Chemistry
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Amherst College Chemistry for 2011-12

108 Chemistry and the Environment

In this course, fundamental principles of chemistry will be introduced and used to understand the sources, fates, and activities of chemical compounds in natural and polluted environments. Concepts such as the nature of matter and energy, atomic and molecular structure and bonding, chemical change and reaction stoichiometry, the properties and behavior of gases, and the forces driving chemical reactions will be developed. Examples will be drawn from and shed light on environmental issues such as climate change, air quality, stratospheric ozone depletion, acid rain, water pollution and treatment, energy resources, and environmental toxins. In this way, the underlying physical principles will be linked directly to problems of immediate concern in modern society. The course is designed primarily for non-science majors and Environmental Studies majors. No prior college science or mathematics courses are required. Four class hours per week.

Omitted 2011-12.

2014-15: Not offered

131 Chemical Basis of Biological Processes

(Offered as CHEM 131 and BIOL 131.) What are the natural laws that describe how biological processes actually work?  This course will use examples from biology such as human physiology or cellular signaling to illustrate the interplay between fundamental chemical principles and biological function.  We will explore how bonding plays a central role in assembling simple biological building blocks such as sugars, amino acids, and fatty acids to form complex carbohydrates, proteins, and membranes.  What underlying thermodynamic and kinetic principles guide systems to biological homeostasis or reactivity?  What is pH, and how are proton gradients used to generate or change an organism's response?  Emphasis is on using mathematics and physical sciences to understand biological functions. Three classroom hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Enrollment is limited to first-year students who are interested in science or premedical study, who are recommended to begin with either MATH 105 or MATH 111 (Intensive), and who are enrolled in a Mathematics course but not in CHEM 151.

Admission with consent of the instructor.  Fall semester. Professor S. George and Postdoctoral Fellow J. Hebda.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

151 Introductory Chemistry

This course examines the structure of matter from both a microscopic and macroscopic viewpoint. We begin with a detailed discussion of the physical structure of atoms, followed by an analysis of how the interactions between atoms lead to the formation of molecules. The relationship between the structures of molecular compounds and their properties is then described. Experiments in the laboratory provide experience in conducting quantitative chemical measurements and illustrate principles discussed in the lectures.

Although this course has no prerequisites, students with a limited background in secondary school science should confer with one of the CHEM 151 instructors before registration. Four class hours and three hours of laboratory per week.

Fall semester: Professors Jaswal and Kushick. Spring semester: Professor O'Hara.

 

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014

161 Chemical Principles

The concepts of thermodynamic equilibrium and kinetic stability are studied. Beginning with the laws of thermodynamics, we will develop a quantitative understanding of the factors which determine the extent to which chemical reactions can occur before reaching equilibrium. Chemical kinetics is the study of the factors, such as temperature, concentrations, and catalysts, which determine the speeds at which chemical reactions occur. Appropriate laboratory experiments supplement the lecture material. Four class hours and three hours of laboratory work per week.

Requisite: CHEM 151 or 155 (this requirement may be waived for exceptionally well-prepared students; consent of the instructor is required); and MATH 111 or placement by the Mathematics department into MATH 121 or higher.

Fall semester: Professor Leung. Spring semester: Professors Leung and Young.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014

221 Organic Chemistry I

A study of the structure of organic compounds and of the influence of structure upon the chemical and physical properties of these substances. The following topics are emphasized: hybridization, resonance theory, spectroscopy, stereochemistry, acid-base properties and nucleophilic substitution reactions. Periodically, examples will be chosen from recent articles in the chemical, biochemical, and biomedical literature. Laboratory work introduces the student to basic laboratory techniques and methods of instrumental analysis. Four hours of class and four hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: CHEM 161 or equivalent.  Fall semester. Professors Bishop and Kan.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

231 Organic Chemistry II

A continuation of CHEM 221. The second semester of the organic chemistry course first examines in considerable detail the chemistry of the carbonyl group and some classic methods of organic synthesis. The latter section of the course is devoted to a deeper exploration of a few topics, among which are the following: sugars, amino acids and proteins, advanced synthesis, and acid-base catalysis in nonenzymatic and enzymatic systems. The laboratory experiments illustrate both fundamental synthetic procedures and some elementary mechanistic investigations. Four hours of class and four hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: CHEM 221.  Spring semester. Professors Bishop and Kan.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014

290, 290H, 390, 390H, 490, 490H Special Topics

A full course. 

Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014

330 Biochemical Principles of Life at the Molecular Level

What are the molecular underpinnings of processes central to life?  We will explore the chemical and structural properties of biological molecules and learn the logic used by the cell to build complex structures from a few basic raw materials. Some of these complex structures have evolved to catalyze chemical reactions with enormous degree of selectivity and specificity, and we seek to discover these enzymatic strategies. We will consider the detailed balance sheet that shows how living things harvest energy from their environment to fuel metabolic processes and to reproduce and grow.  Examples of the exquisite control that permits a cell to be responsive and adapt its responses based on input from the environment will be considered.  We will also consider some of the means by which cells respond to change and to stress.

Requisite:  BIOL 191 and CHEM  221.  Limited to 30 students.  Fall semester.  Professor O'Hara.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

331 Biochemistry

(Offered as BIOL 331, BCBP 331, and CHEM 331.) Structure and function of biologically important molecules and their role(s) in life processes. Protein conformation, enzymatic mechanisms and selected metabolic pathways will be analyzed. Additional topics may include: nucleic acid conformation, DNA/protein interactions, signal transduction and transport phenomena. Four classroom hours and four hours of laboratory work per week. Offered jointly by the Departments of Biology and Chemistry.

Requisite: CHEM 221 and BIOL 191; CHEM 231 is a co-requisite. Anyone who wishes to take the course but does not satisfy these criteria should obtain permission from the instructor. Spring semester. Professors Williamson and Springer  (Biology) and Jaswal (Chemistry).

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014

351 Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy

The theory of quantum mechanics is developed and applied to spectroscopic experiments. Topics include the basic principles of quantum mechanics; the structure of atoms, molecules, and solids; and the interpretation of infrared, visible, fluorescence, and NMR spectra. Appropriate laboratory work will be arranged. Three hours of class and four hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: CHEM 161, MATH 121, PHYS 116 or 123.  Fall semester. Professor Young.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

361 Physical Chemistry

The thermodynamic principles and the concepts of energy, entropy, and equilibrium introduced in CHEM 161 will be expanded. Statistical mechanics, which connects molecular properties to thermodynamics, will be introduced. Typical applications are non-ideal gases, phase transitions, heat engines and perpetual motion, phase equilibria in multicomponent systems, properties of solutions (including those containing electrolytes or macromolecules), and transport across biological membranes. Appropriate laboratory work is provided. Four hours of class and four hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: CHEM 161, PHYS 116 or 123, and MATH 121. MATH 211 is recommended.  Spring semester.  Professor Marshall.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014

371 Inorganic Chemistry

The structure, bonding, and symmetry of transition metal-containing molecules and inorganic solids are discussed. Structure and bonding in transition metal complexes are examined through molecular orbital and ligand field theories, with an emphasis on the magnetic, spectral, and thermodynamic properties of transition metal complexes. Reactions of transition metal complexes, including the unique chemistry of organometallic compounds, will be examined. The laboratory experiments complement lecture material and include a final independent project. Four hours of class and four hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: CHEM 221 or consent of the instructor.  Fall semester. Professor Burkett.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Fall 2013

381 Atmospheric Chemistry

As global environmental issues such as stratospheric ozone depletion and global warming have arisen, the impact of mankind on the environment, particularly the atmosphere, has become a pressing concern for both the public and scientific communities. Addressing these large-scale and highly complex problems demands a greater scientific understanding of the earth system. In this course, students will investigate Earth’s atmosphere and the chemical and physical principles that shape it. Fundamental processes that determine atmospheric composition and climate, including multistep reaction mechanisms, chemical kinetics, molecular spectroscopy, photolysis, and heterogeneous chemistry, are introduced. Specific topics treated will include atmospheric composition, structure, and motion; element cycling; the transfer of solar and longwave radiation; stratospheric composition and chemistry; tropospheric oxidation processes; air pollution; and the role of human activity in global change. Laboratory, computational, and field experiments complement the lecture material. Three hours of lecture and four hours of laboratory per week.

Requisite: CHEM 161.  Omitted 2011-12. 

2014-15: Not offered

400 Molecular and Cellular Biophysics

(Offered as PHYS 400, BIOL 400, BCBP 400, and CHEM 400.) How do the physical laws that dominate our lives change at the small length and energy scales of individual molecules? What design principles break down at the sub-cellular level and what new chemistry and physics becomes important? We will answer these questions by looking at bio-molecules, cellular substructures, and control mechanisms that work effectively in the microscopic world. How can we understand both the static and dynamic shape of proteins using the laws of thermodynamics and kinetics? How has the basic understanding of the smallest molecular motor in the world, ATP synthase, changed our understanding of friction and torque? We will explore new technologies, such as atomic force and single molecule microscopy that have allowed research into these areas. This course will address topics in each of the three major divisions of Biophysics: bio-molecular structure, biophysical techniques, and biological mechanisms.

Requisite: CHEM 161, PHYS 116/123, PHYS 117/124, BIOL 191 or evidence of equivalent coverage in pre-collegiate courses.  Fall semester. Professors Loinaz and Carter.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

498, 498D, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

A full course.

Open to Senior Honors candidates, and others with consent of the Department. Fall semester. The Department.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

Related Courses

155 Fundamental Principles of Chemistry

A study of the basic concepts of chemistry for students particularly interested in natural science. Topics to be covered include atomic and molecular structure, spectroscopy, states of matter, and stoichiometry. These physical principles are applied to a variety of inorganic, organic, and biochemical systems. Both individual and bulk properties of atoms and molecules are considered with an emphasis on the conceptual foundations and the quantitative chemical relationships which form the basis of chemical science. This course is designed to utilize the background of those students with strong preparation in secondary school chemistry and to provide both breadth in subject matter and depth in coverage. Four hours of lecture and discussion and three hours of laboratory per week.

Fall semester. Professor Marshall.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013
 

Merrill Hall