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A Culture of Care

Read Smith’s UPDATED plans as of November 23, 2020,
for the spring 2021 semester.


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).

Fall 2020 Planning

The chemistry department realizes that students are facing tough decisions about this fall’s registration. You can find important information about the courses we plan to offer as well as information about our new chemistry placement tool for incoming students below in the Courses section. Please know that we are all trying our best to make the fall remote experience as meaningful and fulfilling as possible. You should feel free to contact your adviser or the department if we can be of further assistance.

Be well,
The Chemistry Department


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


  • 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


The chemistry major offers a variety of possibilities. Basic requirements include the following courses:

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

  • CHM 222 (Organic I)

  • Three out of the following four courses: CHM 331 (Physical Chemistry I), CHM 332 (Physical Chemistry II), CHM 223 (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, 222 and 224 (or 118 and 222) and one additional course with a laboratory component (223, 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


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.


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%).


See the deadlines for 2019–20.

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 and CHM 224 (or CHM 118)
  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
    • 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, 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  


Please check the course catalog for up-to-date information. You can also see the Five College course schedule.

Important Information about Fall Course Offerings

  • New this year: All students planning to take chemistry for the first time should complete our new online placement tool. Information about the placement tool can be found on the New Students Advising & Registration webpage. Scroll to the bottom and look at the chemistry section under “Advanced Placement & Placement Exams” for more information and instructions on how to complete this exercise. Note: You will receive recommendations about which chemistry course you should take when you meet with your Liberal Arts Adviser between August 25-26.
  • Looking for more information about introductory chemistry and course selection? Watch this short video.
  • Curious about what remote labs might look like? Here are course descriptions for some of our 100- and 200-level lab courses.  
  • Information about our courses in general:
    • We will offer three lecture sections of CHM 111 (General Chemistry I) and several lab sections of CHM 111L during the fall term.
    • Students beginning the chemistry sequence with a strong preparation in chemistry who plan to take both general and organic chemistry should consider taking CHM 114L lab during the fall term and the CHM 114 lecture during interterm.
    • We will offer two lecture sections of CHM 223 (Organic Chemistry II) and several lab sections of CHM 223L during the fall term.
    • All of the course offerings at the 300-level will be taught during the fall term; there will be no 300-level CHM courses taught during the extended interterm.

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.


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. See the Student Research Opportunities tab for examples of projects.
  3. Directly talk to a faculty member.

Learn more about student opportunities.

Following are brief descriptions of projects that the chemistry and biochemistry faculty are undertaking and that may have undergraduate research assistantships open. Undergraduate research can be done by students at all levels, as special studies, honors or summer research. Paid prep-room positions are also sometimes available. Students are encouraged to contact faculty whose research is of interest to them.

Directing Chemical Reactions with DNA Small-Molecule Conjugates

Increasingly, chemical reactions are called upon to transform molecules in nontraditional, complex contexts, such as in biological or environmental samples. To direct chemical reactions to a particular target in mixtures, we will combine the selective and high-affinity binding of DNA aptamers to their targets with the versatility and efficiency of low-molecular weight catalysts by covalently linking the two to create catalytically active DNA small- molecule catalyst conjugates (DCats). We will synthesize and evaluate DCats for their ability to selectively transform a target molecule. For details see David Gorin.

Catalytic Methylation of Oyxgen Nucleophiles

Methylations of carboxylic acids, phenols, and aliphatic alcohols are ubiquitous transformations in organic synthesis and have been used in a tremendous array of applications. We aim to develop safer alternatives to the highly toxic and unstable methylating agents currently in use. We will identify stable, commercially available sources of methyl and then design and test catalysts that facilitate methyl transfer to oxygen nucleophiles. For details see David Gorin.

Building an Absorption Spectrometer for Sensitive Atmospheric Measurements

One of the more recently developed instruments in the atmospheric chemist's toolbox is called a cavity-enhanced absorption spectrometer (CEAS). Using a cavity equipped with two highly reflective mirrors (R ~99.98%), we can measure into the parts per trillion concentration range (a part per trillion would be like trying to find three particular fish among all the fish in the ocean). A CEAS has very few parts, but each one is custom built. The current project is to update an existing design and then build our own instrument. The work involves a mixture of chemistry and engineering. For details see Andrew Berke.

NMR Structural and Kinetic Characterization of Damaged DNA

This project is a collaboration with Elizabeth Jamieson and involves the use of NMR spectroscopy to measure interatomic connectivities and distances via COSY and NOESY experiments. The kinetic behavior of base-pair opening is also studied using water exchange techniques. For details see Cristina Suarez.

Chemical Modification of Nanoscale Topography

Surface topography on the nanoscale (features ~100 nm or less in size) can affect the attachment and proliferation of microorganisms on those surfaces. We have developed a simple, reproducible way to generate such nanoscale features on silicon, and we are currently exploring ways to vary the surface chemistry on these surfaces while maintaining the underlying topography. By exploring the differential reactivity of the sides and tops of these features, we will explore the potential for varying chemistry in a controlled way, thus allowing us to have spatial control of both topography and chemistry at the same time. This work involves some simple organic synthetic techniques coupled to traditional semiconductor wet surface chemistry. The resulting surfaces are characterized by a combination of infrared spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy and contact angle goniometry. For details see Kate Queeney.

Adsorption of Biomolecules to Rough Surfaces

Our lab has done a significant amount of work on the protein-mediated adsorption of polysaccharides to flat surfaces. We are now extending that study to the nanoscale topographies described above, since biomolecule adsorption plays an important role in the interactions of microorganisms with these surfaces. We use the optical technique of ellipsometry to measure film thickness on our surfaces, and applying that technique to rough surfaces requires us to use a different model to convert the ellipsometric data to thickness. By comparing this approach to infrared spectroscopy of some thin films on our surfaces, we can potentially provide the first direct experimental evidence for theories that compare the effects of roughness on these two optical techniques. For details see Kate Queeney.

The Combined Effects of Surface Chemistry and Surface Topography on Biofilm Nucleation

This project is a collaboration with Rob Dorit in biological sciences. We prepare surfaces in our lab with varied surface chemistry and topography, then allow biofilms of Pseudomonas aeruginos to nucleate on these surfaces. Both the amount and the spatial organization of the adhering bacteria are quantified using fluorescence and confocal microscopy, allowing us to test the hypothesis that both surface chemistry and surface topography are important for biofilm formation. For details see Kate Queeney.

Catalytic oxidative alpha-arylation of carbonyl derivatives

Alpha-aryl carbonyl compounds are useful intermediates in the synthesis of complex organic molecules, such as agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals. The synthesis of these compounds usually requires pre-functionalization of either the aromatic compound or the carbonyl compound, or both. We aim to develop broadly applicable methods for the synthesis of these compounds without the need for pre-functionalization. CHM 223 and CHM 326 are very helpful preparation for joining this project. For details see Allie Strom.

Synthesis of organometallic complexes

Organometallic catalysis is a powerful tool for the identification of new reaction paradigms, due to the wide range of mechanistic possibilities for these catalytic cycles. This project is focused on the synthesis of new ligand scaffolds using a wide range of organic reactions, followed by complexation with a metal precursor. The final catalyst can then be tested for desired reactivity and properties. CHM 223 and CHM 326 are very helpful preparation for joining this project. For details see Allie Strom.

Synthesis and Purification of Novel Anesthetics

For this project, we are working in collaboration with Adam Hall’s neuroscience lab. Our goal is to synthesize and purify isomers of 2,6-dialkylcyclohexanols that the Hall lab can subsequently test for anesthetic activity. They previously demonstrated activity of mixtures of 2,6-dialkylcylohexanol isomers, and now we are working together to study single isomers.  To date, we have synthesized and purified single isomers of 2,6-dimethyl- and 2,6-diethylcyclohexanol. We are presently investigating the synthesis of the 2,6-diisopropyl derivative and preparation of unsymmetrical analogs. (Students should have completed Organic II (CHM 223) and Synthesis and Structural Analysis (CHM 326) before starting this research). For details see Kevin Shea.

Synthesis of Novel Cyclic Compounds by the Combination of Two Cobalt-Mediated Reactions

The goal of this project is to combine the Nicolas and Pauson-Khand reactions (both mediated by Co2(CO)8) to enable the quick and efficient construction of polycyclic products. An extension of this method should also allow us to investigate several key points regarding the scope of the Pauson-Khand reaction. (Students should have completed Organic II (CHM 223) and Synthesis (CHM 226) before starting this research). For details see Kevin Shea.

Synthesis of Neurolenin Analogs as Potential Treatments for Lymphatic Filariasis

For this project, we are working in collaboration with Steve Williams’s biology lab. This investigation originated with thesis work by Christine Trotta '14 and was then the subject of a course-based research experience in CHM 223 in 2014. We are presently isolating neurolenin isomers from the plant neuroleana lobata, assigning their structures via NMR, and performing reactions to generate previously unknown analogs. Our goal is to generate new molecules that the Williams lab can analyze for bioactivity using an assay for lymphatic filariasis. (Students should have completed Organic II (CHM 223) and Synthesis and Structural Analysis (CHM 326) before starting this research). For details see Kevin Shea.

Synthesis of Cyclic Alkynes via an Intramolecular Nicholas Reaction

Our lab has significant experience using a cobalt-mediated substitution reaction known as the Nicholas reaction.  We react an alkyne with dicobalt octacarbonyl to yield a cobalt-alkyne complex, a stable organometallic species.  We then add a Lewis acid to promote an intramolecular substitution reaction with nitrogen to yield a cyclic amine.  Subsequent decomplexation of cobalt yields an 8-membered ring cyclic alkyne which has potential applications in bioorthogonal cycloaddition reactions. (Students should have completed Organic II (CHM 223) and Synthesis and Structural Analysis (CHM 326) before starting this research). For details see Kevin Shea.

Synthesis of Tetracycles Using a Tandem Diels-Alder/Pauson-Khand Reaction

The goal of this project is to quickly and efficiently transform an acyclic molecule in one step to a complex tetracyclic structure. Our strategy is to synthesize an acyclic molecule that can undergo a Diels-Alder reaction followed by a Pauson-Khand reaction to generate four new rings. In addition, we predict that the cobalt-complexed alkyne needed for the Pauson-Khand step will accelerate the Diels-Alder reaction. We are presently exploring a synthetic route to the key acyclic molecule needed to generate the target tetracycle. (Students should have completed Organic II (CHM 223) and Synthesis and Structural Analysis (CHM 326) before starting this research). For details see Kevin Shea.

Chromium-Induced DNA Damage

Chromium(VI) is a well-established carcinogen that causes different types of DNA damage. One area of investigation in the lab is to examine the effect of chromium-induced lesions on the thermodynamic stability of DNA using differential scanning calorimetry. We are also interested in using NMR spectroscopic techniques in collaboration with Cristina Suarez to gain structural information for some of these unusual lesions. In collaboration with Megan Nunez at Wellesley College, we are studying the effect of these DNA lesions on nucleosome particles. We hope that by more fully characterizing some of these lesions, we will better understand the processes that occur in cells and how chromium causes cancer. For details see Elizabeth Jamieson.

Synthesis and Characterization of Block Copolymer Micelles

This project focuses on the synthesis of amphiphilic block copolymers that self-assemble in water into small (nanoscale), roughly spherical particles called micelles. Micelles are attractive vehicles for drug delivery because they can encapsulate and facilitate the delivery and release of a variety of small molecule drugs as well as biomolecules such as peptides, proteins, or DNA. We aim to use chemical synthesis to tailor these nanomaterials such that they can deliver a therapeutic to a particular tissue or cell type (i.e., targeted drug delivery) and release the encapsulated cargo upon the application of a particular stimulus (e.g., change in pH, redox potential, temperature, etc.). For details, see Maren Buck.

Assembly and Characterization of Multifunctional Polymer Hydrogels

Hydrogels are crosslinked polymeric networks that absorb substantial amounts of water. They are attractive for a variety of applications, such as as scaffolds for tissue engineering and regeneration, wound healing, and drug delivery. The goal of this project is to investigate the assembly of covalently crosslinked hydrogels using a reactive polymer bearing azlactone functional groups. The azlactone group rapidly undergoes a ring-opening reaction with amine nucleophiles. Macroscopic gels can be formed through mixing of diamines with azlactone-functionalized polymers. We aim to investigate the ability to modify these gels post-assembly with a broad range of functional amines (e.g., peptides, proteins, etc.) and subsequently, design gels that are useful as wound healing, tissue regeneration, and/or drug delivery scaffolds. For details, see Maren Buck.

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


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.

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.



Safety Committee for Research & Instruction

  • Thomas Richardson, Administrative Director, Clark Science Center
  • Margaret Rakas, Chemical Hygiene Officer, Clark Science Center
  • Paul Voss, Engineering 
  • Jesse Bellemare, Biological Sciences
  • Cristina Suarez, Chemistry 
  • Lindsey Clark-Ryan, Studio Art
  • Sarah Mazza, Geosciences
  • William Williams, Physics

For a full listing of elected and appointed committees, see the provost’s office website page on Governance & Committees.

Periodic Tables & Chemistry History

To Help You In and Out of Class

Organic Chemistry Topics

Study Abroad Advisers

Maria Bickar

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




Department of Chemistry
Ford Hall 255B
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
Phone: 413-585-3806
Fax: 413-585-4534

Administrative Assistant: Amy Avard

Department Chair: Elizabeth R. Jamieson