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A Culture of Care >> Read Smith’s plans for the summer and fall 2021 semesters.

Chemistry

Chemistry student

“Chemistry is a substantial science by the measures of industry, economics, and politics. As an academic discipline, it underlies the vibrant growth of molecular biology, materials science, and medical technology. Although not the youngest of sciences, its frontiers continue to expand in remarkable ways. And although it shares boundaries with every other field of science, it has an autonomy, both methodologically and conceptually.”—Of Minds and Molecules: New Philosophical Perspectives on Chemistry, Nalini Bhushan and Stuart Rosenfeld, editors (Oxford University Press, 2000).

Spring 2021 and Fall 2021 Planning

This Spring we are welcoming students back to campus. Please know that we are trying our best to make both the in-person and remote experiences as meaningful and fulfilling as possible. We are following the college’s rigorous COVID-19 safety protocols. For more information regarding Student Life and Academics under COVID-19 go to the college’s COVID-19 Response webpages.

The College has announced that classes will be taught in person on campus, in Smith classrooms, labs, studios and other facilities in the Fall of 2021. Consult the College's planning process for more details

You should feel free to contact your adviser or the department if you have any chemistry related questions.

Be well,
The Chemistry Department

Announcements

Chemistry Seminars and Lectures

Chemists and biochemists from around the country present their current research. Check out a list of our speakers and the schedule on our events calendar. The department of biological sciences and the biochemistry program also host seminars and lectures, many of them chemical in nature. Visit their web pages for details. Our events are expected to resume in the fall.

Chemistry Lunchbags

During the academic year every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m., students and faculty get together for an informal presentation of their independent research projects. The schedule may be found on the events calendar.

Student Liaisons

Seniors: Claire Park, Rumbila Abdullahi, and Aysha Afzal
Juniors: Lilia Pronin, Melany Garcia Abreu, Anna Lynch, Akilah Williams, and Zara Woo


Requirements

  • Ability to “tell a good story” about chemistry
  • Read/write a scientific paper
  • Design experiments
  • Interpret data
  • Transfer knowledge between discrete course units
  • Authentic engagement with learning/exploration
  • Information literacy (chemistry-specific)
  • Thirty-four different desired areas of content mastery

Requirements

The chemistry major offers a variety of possibilities. Basic requirements include the following courses (many of them have mandatory accompanying labs):

  • CHM 111/111L and CHM 224/224L (or CHM 118/118L) (General Chemistry)

  • CHM 222/222L (Organic I)

  • Three out of the following four courses: CHM 331 (Physical Chemistry I), CHM 332 (Physical Chemistry II), CHM 223/223L (Organic II) or CHM 363 (Advanced Inorganic)

  • Two out of the following three lab courses: CHM 326 (Synthesis & Structural Analysis), CHM 336 (Light & Chemistry) or CHM 346 (Environmental Analytical Chemistry)

  • Additional courses to bring the total number to 10. These can be selected from courses noted above, from other chemistry electives (at or above the 300 level), from independent research (up to one course only), or from BCH 252 (Biochemistry I), BCH 352 (Biochemistry II) PHY 327 (Quantum Mechanics), PHY 319 (Thermal Physics) or GEO 301 (Aqueous Geochemistry).

Special Issues

CHM 118 can be taken in lieu of CHM 111 and CHM 224. Consult a chemistry adviser before enrolling in CHM 118. The mathematics prerequisite for CHM 331 is MTH 112. It is recommended that students take PHY 115 and MTH 212 (or PHY 210) before CHM 331. Special Studies (CHM 400 and 400D) are offered S/U only.

The chemistry minor combines a sequential introduction to basic concepts in chemistry with additional experience practicing chemistry in a laboratory setting. You also get an opportunity to study a specific subfield of chemistry in greater depth.

You must complete five courses in chemistry, including the core introductory sequence: 111/111L, 222/222L and 224/224L (or 118/118L and 222/222L) and one additional course with a laboratory component (223/223L, 332, 326, 336 or 346).

The remaining courses may be chosen from CHM courses at the 300 level or BCH 252 or BCH 352.

Honors Director

David Gorin

430d Thesis: 8 credits, full-year course; offered each year

432d Thesis: 12 credits, full-year course; offered each year

Requirements

Same as for the major, with the addition of a research project in the senior year culminating in a written thesis and an oral presentation. Faculty members will question honors students about their research.

To enter the honors program, you must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the major and a minimum overall GPA of 3.0. Students may apply no earlier than the end of the second semester junior year and no later than the beginning of first semester senior year.

Visit the Class Deans' website to learn more about the honors program, deadlines and applying. Application forms and a project proposal must be submitted to the chemistry honors director for approval by the department.

Evaluation

The final honors designation (Highest Honors, High Honors, Honors, Pass or Fail) will be based upon evaluation of the written thesis (50%), oral presentation (20%) and the GPA in the major (30%).

Deadlines

See the deadlines for 2020-21 Honors theses.
See the deadlines for 22J Honors theses.

If you have questions regarding the honors program or deadlines, please contact David Gorin.

To graduate from Smith with a certification from the American Chemical Society, you must satisfy the following five requirements:

  1. Complete CHM 111/111L and CHM 224/224L (or CHM 118/118L)
  2. Take courses in each of the five major areas of chemistry: analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic and physical. To satisfy this requirement you would take:
    • Analytical: two out of three from CHM 326, CHM 336 and CHM 346
    • Biochemistry: BCH 252
    • Inorganic: CHM 363
    • Organic: CHM 222/222L
    • Physical: CHM 332
  3. Include a minimum of at least 12 semester hours of in-depth coursework. This is satisfied by taking four courses from the following list: BCH 352, CHM 223/223L, CHM 321, CHM 328, CHM 331, CHM 338, CHM 369.
  4. Have a total of 400 hours of laboratory experience. This can be achieved at Smith in many ways. A typical example is taking the general chemistry course, the required organic course and the two lab courses required for the chemistry major, which totals 215 hours. Two other courses with labs within your program and a one-semester special studies will give you more than 400 lab hours.
  5. Math and physics requirements include MTH 111 and MTH 112 or MTH 114. You will also need PHY 117 and PHY 118 and the accompanying labs.

Possible Schedule for Certification

Note that many of the courses can be taken at different times than given here; this is one possible choice.

First Year Second Year 
CHM 111 (with lab) CHM 223 (with lab)
CHM 222 (with lab) CHM 224 (with lab)
MTH 111 CHM 326 (with lab)
MTH 112 PHY 117 (with lab)
  PHY 118 (with lab)
   
Third Year Fourth Year
CHM 331 CHM 400/430 (with lab)
CHM 363 CHM 332 (with lab)
CHM 336 (elective; with lab) CHM 430 (with lab)
CHM elective CHM elective
BCH 252  

Courses

Please check the course catalog for up-to-date information. Under Academic Porgrams select Chemistry.
You can also see the Five College course schedule.

Important Information about Fall 2021 In-Person Course Offerings

Smith College is planning to welcome all students, faculty and staff back to campus for the fall 2021 semester. To learn specific details about the plan, check the College's Fall 2021 planning webpage.

The following example shows one possible major pathway fulfilling minimum requirements for a major.

First Year Second Year 
CHM 111 (required; with lab) CHM 224 (required; with lab)
CHM 222 (required; with lab) CHM 223 (optional; with lab)
  CHM 326 (elective; with lab)
   
Third Year Fourth Year
CHM 331 (optional) CHM 363 (optional)
CHM 332 (optional; with lab) Two CHM electives
CHM 346 (elective; with lab)  
CHM 336 (elective; with lab)  

There are many possibilities for a major. For various career objectives it may be useful to take additional courses. Please discuss this with your adviser. Here are some example majors for a student who:


Schedule for a Professional Chemist

Note that the courses in the junior and senior years can be taken in many different arrangements from that given here; this is one possible choice.

First Year Second Year 
CHM 111 (with lab) CHM 223 (with lab)
CHM 222 (with lab) CHM 224 (with lab)
  CHM 336 (with lab)
   
Third Year Fourth Year
CHM 331 CHM 346 (with lab)
CHM 363 CHM 332 (with lab)
CHM 338 CHM 430 (with lab)
CHM 326 (with lab) CHM 430 (with lab)

Schedule in Preparation for Medical School

Consult with an adviser about the many possibilities here. You can also consult prehealth advising.

First Year Second Year 
CHM 111 (with lab) CHM 223 (with lab)
CHM 222 (with lab) CHM 224 (with lab)
  CHM 326 (with lab)
  BCH 252
   
Third Year Fourth Year
CHM 331 CHM 336 (with lab)
CHM 363 CHM 430 (with lab)
BCH 352  

Environmental Chemistry

Some of the public policy courses in the environmental sciences minor might be of interest; talk with an adviser.

First Year Second Year 
CHM 111 (with lab) CHM 224 (with lab)
CHM 222 (with lab) CHM 336 (with lab)
   
Third Year Fourth Year
CHM 346 (with lab) CHM 331
CHM 332 (with lab) CHM 363
GEO 301 (with lab) CHM 430 (with lab)
  CHM 430 (with lab)

Sophomore Year Start

A chemistry program is relatively easy to start even after one year without chemistry.

Second Year  Third Year
CHM 111 (with lab) CHM 223 (with lab)
CHM 222 (with lab) CHM 224 (with lab)
  BCH 252
   
Fourth Year  
CHM 331  
CHM 332 (with lab)  
CHM 346 (with lab)  
CHM 336 (with lab)  
CHM 321  

Junior Year Away

Planning ahead is crucial to doing a junior year abroad.

First Year Second Year 
CHM 111 (with lab) CHM 223 (with lab)
CHM 222 (with lab) CHM 224 (with lab)
   
Third Year Fourth Year
Elective Abroad CHM 331
  CHM 363
  CHM 346 (with lab)
  CHM 328 (with lab)

 

Emeriti Faculty

Lâle Burk
Senior Lecturer Emerita in Chemistry

George Fleck
Professor Emeritus of Chemistry

 

Robert Linck
Professor Emeritus of Chemistry

Thomas Hastings Lowry
Professor Emeritus of Chemistry

 

Faculty Mentoring Plan

Smith College and the chemistry department consider faculty mentoring at the core of faculty development. We have implemented a mentoring plan that outlines specific activities designed to facilitate mentoring.

 

Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty, as part of the STEM team at Smith, are undertaking a variety of research projects that are amenable to undergraduate participation. Undergraduate research can be done by students at all levels, as special studies, honors or summer research. Special studies and Honors are both conducted during the academic year for academic credit. Summer research opportunities are organized via the SURF program and include funding. Many research projects may have undergraduate research assistantships open. Students are encouraged to contact faculty whose general research is of interest to find out about specific opportunities.

Support to conduct research during the academic year or summer comes in many different ways. You can go see different ways in which you can explore research in these pages.

Andrew Berke

Physical and Atmospheric Chemistry

My research focuses on the uptake of small organic molecules into complex (multicomponent) aerosol-mimicking solutions and the optical properties of aerosol particles generated from those complex solutions. The goal is to characterize aerosol optical properties, such as their ability to scatter light, as a function of particle size and chemical composition. The ability of airborne particles to scatter (and absorb) sunlight is one of the least understood parameters affecting net radiative forcing in the atmosphere, which is the technical way of saying either heating (positive forcing) or cooling (negative forcing). One inherent problem is that aerosol composition can be heavily influenced by local emission sources, meaning that a simple model system cannot fully account for regional variability in aerosol optical properties and atmospheric impacts. A way to confront this problem is to systematically tailor aerosol composition and measure its subsequent optical properties. This is the approach my lab takes, using a home-built cavity-enhanced absorption spectrometer.

David Bickar

Biochemistry

My research interests have diverged into three distinct areas. The first focuses on the mechanisms of electron transfer and oxygen reduction, the proteins that catalyze these reactions and the cell damage that can ensue when these reactions go wrong. My second area of research is to determine why a small group of structurally similar compounds are selectively toxic to the neurons in one small region of the brain. My last area of study is the design and preparation of self-organizing chemical systems, based on the ligand affinities and coordination properties of metal complexes.

Maren Buck

Organic/Polymer Chemistry

My research interests fall at the intersection of organic chemistry, polymer chemistry and materials science. We use a polymer bearing reactive, azlactone functional groups to assemble multifunctional hydrogels of interest in the contexts of drug delivery, in vitro cell culture, and tissue engineering and regeneration. We are currently developing both complex 2D and 3D hydrogel scaffolds functionalized with a broad range of chemical and biological motifs that can direct the behavior of mammalian cells cultured on these materials. A second major area of research focuses on the use of these azlactone-based polymers as macromolecular drug delivery vehicles. We are fabricating nanoscale polymeric micelles that can be used to deliver chemotherapeutics with control over where and when the drug is released. We are also working in collaboration with Sarah Moore’s lab in engineering to synthesize protein-polymer-drug conjugates that specifically target cancer cells as well as cells at the blood-brain barrier.

David Gorin

Organic and Bioorganic Chemistry

My research interests fall within organic and bio-organic chemistry. Exquisitely selective chemical catalysts and reagents are needed for the modification and functional perturbation of molecules in complex contexts, such as in biological samples. Since chemists have traditionally been concerned with the transformation of a single, pure starting material into a product, few reagents are capable of directing a chemical reaction to one substrate among many. My lab uses tools from synthetic chemistry and molecular biology to develop new reagents for the directed transformation of a target compound in a mixture.

Elizabeth Jamieson

Bioinorganic Chemistry

My research interest is in the field of bioinorganic chemistry. Specifically, my lab is interested in examining how complexes of the transition metal chromium damage DNA. We use differential scanning calorimetry to see how lesions formed by chromium alter the thermodynamic stability of the DNA helix. We are also interested in investigating the structure of some of these lesions using NMR spectroscopy and in seeing how they affect the structure of nucleosomes.

Kate Queeney

Physical Chemistry

My research focuses on the general topic of chemical and physical processes at surfaces. Students in my lab use infrared spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy to study these processes in systems ranging from wet chemistry to modify semiconductor surfaces to the formation of biofilms that are important in environmental and medical applications.

Kevin Shea

Organic Chemistry

I use organic synthesis to investigate new methods for carbon-carbon bond formation and to develop syntheses of biologically active molecules. Completed research has focused on the application of tandem Nicholas and Pauson-Khand reactions for the synthesis of tricyclic heterocycles. Ongoing research involves expanding the use of cobalt-alkyne complexes in organic synthesis. Our ultimate goal is to develop a tandem Diels-Alder/Pauson-Khand protocol for the production of tetracyclic compounds. An unrelated project involves a collaboration with Adam Hall in the Smith Neuroscience Program focused on the synthesis of propofol derivatives and investigation of their anesthetic properties.  Another collaboration with Steve Williams in the Smith Biology Department aims to identify natural products as drugs to combat lymphatic filariasis. 

Alexandra Strom

Organometallic Chemistry

My research focuses on the development of new tools for synthetic chemists. The reactions we develop use organometallic catalysis to create more efficient bond-forming reactions that cut out unnecessary steps in synthetic sequences and provide new pathways to complex chemical structures from simple building blocks. One project in my group is guided by the goal of using the inherent reactivity of aromatic compounds and inexpensive catalysts to form alpha-aryl carbonyl derivatives. Another project in my group is focused on the synthesis of organometallic complexes via ligand design and complexation of the ligand with a transition metal, for the purpose of creating new catalysts to study and modify for improved reactivity.

Cristina Suarez

Physical Chemistry

My research interests focus on different areas of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Currently my main area of interest focuses on the application of solution NMR techniques to the analysis of interesting biochemical questions. We are working on the characterization of the structural and kinetic properties of lesioned short DNA structures. My lab uses a variety of NMR experiments (COSY, NOESY, exchange, etc.) to study these properties. We have also recently studied cation (Na+ and K+) transport via natural and synthetic ion transporters/channels. We are currently working on the synthesis of a cyclopeptidic transport system.

Summer Research Opportunities

Each summer Smith’s chemistry department offers a number of positions that let students participate in research in chemistry and biochemistry. To find out more about specific projects and research opportunities in the chemistry department, either:

  1. Attend one of several chemistry Lunchbag series, offered during the academic year, where faculty present an outline of their research at Smith.
  2. Directly talk to a faculty member.

Learn more about SURF student opportunities.

At Smith, undergraduate research is integral to the study of chemistry. You have exciting opportunities to conduct research within the department and during the summer.

Students and faculty use an array of advanced instrumentation for research and in classes. The department houses the following instruments:

  • Bruker 300 MHz NMR spectrometer
  • Bruker 500MHz NMR spectrometer with four available probes: a 5 mm VT BBO probe, a 5 mm VT TBI probe, a 10 mm VT BBO probe, and a 10 mm probe for selective 19F/1H observation.
  • GC-MS
  • GC-FID
  • FT-IR spectrometer
  • UV-VIS spectrometers
  • AFM
  • Polarimeter
  • Atomic absorption spectrometer
  • Variable angle ellipsometer
  • Zeta PALS particle analyzer
  • Contact angle goniometer
  • Differential scanning calorimeter
  • Nd-YAG pumped dye laser
  • EZ-stat potentiostat/galvanostat
  • CEM Discover microwave

Extensive additional equipment is maintained in the following core facilities at Smith:

Our Mission

At Smith, our mission is to promote a positive culture of safety. On the following links, you will find:

To see full details and practical safety information regarding regular research and instruction, please visit the Research & Instruction Safety website.

RESEARCH & INSTRUCTION SAFETY

The American Chemical Society advocates for the safe practice of chemistry. We follow their guidleines and recommendations. Visit their site to learn about a variety of resources and tools

ACS CHEMICAL & LABORATORY SAFETY

To Help You In and Out of Class

Study Abroad Adviser:  Maria Bickar (mbickar)

The chemistry major is designed to allow students to enjoy either a semester or a year away in a study abroad program. Students have gone to Australia, France, Great Britian, Italy and other destinations. Careful planning is essential. An example of a major pathway with the student spending junior year abroad can be seen in the Major Pathways page.

If you are considering study abroad, be sure to contact advisers in the Office for International Study to review additional details and credit requirements.

Paid Opportunities

Every semester the department offers the following paid opportunities that can help students gain practical and job-related experiences outside of the classroom:

Student teaching assistants to help instructors manage laboratory sections. If you meet the minimum classwork requirements and enjoy working with other students, the application period is typically towards the end of the semester before the course starts, although there may still be openings at the start of the semester.
Time commitment: 3 hours of introductory chemistry lab and 4 hours of an advanced lab per week.

Prep work positions for laboratory courses. We look for well-organized and dependable students to help set up our teaching labs. The work includes preparing solutions, as well as gathering and setting out reagents and equipment. The application period is the same as for teaching assistant positions.
Time commitment: hours vary and are flexible.

To apply for any of the above positions, click to download the form.

Tutoring is another way to get more teaching experience and it is a fantastic manner to practice your chemistry in preparation for the MCATs or GREs. Tutors are hired through the Spinelli Center with the recommendation of the department. We are looking for reliable and dependable students with a proven academic record who enjoy working one-on-one with other students.
Time commitment: 10 hours per week for a full-time tutor, but can be a shared position. Tutors are typically hired in April for the next academic year so you should contact faculty that you are interested in tutoring for in March.

Unpaid Opportunities

Examples of unpaid opportunities to get involved with the Smith science community include applying to be an AEMES mentor or a department liaison.

Student Prizes

In 2018 we graduated a new class of chemistry and biochemistry majors. Our students work hard and their efforts are often rewarded. The last couple of years, Smith has been the recipient of a record number of Fulbrights and other fellowships. Several of them were chemistry and biochemistry majors! This is the list of academic prizes awarded during the academic 2017–18 year.

  • ACS Division of Organic Chemistry Award in Organic Chemistry: (CHM) Anisha Tyagi ’18
  • ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry Award in Inorganic Chemistry: (CHM) Eve Xu ’20
  • ACS Division of Physical Chemistry Award in Physical Chemistry: (CHM) Emma Gubbins ’18
  • ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry Award in Analytical Chemistry: (CHM) Cindy Hu ’19
  • ACS Division of Polymer Education: (CHM) Eve Xu ’20
  • National Iota Sigma Pi Undergraduate Award Recipient: (CHM) Peyton Higgins 18 (winner of national award!)
  • National Iota Sigma Pi Gladys Anderson Emerson Award Recipient: (CHM) Claire Vison ’18 (winner of national award!)
  • American Institute of Chemists/New England Division Award: (CHM) Cindy (Xinyuan) Chen ’18
  • Connecticut Valley Section of the American Chemical Society Award: (CHM) Jesse Krejci ’18, (BCH) Jinyi Yang ’18
  • C. Pauline Burt Prize: (CHM) Mairead Bartlett '’8, (CHM) Anisha Tyagi ’18, (BCH), Jinyi Yang ’18
  • Hause-Scheffer Memorial Prize: (CHM) Peyton Higgins ’18
  • Rosenfeld Award in Organic Chemistry: (CHM) Emily Fitzgerald ’20, Eve Xu ’20
  • CRC Press Introductory Chemistry Achievement Award: Sofia Baptista ’21, Yilin (Abby) Cui ’21, Claire Gillespie ’21, Jillian Hu ’21, Halley Lin-Jones ’21
  • Hellman Award in Biochemistry: (BCH) Nicole Frumento ’18.
  • pHunger Games Winners: (all CHM)
    1st place: Mairead Bartlett ’18, Peyton Higgins ’18, Jesse Krejci ’18
    2nd place: Emma Gubbins ’18, Veronica Hernandez ’18, Emma Livernois ’18, Leigh Tanji ’18

 

 

Contact

Department of Chemistry
Ford Hall 255B
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
Phone: 413-585-3806
Fax: 413-585-4534
Email: aavard@smith.edu

Administrative Assistant: Amy Avard

Department Chair: Elizabeth R. Jamieson