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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 school teaching 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 341 Instrumental Analysis (1)
  • CHEM 344 Experimental Chemistry I (.5)
  • CHEM 345 Experimental Chemistry II (.5)
  • CHEM 363 Inorganic Chemistry: Transition Metals (.5)
  • CHEM 364 Inorganic Chemistry: Bonding Theories (.5)
  • CHEM 495 (W) Senior Research Projects I (.5)
  • CHEM 496 (W) Senior Research Projects II (.5)
  • MATH 142 (QA*) Calculus II (1)
  • PHYS 221 (NW; QA) Introductory Physics I (1)
  • PHYS 222 (NW; QA) Introductory Physics II (1)

Biochemistry Track

10 credits in Chemistry, 2 in Mathematics, 1 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 341 Instrumental Analysis (1)
  • CHEM 346 Experimental Biochemistry I (.5)
  • CHEM 347 Experimental Biochemistry II (.5)
  • CHEM 351 Biochemistry (1)
  • CHEM 363 Inorganic Chemistry: Transition Metals (.5)
  • CHEM 431 Advanced Topics in Biochemistry (.5)
  • CHEM 495 (W) Senior Research Projects I (.5)
  • CHEM 496 (W) Senior Research Projects II (.5)
  • BIOL 130 Cell Biology and Genetics (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)
  • One credit of Chemistry courses numbered above 300

Indicators of Achievement

Each goal articulated below advances the indoctrination of Willamette undergraduates to the field of chemistry within the context of a liberal arts education. These goals refine critical thinking skills, enhances our students’ awareness of the broader importance of chemistry, and prepares our students to contribute their chemical knowledge to society upon graduation.

The Student Learning Outcomes of the Chemistry Program include:

  1. Foundations in Chemistry
    • Chemistry is conveniently divided into several widely recognized subfields. The chemistry major at Willamette University requires all students to take courses in analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry. In addition, the Biochemistry Track within the major requires biochemistry. A chemistry major should be knowledgeable about the important theories, experimental evidence, and applications of these subfields. Students should be able to apply knowledge from a combination of subfields to solve problems of a chemical nature.
  2. Laboratory Skills
    • Chemistry is a laboratory science. All chemistry majors should acquire the skills necessary to work in an academic, commercial, or industrial laboratory after graduation. These skills include experience with the instruments, glassware, and techniques commonly used in laboratory settings. Majors should be able to work collaboratively on investigations, and they should develop an ability to design experiments from the ground up.
  3. Analytical Skills
    • All chemistry majors should be able to draw appropriate and reasonable conclusions from the data they collect in the laboratory. Majors should understand how to assess the uncertainty, precision, and significance of data using formal statistical techniques; they should be comfortable using commercial software designed for data manipulation and presentation; and they should be familiar with sophisticated chemical computation software.
  4. Communication Skills
    • A successful chemistry graduate should be able to communicate in a variety of formats commonly used by chemists. The department has identified the literature summary, the research poster, the formal laboratory report, the research proposal, and the research report as essential forms of written communication for chemists, and has incorporated these formats into the curriculum. Majors should have experience discussing chemistry before an audience in the context of both formal and informal oral presentations.
  5. Research Tools
    • Research is the method by which chemical knowledge is acquired, and all chemistry majors should be capable of conducting an independent research project. Chemistry majors should know how to search reference sources and literature databases for specific information. They should have experience reading the primary scientific literature. Chemistry majors should be able to develop a hypothesis regarding a significant chemical question, design a method to test that hypothesis, carry out the method they propose, and evaluate the results.

Faculty


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

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 341 Instrumental Analysis (1)

Instrumental methods for qualitative and quantitative chemical analysis. Topics include experimental design, analytical figures of merit, molecular spectroscopy (UV-Visible, IR, NMR, fluorescence), atomic spectroscopy, Chromatography (GC, HPLC, SFC), direct potentiometry, voltammetric techniques, and special topics.

Prerequisite: CHEM 321

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Fisher, Goodney

CHEM 344 (W) Experimental Chemistry I (.5)

Theory and practice of chemical analysis in the laboratory. Students design and carry out qualitative and quantitative analysis on chemical systems using atomic and molecular spectroscopy.

Corequisite: CHEM 342

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Goodney, Holman, Williamson

CHEM 345 (W) Experimental Chemistry II (.5)

Theory and practice of chemical analysis in the laboratory. Students design and carry out qualitative and quantitative analysis on chemical systems using electrochemical, chromatographic, and radiochemical techniques.

Corequisite: CHEM 343

General Education Requirement Fulfillment:  Writing centered

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Goodney, Holman

CHEM 346 (W) Experimental Biochemistry I (.5)

Theory and practice of chemical and biochemical analysis in the laboratory. Students design and carry out qualitative, quantitative, thermodynamic, and kinetic analyses using electrophoretic, electrochemical, radiochemical, and spectroscopic techniques. Biochemical systems explored include tastant and odorant molecules, protein structure and ligand binding, and enzyme catalysis.

Corequisites: CHEM 342 and CHEM 351

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

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

CHEM 347 (W) Experimental Biochemistry II (.5)

Theory and practice of chemical and biochemical analysis in the laboratory. Students design and carry out qualitative, quantitative, thermodynamic, and kinetic analyses using electrophoretic,electrochemical, radiochemical, and spectroscopic techniques. Biochemical systems explored include tRNA structure, dynamics, and ligand binding, as well as biosensor synthesis and analysis.

Corequisites: CHEM 343 and CHEM 346

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Silverstein, Kirk, Fisher

CHEM 351 Biochemistry (1)

A comprehensive introduction to biochemistry, stressing a chemical understanding of life processes and how molecules interact in cells and organisms. Discussion of 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. The underlying chemistry (organic mechanisms, thermodynamics) involved in these molecular interactions will be closely examined.

Prerequisite: CHEM 226 or CHEM 228; BIOL 130 recommended

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Silverstein, Fisher

CHEM 363 Inorganic Chemistry: Transition Metals (.5)

The course begins with a detailed examination of atomic structure and periodic trends, followed by an investigation of the structures, spectra, and magnetic properties of transition metal complexes using a crystal field theory approach. A study of inorganic reaction mechanisms and inorganic acid-base theories will allow a comprehensive approach to understanding metals in biological systems, including metalloprotein catalysis and metal-based pharmaceutical agents.

Corequisite: CHEM 321 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Holman

CHEM 364 Inorganic Chemistry: Bonding Theories (.5)

The course begins with an introduction to symmetry and group theory. The remainder of the course includes an in-depth study of several theories of covalent bonding: valence shell electron pair repulsion theory, valence bond theory, molecular orbital theory, and ligand field theory. Applications will complement theory. For example, photoelectron spectroscopy and X-ray absorption spectroscopy can be used to predict molecular orbital diagrams and uncover details of the metal-ligand bonds. Topics in solid state chemistry will also be covered, including ionic and metallic bonding, band theory and conductivity.

Prerequisite: CHEM 363; Corequisite: CHEM 322 or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Spring
  • 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.

Prerequisite: CHEM 351

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

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