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Willamette University

900 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301

503-370-6300 voice

Chemistry View this department's website

Willamette University is among the institutions approved by the American Chemical Society for undergraduate education in Chemistry. The primary goals of the Chemistry program are to help students understand the place of chemistry in human affairs and to have students become sufficiently knowledgeable about chemistry in order to be effective problem-solvers after graduation.

For both majors and non-majors, the study of chemistry provides practice in logical thinking; an awareness of the environmental impact of chemistry; preparation to enter and succeed in graduate and professional programs including medical, dental, veterinary, and nursing schools; the chemistry background needed for careers in secondary schoolteaching and other professions and for employment in business or industry; an awareness of how chemistry relates to other areas of knowledge; and practice in applying scientific methodology to the solution of practical problems.

Specific expectations for Chemistry majors include a competent level of understanding of the four principal areas of Analytical, Inorganic, Organic, and Physical Chemistry. All majors will acquire a background in mathematics and physics; biochemistry track students will have, in addition, experience in biology and Biochemistry. Students will also gain experience in conducting individual laboratory research projects and may study Quantum Chemistry or other advanced topics. The chemistry major provides a level of training in chemistry meeting recognized national standards.

Numerous post-graduate and professional opportunities exist for individuals who major in chemistry. Possibilities include research and development or management careers in industry, government or business; teaching at the secondary school, college, or university level; medically-oriented professions such as medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, nursing, clinical chemistry, pharmacology, public health, and forensic chemistry. Even more applications of chemistry occur in such fields as oceanography, space exploration, environment quality, industrial toxicology, and patent law. In many such cases advanced study beyond the baccalaureate degree is advisable or required.

The Chemistry Department is housed in the Olin Science Center. Modern laboratories for courses and for individual research projects are provided with up-to-date instruments and equipment. Care has been given to laboratory safety, particularly in the organic chemistry laboratory, where fume hoods for each student have been installed. A wide selection of chemistry periodicals and monographs is available to students in the University Library. Students have access to SciFinder Scholar, a chemical literature research tool, through the University Library as well.

Requirements for the Chemistry Major

The usual first course in the chemistry program is Introductory Chemistry I, although well-qualified students may begin at a higher level. Well-qualified students should consult with the department before registration.

Chemistry Track

10 credits in Chemistry, 2 in Mathematics, 2 in Physics

  • CHEM 115 (NW) Introductory Chemistry I (1)
  • CHEM 116 (QA) Introductory Chemistry II (1)
  • CHEM 225 Organic Chemistry I (1)
  • CHEM 226 Organic Chemistry II (1) or
  • CHEM 228 Organic Chemistry II: Bioorganic Emphasis (1)
  • CHEM 321 Physical Chemistry I (1)
  • CHEM 322 Physical Chemistry II (1)
  • CHEM 342 Instrumental and Experimental Chemistry I (1)
  • CHEM 343 Instrumental and Experimental Chemistry II (1)
  • CHEM 362 Inorganic Chemistry (1)
  • CHEM 495 (W) Senior Research Projects I (.5)
  • CHEM 496 (W) Senior Research Projects II (.5)
  • MATH 141 (QA*) Calculus I (1)
  • MATH 142 (QA*) Calculus II (1)
  • PHYS 221 (NW; QA) Introductory Physics I (1)
  • PHYS 222 (NW; QA) Introductory Physics II (1)

Biochemistry Track

9 credits in Chemistry, 2 in Mathematics, 2 in Biology, 1 in Physics

  • CHEM 115 (NW) Introductory Chemistry I (1)
  • CHEM 116 (QA) Introductory Chemistry II (1)
  • CHEM 225 Organic Chemistry I (1)
  • CHEM 226 Organic Chemistry II (1) or
  • CHEM 228 Organic Chemistry II: Bioorganic Emphasis (1)
  • CHEM 321 Physical Chemistry I (1)
  • CHEM 342 Instrumental and Experimental Chemistry I (.5)
  • CHEM 343 Instrumental and Experimental Chemistry II (.5)
  • CHEM 351 Biochemistry (1)
  • CHEM 362 Inorganic Chemistry (1)
  • CHEM 495 (W) Senior Research Projects I (.5)
  • CHEM 496 (W) Senior Research Projects II (.5)
  • BIOL 130 Cell Biology and Genetics (1)
  • BIOL 333 Gene Structure and Function (1) or
  • BIOL 358 (W) Developmental Biology (1) or
  • BIOL 360 Molecular Cell Biology (1) or
  • CHEM 431 Advanced Topics in Biochemistry (1)
  • MATH 141 (QA*) Calculus I (1)
  • MATH 142 (QA*) Calculus II (1)
  • PHYS 221 Introductory Physics I (1)

Requirements for the Chemistry Minor (5 Credits)

  • CHEM 115 (NW) Introductory Chemistry I (1)
  • CHEM 116 (QA) Introductory Chemistry II (1)
  • CHEM 225 Organic Chemistry I (1)
  • CHEM 226 Organic Chemistry II (1) or
  • CHEM 228 Organic Chemistry II: Bioorganic Emphasis (1)
  • Any one-credit Chemistry course numbered above 300

Faculty

  • J. Charles Williamson, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Chair
  • Ronald Backus, Visiting Instructor of Chemistry
  • Andrew P. Duncan, Assistant Professor of Chemistry
  • David E. Goodney, Professor of Chemistry
  • Karen McFarlane Holman, Associate Professor of Chemistry
  • James A. Hoobler, Visiting Professor of Chemistry
  • Sarah R. Kirk, Assistant Professor of Chemistry
  • Dennis R. Phillips, Visiting Professor of Chemistry
  • Harry E. Rice, Instructor of Chemistry
  • Todd P. Silverstein, Professor of Chemistry

Course Listings

CHEM 110 (NW) Chemical Concepts and Applications (1)

Chemical Concepts is a course designed for nonscience majors. The course exposes students to the ways scientists think, to the power and the limitations of the scientific methods, and to the implications of our findings in political, social, economic, international, and ethical contexts. Relevant issues are used to introduce the chemistry rather than the other way around. Chemical concepts and facts are not introduced in a linear fashion but on a "need-to-know" basis to help students analyze complex issues from a chemical perspective. Topics covered may include studies of the ozone layer, global warming, nuclear energy, acid rain, and traditional and alternative energy sources. Laboratory required.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding the Natural World

  • Offering: Fall and/or Spring
  • Instructor: Staff

CHEM 115 (NW) Introductory Chemistry I (1)

A comprehensive, one-semester introduction to the field of chemistry, stressing concepts and a semiquantitative understanding rather than detailed theory. Discussions include: chemical reactions, equations, and stoichiometry; atomic and molecular structure, chemical bonding, and molecular polarity; reactions in solutions, especially acid/base, redox, and solubility; chemical energy including heat and enthalpy, entropy, free energy, and chemical equilibrium; electrochemical cells; chemical reaction rates; the gas laws, liquids, intermolecular forces, and phase changes. Laboratory required.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding the Natural World

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Staff

CHEM 116 (QA) Introductory Chemistry II (1)

An in-depth look at the chemical phenomena that are at work in the world around us. Case studies (e.g., lasers, fossil fuels, air pollution, blood chemistry) are used to explore in further detail concepts first introduced in CHEM 115. Discussions include: light, energy, and energy levels; electron configuration and the periodic table; bonding and bond energies; kinetics and reaction mechanisms; solubility and colligative properties; acid/base equilibria; and redox reactions as biological energy sources. These chemical principles will be discussed in relation to such modern phenomena as smog, acid rain, the greenhouse effect, the ozone hole, and other aspects of everyday life. Laboratory required.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Quantitative and Analytical Reasoning

Prerequisite: CHEM 115 or equivalent

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Staff

CHEM 225 Organic Chemistry I (1)

Integration of aliphatic, alicyclic, and aromatic chemistry by means of a mechanistic approach. Nomenclature, stereochemistry, structure and reactivity, elementary theoretical organic chemistry, and substitution, elimination, addition, condensation, and rearrangement reactions. Laboratory: Isolation and purification techniques, synthesis, and qualitative organic analysis. Laboratory required.

Prerequisite: CHEM 116

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Duncan, Kirk, Hoobler

CHEM 226 Organic Chemistry II (1)

Integration of aliphatic, alicyclic, and aromatic chemistry by means of a mechanistic approach. Nomenclature, stereochemistry, structure and reactivity, elementary theoretical organic chemistry, and substitution, elimination, addition, condensation, and rearrangement reactions. Laboratory: Isolation and purification techniques, synthesis, and qualitative organic analysis. Either CHEM 226 or CHEM 228 may be taken for credit, but not both. Laboratory required.

Prerequisite: CHEM 225

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Duncan

CHEM 228 Organic Chemistry II: Bioorganic Emphasis (1)

An introduction to the study of organic reactions, syntheses, mechanisms, nomenclature, and structure as it relates to function and reactivity with an emphasis on bioorganic molecules. Organic chemistry as applied to biological and biochemical processes. Reactions to be examined include acid/base, substitution, elimination, oxidation and reduction, as well as addition and rearrangements. Both synthetic and retrosynthetic techniques will be utilized in the design of molecules with biological applications. Laboratory required. Either CHEM 226 or CHEM 228 may be taken for credit, but not both.

Prerequisite: CHEM 225

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Kirk

CHEM 230 Environmental Chemistry (1)

Basic chemical concepts are applied to environmental issues, including the quality of air, quality of water, use of natural resources, availability of energy in various forms, feasibility of alternate energy sources, and toxic chemicals. Some chemical, hydrological, and meteorological cycles are covered. Changes in our perception of the environment because of advances in chemistry are considered. Environmental issues of topical interest including environmental legislation and societal impact are discussed. Laboratory required.

Prerequisite: CHEM 115

  • Offering: Alternate years in spring
  • Instructor: Goodney

CHEM 321 Physical Chemistry I (1)

This course presents a theoretical basis for the equilibrium behavior of bulk chemical systems. Topics include: mathematical tools; equations of state; Laws of Thermodynamics; derivation and application of thermodynamic functions; physical behavior of single- and multi-component systems; colligative properties; phase diagrams; chemical reactions and equilibrium; and thermodynamics of electrolyte solutions. Laboratory required.

Prerequisite: CHEM 116, MATH 142

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Williamson

CHEM 322 Physical Chemistry II (1)

Quantum mechanics, a theoretical description of the microscopic world, is developed and connected to the equilibrium behavior of macroscopic systems through statistical mechanics. Topics include: mathematical tools; the failure of classical mechanics; the postulates of quantum mechanics; prototype microscopic systems; hydrogen-like atoms; multi-electron atoms; molecular orbitals; rotational, vibrational, and electronic spectroscopy; the Boltzmann distribution; introductory statistical mechanics; chemical equilibrium; and chemical kinetics.

Prerequisite: CHEM 321, PHYS 221

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Williamson

CHEM 342 Instrumental and Experimental Chemistry I (.5 or 1)

Lecture and laboratory stressing instrumental methods for qualitative and quantitative chemical analysis. Topics include experimental design, analytical figures of merit, molecular spectroscopy (UV-Visible, IR, NMR, fluorescence), and atomic spectroscopy. Two laboratories per week required for 1 credit.

Prerequisite: CHEM 321

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Goodney, Phillips

CHEM 343 Instrumental and Experimental Chemistry II (.5 or 1)

Lecture and laboratory stressing instrumental methods for qualitative and quantitative chemical analysis. Topics include chromatography (GC, HPLC, SFC), direct potentiometry, voltammetric techniques, radiochemical analysis, special topics. Two laboratories per week required for 1 credit.

Prerequisite: CHEM 342

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Goodney, Phillips

CHEM 351 Biochemistry (1)

A comprehensive introduction to biochemistry, stressing a chemical understanding of life processes and how molecules interact in cells and organisms. We will discuss important biomolecules (e.g., proteins, lipids, carbohydrates) and their dynamic interactions: how enzymes speed up reactions, how muscles contract, how cells use and transduce energy, how cells receive and transmit signals, and how flaws in these processes can lead to disease. We will examine closely the underlying chemistry (organic mechanisms, thermodynamics) involved in these molecular interactions. Laboratory required.

Prerequisite: CHEM 226 or CHEM 228; BIOL 130 recommended

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Silverstein

CHEM 362 Inorganic Chemistry (1)

Atomic structures; chemical bonding; periodicity and the chemistry of the elements; coordination chemistry; theory, structures, and reactions, kinetics and mechanisms, organometallic chemistry; acid-base concepts; special types of inorganic structures, inorganic nomenclature.

Prerequisite: CHEM 321

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Holman

CHEM 430 Advanced Topics in Chemistry (.5 or 1)

An in-depth study of topics selected for their interest and relevance to modern Chemistry. Topics may be chosen from the areas of analytical, physical, inorganic, organic, biological, polymer chemistry, computational chemistry, or history and philosophy of chemistry. Taught in a seminar format.

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Staff

CHEM 431 Advanced Topics in Biochemistry (1)

An in-depth study of selected topics in modern biochemistry. Topics will be chosen from the areas of bioinorganic, bioorganic, biophysical, or bioenergetic chemistry, and may include heavy metal toxicity, bioinorganic electron transfer, photosynthetic electron transfer, nucleic acid or carbohydrate chemistry, drug design, membrane transport, neurochemistry, or cell signaling. Laboratory required.

Prerequisite: CHEM 342, CHEM 351 and consent of instructor

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Holman, Kirk, Silverstein

CHEM 480 Applied Group Theory (.5)

Symmetry in quantum chemistry. Definitions and theorems of group theory, chemically important point groups, irreducible representations, molecular vibrations, molecular orbital theory, and ligand field theory.

Prerequisite: MATH 141 and consent of instructor

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

CHEM 481 Quantum Chemistry (1)

Quantum mechanics applied to chemical systems including theories of valence, wave mechanics, atomic orbitals, molecular orbitals, diatomic molecules, polyatomic molecules, carbon compounds, and transition metal compounds.

Prerequisite: MATH 141 and/or MATH 142

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Staff

CHEM 482 Statistical Mechanics (1)

Canonical ensemble, probabilities, partition function and thermodynamic properties, entropy and information theory, Boltzmann, Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein statistics, metals, perfect crystals, and dense fluids.

Prerequisite: MATH 141 and consent of Instructor

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Staff

CHEM 483 Thermodynamics (1)

Use of exact differentials, line integrals, and partial derivatives. Equations of state, internal energy, the first law, Joule and Joule-Kelvin experiments and enthalpy. The second law according to Kelvin and Caratheodory, entropy, Helmholtz function, Gibbs function, equilibrium conditions, the third law, the phase equation, the phase rule.

Prerequisite: MATH 141 and consent of Instructor

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Staff

CHEM 491-492 Independent Projects I and II (.5)

Individual laboratory and library research projects selected in consultation with chemistry faculty. Written reports and seminar presentations are required. Occasional field trips to nearby research facilities may be made.

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Staff

CHEM 495 (W) Senior Research Projects I (.5)

Introduction to chemical research for senior chemistry majors. Weekly meetings include seminars, discussions of research methods, experimental design, and ethical issues in chemistry. Each student prepares an independent research proposal and an oral presentation.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: Senior standing

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Staff

CHEM 496 (W) Senior Research Projects II (.5)

Each student carries out an independent research project under the supervision of a research advisor. Weekly meetings include seminars, discussions of research methods, guidance in effective scientific communication, and current topics in chemistry. The course culminates with a written senior thesis and a formal oral presentation. Laboratory Required.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: CHEM 495

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Staff