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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).

News

Fall 2017 Registration:

Read here important registration information for advisors and students regarding CHM 111.

Faculty position available

The Department of Chemistry at Smith College invites applications for a tenure-track, full-time position at the rank of Assistant or Associate Professor of Chemistry, to begin July 2018. For details click here.

Chemistry Seminars and Lectures

Chemists and biochemists from around the country present their current research. Check out the upcoming schedule on our EVENTS calendar (shorcut right above). The department of Biological Sciences and the Biochemistry program also host seminars and lectures, many of them chemical in nature. Check out their web pages for details.

Chemistry Lunchbags

During the academic year on every Wednesday at noon, students and faculty get together for an informal presentation of their independent research projects. The current semester's schedule may be found on the EVENTS calendar. Grab & Go lunch for chemistry/biochemistry students is available!

Student Liaisons

Seniors: Dardalie Brooks, Peyton Higgins, Lindsey Lord
Juniors: Amina Khan, Claire Vinson, Cindy Hu

Check Out the 2017 Department Newsletter!

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:

  • 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), 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.

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 Bickar

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

A copy of the 2016-2017 deadlines can be downloaded here.

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

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  

 


Courses

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

Tentative Semester Course Offerings

Upcoming Semester, Fall 2017
  • CHM 111, Section 1—Chemistry I: General Chemistry, Nuru Stracey
  • CHM 111, Section 2—Chemistry I: General Chemistry, Cristina Suarez
  • CHM 111, Section 3—Chemistry I: General Chemistry, Chris Hamann
  • CHM 111, Section 4—Chemistry I: General Chemistry, Kevin Shea
  • CHM 118—Advanced General Chemistry, Elizabeth Jamieson
  • CHM 223, Section 1—Chemistry III: Organic Chemistry, Maren Buck
  • CHM 223, Section 2—Chemistry III: Organic Chemistry, David Gorin
  • CHM 312—Polymer Chemistry, Maren Buck
  • CHM 331—Physical Chemistry I, Kate Queeney
  • CHM 346—Environmental Analytical Chemistry, Cristina Suarez, Mona Kulp
  • CHM 357—Select Topics in Biochemistry, David Bickar
  • CHM 400—Special Studies, Members of the Department
  • CHM 430D/432D—Honors Thesis, David Bickar, Director of Honors
  • BCH 352—Biochemistry II, David Bickar
Following Semester, Spring 2018
  • CHM 100—Perspectives in Chemistry: Chemistry of Art Objects, Elizabeth Jamieson
  • CHM 108—Environmental Chemistry, Nuru Stracey
  • CHM 222, Section 1—Chemistry II: Organic Chemistry, TBA
  • CHM 222, Section 2—Chemistry II: Organic Chemistry, TBA
  • CHM 222, Section 3—Chemistry II: Organic Chemistry, TBA
  • CHM 224—Chemistry IV: Introduction to Inorganic and Physical Chemistry, Cristina Suarez
  • CHM 326—Synthesis and Structural Analysis, Chris Hamann, Rebecca Thomas
  • CHM 328—Bioorganic Chemistry, David Gorin
  • CHM 332—Physical Chemistry II, Kate Queeney
  • CHM 336—Light and Chemistry, Maren Buck, Mona Kulp
  • CHM 363—Advanced Inorganic Chemistry, Nuru Stracey
  • CHM 400—Special Studies, Members of the Department
  • CHM 430D/432D—Honors Thesis, David Bickar, Director of Honors

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)

 

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.


Emeriti

Lâle Burk
Senior Lecturer Emerita in Chemistry (2013)

George Fleck
Professor Emeritus of Chemistry (2001)

Robert Linck
Professor Emeritus of Chemistry (2017)

Thomas Hastings Lowry
Professor Emeritus of Chemistry (2000)

 


Events

 

 

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.

Research Experience for Undergraduates

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.

Synthesis and Characterization of Cyclopeptide systems

The goal of this project is to generate a series of cyclic octapeptides, which under the right circumstances form dimers capable of ion transport. This project is a collaboration with David Bickar and involves peptide chemistry, HPLC and NMR protocols. For details see Cristina Suarez.

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.

Calculational Studies of Molecular Structure and Bonding

The area of interest in these studies is the factors that govern the stability of compounds and the associated structure of those molecules. We ask why each is as it is. Currently of interest is the structure of metal carbonyl compounds, the association of metal ions with benzene and benzene derivatives, and the oxidation of molecular phosphorous. For details see Robert Linck.

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

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. Another project aims to develop novel cationic Diels-Alder dienophiles stabilized by cobalt-alkyne complexes. A third project involves production of cyclic alkynes for use in click chemistry applications. Our newest project is a collaboration with Adam Hall's neuroscience laboratory for the synthesis and biological evaluation of novel anesthetic compounds.

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:

Study Abroad Advisers

Maria Bickar, Cristina Suarez

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 2017 we graduated a new class of 22 chemistry and 12 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 2016–17 year.

  • ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry Award in Inorganic Chemistry: (CHM) Nancy (Xingyi) Guan '19
  • American Chemical Society/Polymer Education Division: (CHM) Nancy (Xingyi) Guan '19
  • American Chemical Society/Analytical Division Award: (CHM) Emma Gubbins '18
  • American Institute of Chemists/New England Division Award: (CHM) Allison Hardy '17, (BCH) Jessica Morgan '17
  • C. Pauline Burt Prize: (CHM) Megan Wancura '17, (CHM) Katie Blackford '17
  • Connecticut Valley Section of the American Chemical Society Award: (CHM) Megan Neubig '17, (BCH) Yu Zhang '17
  • CRC Press Introductory Chemistry Achievement Award: Emily Fitzgerald '20, Qiyi Qian '20, Amelia Windorski '20, Eve Xu '20.
  • Hause-Scheffer Memorial Prize: (CHM) Quinn Anex-Ries '17
  • Hellman Award in Biochemistry: (BCH) Jinyi Yang '18.
  • Rosenfeld Award in Organic Chemistry: (CHM) Nancy (Xingyi) Guan '19, Sarah Y Lee '19
  • National Iota Sigma Pi Undergraduate Award Recipient: (CHM) Katie McGeough '16
  • National Iota Sigma Pi Gladys Anderson Emerson Award Recipient: (CHM) Mairead Bartlett '18 (winner of national award!)
  • ACS Division of Organic Chemistry Award in Organic Chemistry: (CHM) Megan Wancura '17
  • pHunger Games Winners: (all CHM)

    1st place: Katie Blackford '17, Megan Wancura '17, Kate Graham-O’Regan '17
    2nd place: Quinn Anex-Ries '17, Megan Neubig '17, Heather Giguere '17

Safety

To Help You In and Out of Class

Organic Chemistry Topics

Periodic Tables & Chemistry History

 

Contact

Department of Chemistry
Ford Hall 255b
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
Phone: 413-585-4324
Fax: 413-585-4534
Email: kdefores@smith.edu

Administrative Assistant: Kelly deForest