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), 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.
Several professional options are open to the chemistry major in addition to the pursuit of a career in chemistry or biochemistry.
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 240, BIOL 240L, BIOL 242, BIOL 242L. The current MCAT requires additional courses recommended by the Director of Pre-Health Advising.
Joseph J. Provost, PhD
David O. De Haan, PhD
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
Tammy J. Dwyer, PhD
Eleanor I. Gillette, PhD
Jeremy Kua, PhD
Thomas R. Herrinton, PhD
Peter M. Iovine, PhD
Mitchell R. Malachowski, PhD
Joan G. Schellinger, PhD