuclear power. Two lectures weekly. Every semester.

CHEM 102 | SCIENCE OF FOOD & COOKING

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Course Description: This course is designed for the non-science major with a focus on food, cooking and baking while introducing foundational concepts in chemistry and biochemistry. Using a variety of approaches including hands-on activities, students will learn the chemical and biochemical principles of food and cooking. Students will investigate the molecular structure and changes that take place in food and drink while cooking and baking. Topics may include: making cheese and ice cream, spices and hot sauces, caramelization and food browning reactions, molecular gastronomy, taste and smell, cakes and cookies and chocolate. Students will participate in inquiry-based laboratories integrated throughout the semester while designing and performing scientific experiments to investigate the nature of food and cooking. Two hours of lecture per week and one four hour lab every other week. No prerequisites.

CHEM 103 | DNA SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Units: 3

A course designed for the non-science major that covers basic physical science concepts and how they apply to the discovery and study of DNA as the genetic material, the simplicity of the three-dimensional structure of DNA and the many implications to be drawn from this structure. It explores the concepts involved in recombinant DNA technology and its applications to the pharmaceutical industry, agriculture, forensics, gene therapy and AIDS research. Two lectures weekly. Every semester.

CHEM 105 | PHYSICAL SCIENCES FOR K-8 TEACHERS

Units: 3

A laboratory/lecture/discussion class designed to lead students toward an understanding of selected topics in chemistry and physics. The course topics are selected to satisfy the physical science specifications of the science content standards for California Public Schools (K-12). Enrollment is limited to liberal studies majors. Two two-hour laboratory sessions per week. Fall semester. This course is cross-listed with PHYS 105. Spring Semester.

CHEM 111 | CHEMISTRY AND SOCIETY

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

A course designed for the non-science major that focuses on the major ideas of modern chemistry and the role that chemistry plays in a technological society. The evolution of our understanding of atomic and molecular structure and chemical reactivity will be examined as examples of the scientific method and the very human nature of the scientific endeavor. The role of modern chemistry in both the creation and the solution of societal problems will also receive considerable attention. The problems examined, which may vary in different sections, include: the energy crisis, air and water pollution, global warming, nutrition and food additives, household chemicals, pesticides and agrochemicals, and nuclear power. This course includes a laboratory that will satisfy the Core requirement for Science and Technology Inquiry. Two hours of lecture per week and one four hour lab every other week.

CHEM 151 | GENERAL CHEMISTRY I

Units: 3

Prerequisites: ( Passing the appropriate departmental placement test within the previous year or Passing the appropriate departmental placement test within the previous year or MATH 115 (Can be taken Concurrently) or MATH 130 (Can be taken Concurrently) or MATH 150 (Can be taken Concurrently)) and CHEM 151L (Can be taken Concurrently)

Part 1 of a two semester lecture course which introduces the fundamental principles of modern chemistry. These principles, which include atomic and molecular structure, periodicity, reactivity, stoichiometry, equilibrium, kinetics, thermodynamics, bonding, acid-base chemistry, redox chemistry, and states of matter, will be used in and expanded upon in more advanced courses. Three lectures weekly.

CHEM 151L | GENERAL CHEMISTRY I LABORATORY

Units: 1 Repeatability: No

Corequisites: CHEM 151

Part 1 of a two-semester laboratory course which introduces the concepts and techniques of experimental chemistry. CHEM 151L has one laboratory period that meets biweekly.

CHEM 152 | GENERAL CHEMISTRY II

Units: 3

Prerequisites: ( Passing the appropriate departmental placement test within the previous year or Passing the appropriate departmental placement test within the previous year or MATH 115 or MATH 130 or MATH 150) and CHEM 152L (Can be taken Concurrently) and CHEM 151 and CHEM 151L

Part 2 of a two semester lecture course which introduces the fundamental principles of modern chemistry. These principles, which include atomic and molecular structure, periodicity, reactivity, stoichiometry, equilibrium, kinetics, thermodynamics, bonding, acid-base chemistry, redox chemistry, and states of matter, will be used in and expanded upon in more advanced courses. Three lectures weekly.

CHEM 152H | HONORS GENERAL CHEMISTRY

Units: 3

Prerequisites: CHEM 151 and CHEM 151L

An honors course which parallels CHEM 152. The topics are covered in greater depth than in CHEM 152, and additional applications of chemistry are included. Three lectures weekly. Spring semester.

CHEM 152L | GENERAL CHEMISTRY II LABORATORY

Units: 1

Prerequisites: CHEM 151 and CHEM 151L

Part 2 of a two-semester laboratory course which introduces the concepts and techniques of experimental chemistry. One laboratory period weekly.

CHEM 220 | ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY

Units: 3

Prerequisites: CHEM 152 and CHEM 152L

An introduction to the principles and practices of analytical chemistry with an emphasis on quantitative methods. Classical methods such as titrimetric and volumetric analyses as well as basic instrumental methods involving spectroscopy, electrochemistry, and chromatography will be performed. Some experiments will be of the project type. One laboratory and one lecture weekly.

CHEM 296 | INTRODUCTION TO UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH

Units: 1-2

Collaborative student-faculty research in the research laboratory of a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The course is taught on a pass/fail basis only.

CHEM 301 | ORGANIC CHEMISTRY I

Units: 3

Prerequisites: CHEM 152 and CHEM 152L and CHEM 301L (Can be taken Concurrently)

Part 1 of a two semester introduction to basic organic chemistry. The relationship of structure and bonding in organic compounds to reactivity will be emphasized. Reactions will be discussed from mechanistic and synthetic perspectives. Three lectures weekly. Fall Semester.

CHEM 301L | ORGANIC CHEMISTRY I LABORATORY

Units: 1

Prerequisites: CHEM 152L and CHEM 301 (Can be taken Concurrently)

This lab is the first semester of a two-semester sequence. It introduces common organic lab techniques (including chromatography, extraction, recrystallization, distillation) used for separating and analyzing organic compounds. One laboratory period weekly. Fall semester.

CHEM 302 | ORGANIC CHEMISTRY II

Units: 3

Prerequisites: CHEM 301 and CHEM 301L and CHEM 302L (Can be taken Concurrently)

Part 2 of a two semester introduction to basic organic chemistry. The relationship of structure and bonding in organic compounds to reactivity will be emphasized. Reactions will be discussed from mechanistic and synthetic perspectives. Three lectures weekly. Spring semester.

CHEM 302L | ORGANIC CHEMISTRY II LABORATORY

Units: 1

Prerequisites: CHEM 301 and CHEM 301L

This lab is the second semester of a two-semester sequence. Common organic lab techniques and spectroscopy are used to carry out and analyze multi-step organic syntheses One laboratory period weekly. Spring semester.

CHEM 311 | PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY I

Units: 3

Prerequisites: CHEM 152 (Can be taken Concurrently) and MATH 151 (Can be taken Concurrently) and PHYS 270 (Can be taken Concurrently) and PHYS 271 (Can be taken Concurrently)

This course covers modern physical chemistry, including atomic and molecular structure, and spectroscopy. Three lectures weekly. Fall semester.

CHEM 312 | PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY II

Units: 3

Prerequisites: MATH 151 and CHEM 152 and PHYS 270 and PHYS 271 (Can be taken Concurrently)

This course focuses on the classical principles of thermodynamics, kinetics, and statistical mechanics. Three lectures weekly. Spring semester.

CHEM 330 | TECHNIQUES IN MOLECULAR BIOLOGY

Units: 3

Prerequisites: BIOL 190 and BIOL 225 and BIOL 225L

An introduction to recombinant DNA techniques including bacterial culture, transformation, nucleic acid purification, restriction analysis, DNA cloning, polymerase chain reaction, etc. Computer-based sequence analyses include database accession, BLAST, alignments, restriction analysis, gene-finding, and genomics. A cloning project generating new molecular reagents will be undertaken. 80 min of lecture and one 4-hour laboratory weekly. Completion of CHEM 301/301L is recommended.

CHEM 331 | BIOCHEMISTRY

Units: 3

Prerequisites: CHEM 302 and CHEM 302L

The structure, function, and metabolism of biomolecules. Structure and function of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and important accessory molecules (cofactors and metal ions) are covered, as well as enzyme kinetics and mechanism, thermodynamics, metabolism, and the regulation of metabolism. Three lectures weekly.

CHEM 332 | BIOCHEMISTRY II

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: CHEM 331

This course advances the fundamental concepts of macromolecules, structure/function paradigms, enzyme mechanism & activity and metabolism gained in CHEM 331. We will study metabolic homeostasis, integrating anabolic/catabolic pathways and energy flux with nutrition/nutrient intake of essential and non-essential molecules. Regulatory control through allosteric, transcriptional/translational, and post-translational mechanisms will be examined as part of maintaining metabolic homeostasis. Where relevant, disease and pathology will be used to highlight these concepts. We will study signal transduction to address the flow of information within a system. As a capstone to our indepth study of biochemistry, we will examine cross-disciplinary applications of core biochemical concepts (structure/function, homeostasis, energy flow and information flow) in the context of systems biology, chemical biology and synthetic biology.

CHEM 335 | BIOCHEMISTRY LABORATORY

Units: 3

Prerequisites: CHEM 220 and CHEM 331 (Can be taken Concurrently)

An advanced laboratory course that focuses on techniques for the preparation and quantitative analysis of proteins and other biomolecules. Experiments will include preparation of buffers, production and purification of proteins, and analysis of protein structure and function. Two laboratory periods weekly.

CHEM 335W | BIOCHEMISTRY LABORATORY

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: CHEM 220 and CHEM 331 (Can be taken Concurrently)

An advanced laboratory course that focuses on techniques for the preparation and quantitative analysis of proteins and other biomolecules. Experiments will include preparation of buffers, production and purification of proteins, and analysis of protein structure and function. Two laboratory periods weekly.

CHEM 355 | ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY

Units: 3

Prerequisites: CHEM 152 and CHEM 152L

A survey of the natural environment from a chemist’s point of view and the evaluation of chemicals from an environmental point of view. This course is concerned with the chemistry of air, water, soil and the biosphere in both pristine and polluted states. Pollution prevention and mitigation schemes are considered. Lab experiments include local fieldwork. Two 3-hour laboratory periods weekly.

CHEM 396 | METHODS OF CHEMICAL RESEARCH

Units: 1.5

Prerequisites: (CHEM 152 (Can be taken Concurrently) and CHEM 152L)

CHEM 396W | RESEARCH METHODS

Units: 3

Prerequisites: CHEM 220

Introduction to the principles, methods, and communication of chemical and biochemical research. Lab work includes general and advanced techniques with considerable hands-on use of modern instruments, proper record-keeping, data management, and consideration of laboratory safety. Techniques for searching the chemical literature, peer review and research ethics are included. This course fulfills the upper division writing requirement. Students will write and edit a report in a format suitable for journal publication. May be taken either semester of junior year or fall semester of senior year. One lecture and eight hours of laboratory research weekly. Prereq: CHEM 220 and approval by department chair.

CHEM 422 | PHYSICAL METHODS

Units: 3

Prerequisites: CHEM 302 and CHEM 302L and CHEM 220 and CHEM 311 (Can be taken Concurrently)

An advanced laboratory course which probes concepts in physical chemistry using instrumental techniques including spectroscopy, chromatography and microscopy. Modern topics in physical chemistry, new technology in instrumentation, and computational data analysis will be integral parts of the laboratory in addition to some classical experiments and methods.

CHEM 424 | ADVANCED SYNTHESIS LABORATORY

Units: 3

An advaned laboratory course which integrates theory and experimental techniques from organic and inorganic chemistry. The course will focus on advanced topics of organic and inorganic chemistry (such as bioinorganic chemistry and organic materials) that are not included in CHEM 301, 301L, 302, 302L and 440. Emphasis will be placed on applications to the sub-fields of organic and inorganic chemistry. Two lectures and two laboratory periods weekly. Spring semester.

CHEM 427 | BIOPHYSICAL CHEMISTRY

Units: 3

Prerequisites: CHEM 331 and CHEM 335

This is an advanced lecture and laboratory course applying fundamental theories of physical chemistry in the context of thermodynamic, kinetic and quantum chemistry to understand the behavior of biological molecules and systems. Topics and experiments include spectroscopy, kinetics, thermodynamic of macromolecules, structure and function of protein, lipids, RNA and DNA as well as multimeric complex systems.

CHEM 440 | INORGANIC CHEMISTRY

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: CHEM 302 and CHEM 311 (Can be taken Concurrently)

The principles of inorganic chemistry, such as atomic and molecular structure, bonding, acid-base theory, and crystal field theory, are examined. Utilizing these principles, the chemistry of the elements of the periodic table is discussed, including the kinetics and mechanisms of reactions. The various fields within inorganic chemistry, including solid-state, coordination and organometallic chemistry are introduced. Three lectures weekly. Fall semester.

CHEM 489 | MAJOR FIELD TEST IN CHEMISTRY

Units: 0

As a part of the department’s assessment program, each graduating senior is required to take the major field test in chemistry. A student who fails to take the major field test may be restricted from graduating. Every year.

CHEM 494 | SPECIAL TOPICS IN CHEMISTRY/BIOCHEMISTRY

Units: 3-4 Repeatability: Yes (Repeatable if topic differs)

Rotating in-depth courses focused on various chemical and biochemical topics based primarily on the expertise of faculty. Repeatability: Yes (Can be repeated for credit when topic changes.) Prereq: Varied.

CHEM 496 | UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH

Units: 0.5-3 Repeatability: Yes (Can be repeated for Credit)

Collaborative student-faculty research in the research laboratory of a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The course is taught on a pass/fail basis only. Prereq: Approval by department chair.

CHEM 496H | HONORS UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH (1-3)

Units: 1-3

Collaborative student-faculty research in the research laboratory of a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The course is taught on a pass/fail basis only. Prereq: Approval by department chair, membership in the Honors Program.

CHEM 498 | RESEARCH INTERNSHIP

Units: 1-2

Prerequisites: CHEM 151 and CHEM 151L

This course offers experience in the practical and experimental application of chemical or biochemical principles. Students will be involved in research projects conducted by agencies and institutions outside the University, such as chemical/biochemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Enrollment is arranged on an individual basis according to a student’s interest and background, and is dependent on positions available and faculty approval. A maximum of 2 upper-division units can be earned toward fulfillment of the requirements of the major.

Chair

Tammy J. Dwyer, PhD

Associate Chair

Joseph J. Provost, PhD

Faculty

Anthony J. Bell, PhD

Jessica K. Bell, PhD

Lauren B. Benz, PhD

James P. Bolender, PhD

Timothy B. Clark, PhD

Christopher J. A. Daley, PhD

Eleanor I. Gillette, PhD

David O. De Haan, PhD

Thomas R. Herrinton, PhD

Peter M. Iovine, PhD

Jeremy S. Kua, PhD

Mitchell R. Malachowski, PhD

Joan G. Schellinger, PhD