Living organisms require resources to fuel the processes necessary for staying alive. We require a certain number of calories to fuel metabolic processes and to provide building blocks to replace old cells and build new ones. Our food should provide a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals that we need to consume regularly for a healthy existence. Yet humans have developed another relationship with food that can be either enriching or pathological. Sharing meals with others, developing the skills to enjoy the sensory pleasures of food, learning about other cultures through their gastronomic habits, and eating moderately while consciously are all examples of a deeper productive relationship with food. On the darker side, food can be a palliative to relieve our stress or satiate our addictions to sugar, fats, or salt. Modern humans can be so far removed from our food sources that we lose the connection between animal and meat and do not know if the food on our plates contains added hormones, pesticides, or genetically modified products. This course will examine our core requirements for food as we eat to live, and some of the cultural, social, historical, and culinary dimensions as we live to eat. Readings will include On Food and Cooking, by Harold McGee, The Third Plate by Dan Barber, We Fed an Island by José Andrés, and selections from Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Maxime Billet.
The two sections will meet together for 80-minute lecture/demos twice a week, and each section will meet separately for a culinary lab once a week for 80 minutes.
Limited to 32 students. Spring semester. Professor O'Hara.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as ARHA 110 and CHEM 110.) This interdisciplinary course is focused on exploring color through the lenses of science, culture and art. We will study how we perceive color down to the molecular level and how it impacts us as viewers. The course will seek to develop a broad, shared, set of topics that will allow students to weave together scientific and artistic concepts, rather than isolate them. As it is possible to approach color from many different disciplines, we encourage any interested student, regardless of academic focus, to register. A core goal of the course is to encourage a holistic discussion of the topic. Students will be asked to write about their observations of color through art and will have the opportunity to make their own original pieces. In addition, class activities will include lectures, invited speakers, discussion, and a final project.
Limited to 18 students. Professor Durr and Professor Clark.2021-22: Not offered
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 component provide experience in conducting quantitative chemical measurements and illustrate principles discussed in the lectures. Placement into CHEM 151 is determined by the chemistry department.
Each laboratory section is limited to 20 students. In the fall, sufficient laboratory sections will be added to meet total enrollment. The spring semester is limited to two laboratory sections. Four class hours and three hours of laboratory per week.
Fall Semester: Professor Burkett. Spring Semester: Professor Durr.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
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 science and mathematics and to provide both breadth in subject matter and depth in coverage. Placement into CHEM 155 is determined by the chemistry department. Four hours of lecture and discussion and three hours of laboratory per week.
Each laboratory section is limited to 20 students. Sufficient sections will be added to meet total enrollment.
Fall semester: Professor Olshansky.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
As a bridge to prior learning, we will begin with the study of intermolecular forces and their ubiquitous role in chemistry and biology. We will then introduce chemical kinetics to understand the role temperature, concentration, and catalysts play in determining the speeds at which chemical reactions occur and to introduce the concept of chemical equilibrium. Through a thorough treatment of 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 the state of equilibrium. The course will consist of asynchronous lectures and synchronous group work, discussion, problem solving, and labs. Appropriate laboratory experiments supplement the lecture material. Four class hours and three hours of laboratory work per week.
Requisite: CHEM 151, or consent of the instructor; and MATH 111 or placement by the Mathematics department into MATH 121 or higher.
Fall and Spring semesters: Lecturer Cartier.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
The concepts of thermodynamic equilibrium and kinetic reactivity will be studied. The course seeks to understand the dynamics of chemical reactions. Specifically, we will be exploring the issues that control whether a specific reaction can occur (i.e., if it is even possible) and how fast a feasible reaction will occur. Closely connected to the first concern is the position of chemical equilibrium, which defines the direction in which a reaction will proceed and the extent to which it will occur. In spite of its universality in describing systems at equilibrium and whether interconversions are possible, thermodynamics makes no statement about the rate at which equilibrium is approached. We will use the language of thermodynamics to investigate chemical kinetics, the study of factors that determine reactions rates. This course is designed to utilize the background of those students with strong preparation in science and mathematics and to provide both breadth in subject matter and depth in coverage. Each laboratory section is limited to 24 students; sufficient sections will be added to meet total enrollment. Four class hours and three hours of laboratory work per week.
Requisite: CHEM 155, or consent of instructor; MATH 111, or placement by the Mathematics department into MATH 121 or higher.
Spring semester: Professors Leung and Marshall.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
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, stereochemistry, acid-base properties, nucleophilic substitution reactions, and spectroscopy. 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. Each laboratory section is limited to 20 students. In the fall, sufficient sections will be added to meet total enrollment. The spring semester is limited to two laboratory sections. Three hours of lecture, one hour of discussion section, and three and one-half hours of laboratory per week.
Prerequisite: CHEM 161 or CHEM 165.
Fall Semester: Professor Hansen; Spring Semester: The Department.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
A continuation of CHEM 221. The second semester of the organic chemistry course first examines the chemistry of aromatic derivatives and then in considerable detail the chemistry of the carbonyl group and some classic methods of organic synthesis. Periodically, examples will be chosen from recent articles in the chemical, biochemical, and biomedical literature. The laboratory experiments illustrate both fundamental synthetic procedures and some elementary mechanistic investigations. Four hours of class and three and a half hours of laboratory per week.
Prerequisite: CHEM 221.
Fall Semester: Professors Wiscons and Bishop; Spring Semester: The Department.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
(Offered as BIOL 250, CHEM 250) This is an interactive course that combines academic inquiry and community engagement to investigate identity, inequality and representation within Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields--at Amherst and beyond. We begin the course by grounding our understanding of the STEM experience at Amherst in national and global contexts. We will survey the interdisciplinary literature on the ways in which identity - race, gender, class, ability, sexuality- and geographic context shape STEM persistence and belonging. We will bring this literature into conversation with our own Amherst experiences. These challenging conversations require vulnerability, openness and the ability to tolerate discomfort. We will work from day one to build a brave space whose foundation is trust, accountability and growth. Students will design group projects that apply themes from the literature and our seminar discussions to develop resources and engage the STEM community, whether at the college, local, or national level. Course work includes critical reading and discussion, reflective writing, and collaborative work culminating in community engagement proposals which students will share with the campus and the broader public.
Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors. This course will be taught in two sections
Offered Spring Semester: Professor Jaswal and TBD.2021-22: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022
In this discussion- and project-based course, students will learn about the historical context and systemic exclusion inherent to the development of western science. Students will explore the role that chemistry has played in human society and how social structures have, in turn, influenced the field of chemistry. With this context established, students will research contemporary strategies that are or have been employed to make the field of chemistry more inclusive within classroom and research settings. Students will then execute independent projects to more deeply explore the interconnectedness between topics of identity (such as race, sex, and socioeconomic status), inclusive practices, and Chemistry within the Amherst College community or broader communities.
Prerequisite: CHEM-151 or CHEM-155
Limited to 20 students. Fall Semester: Professors Olshansky and Wiscons.2021-22: Not offered
Independent reading or research course. Full course.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall and spring semesters. The Department.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
(Offered as CHEM 330 and BIOL 330) 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 an 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. A student may not receive credit for both CHEM/BIOL 330 and BCBP/BIOL/CHEM 331. Note: BCBP/BIOL/CHEM 331 is a requirement for the biochemistry track of the BCBP major, so prospective BCBP majors should not enroll in CHEM/BIOL 330 if they are considering the biochemistry track of the major.
Requisite: BIOL 191 and CHEM 221. Limited to 40 students with 20 students per discussion section.
Spring Semester: Professor Bishop and TBD.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
(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. A student may not receive credit for both CHEM/BIOL 330 and BCBP/BIOL/CHEM 331.
BCBP/BIOL/CHEM 331 is a requirement for the biochemistry track of the BCBP major, so prospective BCBP majors should not enroll in CHEM/BIOL 330 if they are considering the biochemistry track of the major.
Requisite: CHEM 231 and BIOL 191; or consent of the instructor. (CHEM 231 may be taken either as a prerequisite or as a co-requisite.) Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professors Jaswal and Wu Orr.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
The foundations of analytical chemistry are explored and developed in this course. These include principles of experimental design, sampling, calibration strategies, standardization, statistics, and the validation of experimental results. The course begins with a rapid review of the basic tools necessary for analytical chemistry (significant figures, units, and stoichiometry) and an introduction to the terminology of analytical chemistry. It continues with a number of topics important for understanding how analytical methods work: statistical analysis of data, standardization methods and means for calibrating equipment, applications of equilibrium chemistry in analytical chemistry, methods of sample collection, and separation of analytes and the removal of interferents. Major methods of analysis, including gravimetry, titrimetry, spectroscopy, and electrochemistry, are covered. Appropriate laboratory work will be arranged. Three hours of class and three and one-half hours of laboratory per week.
Requisite: CHEM 161 or 165, CHEM 221, and MATH 121. Limited to 24 students.
Omitted 2022-2023.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
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, and fluorescence spectra. Appropriate laboratory work will be arranged. Three hours of class and four hours of laboratory per week.
Requisite: CHEM 161 or 165, CHEM 221, MATH 121, PHYS 116 or 123. Limited to 24 students.
Fall semester: Professor Leung.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
The thermodynamic principles and the concepts of energy, entropy, and equilibrium introduced in CHEM 161/165 will be expanded. Statistical mechanics, which connects molecular properties to thermodynamics, will be introduced. We will spend significant time constructing, analyzing, and interpreting microscopic models of matter and will use these models to understand our macroscopic world. Examples will be drawn from chemistry, biology, and nanoscience and include non-ideal gases, solid-state materials, phase transitions, phase equilibria in multicomponent systems, properties of solutions, protein folding, and ligand binding. Appropriate laboratory work is provided. Three hours of class and four hours of laboratory per week.
Requisite: CHEM 161 or 165, PHYS 116 or 123, and MATH 121. MATH 211 is recommended. Limited to 30 students.
Spring semester: Professor Olshansky.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
This course will discuss structure, bonding, and properties of transition metal-containing molecules and inorganic solids. Students will examine structure and bonding in transition metal complexes through molecular orbital and ligand field theories, with an emphasis on the magnetic, spectroscopic, and thermodynamic properties of transition metal complexes. The class will also examine reactions of transition metal complexes, including the unique chemistry of organometallic compounds. The laboratory experiments complement lecture material and include an independent project. Three hours of class, one hour of discussion and four hours of laboratory per week.
Requisite: CHEM 221 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students.
Fall semester: Professor Durr.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Materials – both naturally occurring and human-made – are the solid "stuff" of everyday life. Technological advances are often limited by materials challenges and are often driven by the development of new materials. A fundamental principle of materials science is that the properties of a solid are related to its atomic and molecular structure, as well as to its organization on larger length scales than are traditionally considered in chemistry. We will explore the connections within the "materials science tetrahedron" of structure, properties, processing, and performance for a range of materials including metals, glasses and ceramics, polymers or plastics, and composites. Specific systems may include semiconductors and materials for electronics technology, energy and battery materials, optical and photovoltaic materials, “smart” responsive or self-healing materials, materials for sports and apparel, renewably sourced and recyclable materials, natural and bioinspired materials, biomedical materials, and art and architectural materials and conservation.
Requisite: CHEM 151 or 155, plus two courses in CHEM and/or PHYS, or instructor permission. Limited to 12 students.
Omitted: 2022-2023.2021-22: Not offered
(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 161/165, PHYS 116/123, PHYS 117/124, BIOL 191 or evidence of equivalent coverage in pre-collegiate courses. 2022-2023 Spring semester. Professor Carter.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
A full course.
Open to Senior Honors candidates with consent of the Department. Fall semester. The Department.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021