Major

Professors Bishop (Chair), Hansen, Leung, Marshall, and O'Hara; Associate Professors Burkett and Jaswal†; Assistant Professors Durr and Olshansky; Lecturer Cartier; Visiting Assistant Professor Lopez; Academic Managers Ampiah-Bonney and Reutenauer; Laboratory Instructor Kenneth Rotondi. 

*On leave 2020-21.

† On leave fall semester 2020-2021.

‡On leave spring semester 2020-2021.

Major Program. Students considering a major in Chemistry should consult a member of the Department as early as possible, preferably during their first year. This will help in the election of a program which best fits their interests and abilities and which makes full use of previous preparation. Programs can be arranged for students considering careers in chemistry, chemical physics, biochemistry, biophysical chemistry, biomedical research, medicine, and secondary school science teaching. 

The minimum requirements for a major in Chemistry are CHEM 151 or 155, 161 or 165, 221, 231, 351, 361, and 371, and one elective.  The elective can be an additional Chemistry course numbered in the 300s or 400s (excluding 498/499). Please note that some Chemistry courses require successful completion of work in other departments: for the required courses, the non-Chemistry pre-requisites are MATH 111 for CHEM 161 or 165, MATH 121 and PHYS 116 or 123 for CHEM 351 and 361.  Students are encouraged to discuss their proposed course of study for the major with a member of the Department, as there may be years when staffing considerations preclude offering one of the required courses.

Departmental Honors Program. A candidate for the degree with Honors will also elect CHEM 498 and 499D in the senior year.  Honors programs for exceptional interests, including interdisciplinary study, can be arranged on an individual basis by the departmental advisor. 

Honors candidates attend the Chemistry seminar during their junior and senior years, participating in it actively in the senior year. All Chemistry majors are required to attend the seminar in their senior year. During this seminar, discussions of topics of current interest are conducted by faculty, visitors and students. 

In the senior year an individual thesis problem is selected by the Honors candidate in conference with a member of the Department. Current areas of research in the Department are: inorganic and hybrid materials synthesis; protein-nucleic acid interactions; immunochemistry; fluorescence and single-molecule spectroscopy; high resolution molecular spectroscopy of jet-cooled species; ab initio, quantum chemical calculation of molecular properties and intermolecular interactions; chemical-genetic characterization of cell signaling enzymes; protein phosphatase inhibitor design; biochemistry of tRNA modification enzymes; investigation of the protein folding landscape of kinetically stabilized proteins; development of hydrogen exchange mass spectrometry methodology to monitor protein folding and dynamics; mechanistic studies of spectroscopy and kinetics in proton-coupled electron transfer model systems and photovoltaic materials; the design and synthesis of self-assembling organic nanostructures; and computational assessment of rapid amide-bond cleavage.

Note on Placement: The Department offers two different yearlong general-chemistry sequences: CHEM 151 followed by CHEM 161 and CHEM 155 followed by CHEM 165. Upon arrival at the College, first-year students will receive placements in either CHEM 151 or CHEM 155, based on the strength of their high school preparation in math and science.

Note that, whereas CHEM 151 is offered in both the fall and spring semesters, CHEM 155 is only offered in the fall. Therefore, incoming students who place into CHEM 155 must take the course in the fall if they wish to begin their chemistry studies during their first year at the College.

It is strongly recommended that incoming students who place into MATH 105 should take MATH 105 before taking CHEM 151. First-year students who take MATH 105 in the fall often enroll in CHEM 151 the following spring. In addition, note that MATH 111 is a prerequisite for CHEM 161. (This prerequisite can also be fulfilled by completion of both MATH 105 and MATH 106 or placement by the mathematics department into MATH 121 or higher.)

Occasionally, entering students have credit from previous college chemistry courses and wish to place out of courses in the Department’s general-chemistry sequences. Students considering placing out of one or more general-chemistry courses are advised to contact the Department soon after arriving on campus. The Department will evaluate these requests on a case-by-case basis.

Certification by the American Chemical Society: The Chemistry Department at Amherst College is among the programs approved by the American Chemical Society (ACS).  The chemistry curriculum is reviewed by the ACS Committee on Professional Training on a five-year cycle and reports are made to the ACS annually.  To earn an ACS-certified degree, Amherst College chemistry majors, in addition to the minimum requirements, must elect CHEM 331, take a second semester of Physics (PHYS 117 or 124, or receive equivalent placement from the Physics Department), and successfully complete a senior thesis in Chemistry (CHEM 498/499D).