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Chemistry

Year:

2020-21

100 Molecular Gastronomy and Food Science: From Test Tubes to Taste Buds

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. Omitted 2020-2021.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020

110 Color Study

(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. Spring semester. Professors Durr and Clark. 

2020-21: Offered in Spring 2021

120 Plant Cultures: Chemical Perspectives on Slavery and the Land. 

(Offered as ARHA 120, CHEM 120 and ARCH 120)  This course introduces students to the social and chemical characteristics of the buildings and landscapes that slaves constructed in North Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, West Africa, and the Indian Ocean from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. In looking at construction histories from Suriname to Bengal, we will engage the knowledge of plants that enslaved builders wielded to raise structures made of wood, straw, coral, earth, and fibers. Recognizing that construction involves both the assemblage of dwellings and the mastery of resources, we will also approach a number of topics, including but not limited to: the usage of aloe on the part of enslaved loggers in Mauritius to heal the wounds that their hatchets inflicted upon them; the role of forced labor in the establishment of the wine industry and its vineyards in French colonial Algeria; the usage of marijuana as a medicinal agent among enslaved construction laborers from West Africa to the Caribbean; garden construction, meal preparation, and the poisoning of slave owners in Haiti; and contemporary efforts to preserve the landscapes of enslaved plant knowledge in the age of climate change. Each week, students will participate in activities designed to cultivate a more nuanced understanding of the chemical properties of the plant specimens addressed. Lectures and discussions will attempt to bridge the gap between chemistry and architectural studies by combining analyses of humanities readings with investigations of plant-based natural products. The goal will be to foster an understanding of both enslaved plant knowledge and the plants themselves that have defined construction labor under slavery. 

No prerequisites. No prior knowledge of chemistry or architectural history is required for this class.  Class will meet synchronously. 

January Term, 2021:  Professors Alberto Lopez and Dwight Carey. 

2020-21: Offered in January 2021
Other years: Offered in January 2021

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 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.

For Fall 2020 and Spring 2021: The course will involve asynchronous online lectures and synchronous online small-group problem-solving sessions and labs.  There may be some opportunities for small-group in-person interaction with instructors and other students as health and safety considerations permit. Small-group sessions will have 20 or fewer students.  Within these sessions, specific student groupings and activities are designed to foster interaction and community. 

Fall and Spring Semesters: Professors O'Hara and Burkett.

2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021
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, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, , Fall 2020

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 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. 

In Fall 2020, the lectures and laboratories in CHEM-155 will be online.  It is our hope that most of the discussion sections will be presented in person for those on campus with one or more sections offered online for those participating through remote learning.  Office hours will likewise be offered both in person and online.

Fall semester. Professors Marshall and Olshansky

2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

161 Chemical Principles

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 semester: Lecturer Cartier. Spring Semester: Lecturer Cartier and Professor Durr. 

2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021
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, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020

165 Foundations of Thermodynamics and Kinetics

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.

In Spring 2021, it is our hope that the CHEM 165 lectures will be offered in-person with all meetings also accessible to students who participate in the class through remote learning.  If this proves impossible or impractical, then the lectures will be presented online only.  Discussion sections will be presented in person for those on campus with one or more sections offered online for those participating through remote learning.  It is likely that laboratory sections will be offered entirely online.  Office hours will be offered both in person and online.

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.

2020-21: Offered in Spring 2021

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. 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.

In fall 2020, Chemistry 221 will be taught remotely. Lectures, discussion sections, and laboratory sections will be held synchronously and will also be recorded for asynchronous learning. All course resources will be posted and organized for ready access on Moodle. A class calendar will be continually updated with important dates and reminders. The interactive program Mural will be employed for group exercises, and submitted work will be graded through the Gradescope interface. Both written and recorded answer keys will be provided for all discussion section problems, and recorded answers to “one-minute sheet” questions submitted by students after each lecture will also be provided.

Requisite: CHEM 161 or CHEM 165.

Fall semester: Professor Hansen, Visiting Assistant Professor Lopez and Lab Manager Reutenauer. Spring semester: Visiting Assistant Professor Lopez.

2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

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 three and a half hours of laboratory per week.

Prerequisite: CHEM 221.

Spring semester: Professor Hansen and Professor Bishop.

2020-21: Offered in Spring 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

250 Being Human in STEM

(Offered as BIO 250, CHEM 250, LLAS 250 and SOCI 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 projects which students will share with the campus and the broader public. The class will meet synchronously most days for the remote January term and will also involve asynchronous small group work.

Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors. This course will be taught in two sections, each taught by a partnering of a scientist and a humanist/social scientist. Each section will be limited to 18 students due to the remote format and the discussion- and project-based nature of the class.

January Term. Professors Jaswal, Corañez Bolton, Schmalzbauer and Trapani.

2020-21: Offered in January 2021, Spring 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2021

330 Biochemical Principles of Life at the Molecular Level

(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 330 and BCBP/BIOL/CHEM 331.

Requisite: BIOL 191 and CHEM  221. Limited to 40 students with 20 students per discussion section.

Spring semester. Professors Bishop and Jeong.

2020-21: Offered in Spring 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2020

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. A student may not receive credit for both BCBP/BIOL/CHEM 331 and CHEM 330.

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 Bishop and Wu Orr. 

2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

341 Foundations of Analytical Chemistry

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 2020-2021.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

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.

In Fall 2020, it is hoped that the CHEM 351 lectures will be offered in-person with all meetings also accessible to students who participate in the class through remote learning.  The laboratory sections will be offered in an online format.  Office hours will be offered both in person and online.

Requisite: CHEM 161 or 165, CHEM 221, MATH 121, PHYS 116 or 123. Limited to 24 students.

Fall semester. Professor Leung.

2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

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 or 165, PHYS 116 or 123, and MATH 121. MATH 211 is recommended. Limited to 24 students.

Spring semester. Assistant Professor Olshansky and Lecturer Cartier. 

2020-21: Offered in Spring 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

371 Inorganic Chemistry

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 and four hours of laboratory per week.

For Fall 2020:  All laboratory will be remote.  There will also be asynchronous content and in-person meetings.

Requisite: CHEM 221 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students.

Fall semester. Professor Durr.

2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

380 Introduction to Materials Science

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.

For Spring 2021:  The course will involve synchronous class meetings, which will be in person if health and safety considerations permit.  The class will have 12 or fewer students, so all lecture and discussion sessions will be interactive.  The class will involve small-group project work. 

Requisite: Three Amherst College or Five College courses in CHEM and/or PHYS, or instructor permission. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Professor Burkett. 

2020-21: Offered in Spring 2021

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.

For Spring 2021: This course will be a hybrid model using both asynchronous and synchronous group work.  The course will meet in-person as health and safety considerations permit.

Requisite: CHEM 161/165, PHYS 116/123, PHYS 117/124, BIOL 191 or evidence of equivalent coverage in pre-collegiate courses. Spring semester. Professors Jaswal and Loinaz. 

2020-21: Offered in Spring 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020,

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

Independent reading course. A full course.

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

2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020

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

A full course.

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

2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020