Academic Course Catalogs

Drop Shadow


Chemistry and Biochemistry

Deborah C. Tahmassebi, PhD, CHAIR
Lauren B. Benz, PhD
James P. Bolender, PhD
Mary K. Boyd, PhD
Timothy B. Clark, PhD
Christopher J. A. Daley, PhD
David O. De Haan, PhD
Robert N. Dutnall, PhD
Tammy J. Dwyer, PhD
Thomas R. Herrinton, PhD
Peter M. Iovine, PhD
Jeremy S. Kua, PhD
Mitchell R. Malachowski, PhD
Stephen A. Mills, PhD

Chemistry is the study of matter and energy and the changes they undergo. It plays a key role in understanding the natural universe and in the scientific and technological revolution that has shaped modern society. Biochemistry is the study of the chemical nature and processes that occur in biological systems.

The programs offered in chemistry and biochemistry provide a strong foundation in the principles and practices of modern chemistry and biochemistry within the framework of a liberal arts education. The majors are designed to give students both the theoretical bases of the disciplines and extensive hands-on experience testing theories in the laboratory. We also offer courses that fulfill the physical sciences portion of the core curriculum requirements. These courses are designed to acquaint students majoring outside the natural sciences with the basic principles and methods of modern science and with the history and development of scientific thought.

The American Chemical Society (ACS), a national organization that develops and administers guidelines defining high quality undergraduate chemistry and biochemistry programs, has approved USD’s curriculum. This allows majors the option of enhancing their career choices by earning an ACS-certified degree.

The department is distinguished by its dedication to undergraduate research and teaching. All full-time faculty members have active research programs in which undergraduates fully participate. These activities lead, in many cases, to new discoveries and publications in major scientific journals with students as co-authors.

Our students are the main users of the department’s scientific instrument holdings, which include over $2 million in state-of-the-art equipment. We regularly upgrade and add new instruments to keep abreast with new technologies, thus preparing our students for their future professional needs. Current instrumentation used in the department includes an atomic absorption facility, an NMR facility including two spectrometers (400 MHz and 500 MHz), a molecular modeling facility with dedicated workstations and software for computational chemistry, a thermogravimetric suite including a differential scanning calorimeter and gravimetric analyzer, and a laser facility. In addition, we have a single crystal x-ray diffraction system, and a spacious spectrometer facility housing UV-Vis, IR, fluorescence, circular dichroism, and gas chromatograph mass spectrometers.

A major in chemistry or biochemistry prepares a student for a variety of different career possibilities. Professional chemists and biochemists may select careers in areas such as basic or applied research, production and marketing, consulting, testing and analysis, administration, management, business enterprise, and teaching. They are employed in the chemical, pharmaceutical, petroleum, energy, engineering, and “biotech” industries; by government laboratories and agencies working on health, energy, and the environment; in consulting firms; and by educational institutions at all levels. Undergraduate training in chemistry and biochemistry provides a solid foundation for many other areas such as medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, oceanography, geochemistry, chemical engineering, forensics, environmental studies, molecular biology, and law.

Two programs of study are available, differing in their focus: The chemistry major is designed to qualify students for admission to graduate school in chemistry; positions as chemists; admission to medical, dental, and pharmacy schools; or secondary teaching.

Chemistry Major

Preparation for the Major:

CHEM 151, 152, 151L, 152L, 220; MATH 150, 151; PHYS 270, 271.

The Major:

The 32 units of upper division work must include CHEM 301, 302, 301L, 302L, 311, 312, 331, 396W, 440, 489, one elective, and two of the following advanced laboratories: CHEM 421, 423, 425, and 427. Electives may be chosen from other chemistry courses for which prerequisites have been met. CHEM 496 may not be applied toward the 32 unit requirement. Those planning for graduate work in chemistry are recommended to complete the ACS-certified degree and to take additional Upper-Division Electives in chemistry, mathematics or physics depending on the area of interest. Chemistry majors may complete an ACS-certified degree with any two UD labs (42X). For students who elect to take CHEM 421 and CHEM 425, their CHEM 396W research must be in the areas of biochemistry and/or inorganic chemistry to complete an ACS-certified degree.

The biochemistry major is designed to prepare students for graduate work in biochemistry, molecular biology, pharmacology, pharmaceutical and clinical chemistry; positions as biochemists; admission to medical, dental, and pharmacy schools; or secondary teaching.

Chemistry, Recommended Program of Study

Biochemistry Major

Preparation for the Major:

CHEM 151, 152, 151L, 152L, 220; Math 150, 151: PHYS 270, 271; BIOL 190, 225, 225L, 300.

The Major: The 29 units of upper division work must include CHEM 301, 302, 301L, 302L, 311, 314, 331, 335, 396W, 489, one elective, and one of the following advanced laboratories: CHEM 421, 423, 425, or 427. Electives may be chosen from other chemistry courses for which prerequisites have been met or BIOL 342, 376, 382, 480, 482 or 484. CHEM 496 may not be applied toward the 29 unit requirement. Those planning for graduate work are recommended to take additional Upper-Division Electives in chemistry, biochemistry or biology depending on the area of interest. To obtain an ACS-certified bachelor’s degree, biochemistry majors must complete CHEM 440 or an elective course in inorganic chemistry.

Chemistry, Recommended Program of Study

Chemistry Minor

Minimum requirements for a minor in chemistry are: CHEM 151, 152, 151L, 152L and ten units of upper division chemistry. Students taking the minor to enhance employment possibilities in biotechnology, pharmaceutical industry or pharmacy school are advised to take CHEM 220.

Major Field Test Graduation Requirement

As a part of the department’s assessment program, each graduating senior is required to take the major field test in chemistry (CHEM 489). A student who fails to take the major field test may be restricted from graduating.

Other Programs:

Several professional options are open to the chemistry major in addition to the pursuit of a career in chemistry or biochemistry.

Pre-Medicine/Pre-Dentistry/Pre-Pharmacy

The liberal arts curriculum provides an excellent background for graduate education in the health professions. Students planning to apply for admission to medical, dental or pharmacy schools may elect to major in any of the academic disciplines within the college, but in most cases it is advantageous to major in one of the sciences. Students may select either the chemistry or biochemistry major as preparation. The specific science courses recommended for undergraduates differ for different professional schools but should include BIOL 221, 221L, 225, 225L and any additional science courses recommended by the Director of Pre-Health Advising.

Chemistry Courses (CHEM)

CHEM 101             CHEMISTRY AND SOCIETY (3)

A course designed for the non-science major that focuses on the major ideas of modern chemistry and the role that chemistry plays in a technological society. The evolution of our understanding of atomic and molecular structure and chemical reactivity will be examined as examples of the scientific method and the very human nature of the scientific endeavor. The role of modern chemistry in both the creation and the solution of societal problems will also receive considerable attention. The problems examined, which may vary in different sections, include: the energy crisis, air and water pollution, global warming, nutrition and food additives, household chemicals, pesticides and agrochemicals, and nuclear power. Two lectures weekly. Every semester.

CHEM 103             DNA SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (3)

A course designed for the non-science major that covers basic physical science concepts and how they apply to the discovery and study of DNA as the genetic material, the simplicity of the three-dimensional structure of DNA and the many implications to be drawn from this structure. It explores the concepts involved in recombinant DNA technology and its applications to the pharmaceutical industry, agriculture, forensics, gene therapy and AIDS research. Two lectures weekly. Every semester.

CHEM 105             PHYSICAL SCIENCE FOR K-8 TEACHERS (3)

A laboratory/lecture/discussion class designed to lead students toward an understanding of selected topics in chemistry and physics. The course topics are selected to satisfy the physical science specifications of the science content standards for California Public Schools (K-12). Enrollment is limited to liberal studies majors. Two two-hour laboratory sessions per week. Fall semester. This course is cross-listed with PHYS 105.

CHEM 111             CHEMISTRY AND SOCIETY WITH LABORATORY (3)

A course designed for the non-science major that focuses on the major ideas of modern chemistry and the role that chemistry plays in a technological society. The lecture content is similar to that in CHEM 101 (above); however, this course includes a laboratory that will satisfy the general education requirement for a laboratory course in the natural sciences. Two lectures and one laboratory/discussion weekly. Spring semester.

CHEM 151-152      GENERAL CHEMISTRY (3-3)

A two semester lecture course which introduces the fundamental principles of modern chemistry. These principles, which include atomic and molecular structure, periodicity, reactivity, stoichiometry, equilibrium, kinetics, thermodynamics, bonding, acid-base chemistry, redox chemistry, and states of matter, will be used in and expanded upon in more advanced courses. Three lectures weekly. Prerequisites: Eligibility for Math 115 or higher, completion of or concurrent registration in CHEM 151L-152L Every semester.

CHEM 152H          HONORS GENERAL CHEMISTRY (3)

An honors course which parallels CHEM 152. The topics are covered in greater depth than in CHEM 152, and additional applications of chemistry are included. Three lectures weekly. Spring semester. Prerequisites: CHEM 151, 151L and consent of instructor, completion of or concurrent registration in CHEM 152

CHEM 151L-152L  GENERAL CHEMISTRY LABORATORY (1-1)

A laboratory course which introduces the concepts and techniques of experimental chemistry. CHEM 151L has one laboratory period that meets biweekly. CHEM 152L has one laboratory period that meets every week. Pre-requisites: completion of or concurrent registration in CHEM 151-152. Every year.

CHEM 220             ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY (3)

An introduction to the principles and practices of analytical chemistry with an emphasis on quantitative methods. Classical methods such as titrimetric and volumetric analyses as well as basic instrumental methods involving spectroscopy, electrochemistry, and chromatography will be performed. Some experiments will be of the project type. One laboratory and one lecture weekly. Prerequisites: CHEM 152, 152L. Every semester.

CHEM 301-302      ORGANIC CHEMISTRY (3-3)

A two-semester introduction to basic organic chemistry. The relationship of structure and bonding in organic compounds to reactivity will be emphasized. Reactions will be discussed from mechanistic and synthetic perspectives. Three lectures weekly. Prerequisites: CHEM 152, completion of or concurrent registration in CHEM 301L-302L. Every year.

CHEM 301L-302L  ORGANIC CHEMISTRY LABORATORY (1-1)

This course is designed to follow the material presented in Chem 301, 302. Microscale experimental techniques will be emphasized. Experiments include: recrystallization, distillation, extraction, chromatography, spectroscopy, kinetics, multi-step syntheses, and structure determination. One laboratory period weekly. Prerequisites: CHEM 151L-152L, completion of or concurrent registration in CHEM 301-302.

CHEM 311             PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY (3)

This course covers modern physical chemistry, including atomic and molecular structure, and spectroscopy. Three lectures weekly. Fall semester. Prerequisites: CHEM 152, MATH 151, and PHYS 270, completion of or concurrent enrollment in PHYS 271 or consent of instructor.

CHEM 312             PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY (3)

This course focuses on the classical principles of thermodynamics, kinetics, and statistical mechanics. Three lectures weekly. Spring semester. Prerequisite: CHEM 311 or consent of instructor.

CHEM 314             BIOPHYSICAL CHEMISTRY (3)

This course will apply the principles of thermodynamics, equilibria and kinetics toward biological systems including proteins, nucleic acids and membranes. These principles will be applied toward understanding the structure and function of biological macromolecules. Three lectures weekly. Spring semester. Prerequisites: BIOL 225, PHYS 270, and MATH 151, completion of or concurrent registration in CHEM 331.

CHEM 331             BIOCHEMISTRY (3)

The structure, function, and metabolism of biomolecules. Structure and function of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and important accessory molecules (cofactors and metal ions) are covered, as well as enzyme kinetics and mechanism, thermodynamics, metabolism, and the regulation of metabolism. Three lectures weekly. Prerequisites: CHEM 302, 302L. Every semester.

CHEM 335             BIOCHEMISTRY LABORATORY (3)

An advanced laboratory course that focuses on techniques for the preparation and quantitative analysis of proteins and other biomolecules. Experiments will include preparation of buffers, production and purification of proteins, and analysis of protein structure and function. Two laboratory periods weekly. Prerequisites: CHEM 220, completion of or concurrent registration in CHEM 331. Every semester.

CHEM 355             ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY (3)

A survey of the natural environment from a chemist’s point of view and the evaluation of chemicals from an environmental point of view. This course is concerned with the chemistry of air, water, soil and the biosphere in both pristine and polluted states. Pollution prevention and mitigation schemes are considered. Lab experiments include local fieldwork. Two 3-hour laboratory periods weekly. Prerequisites: CHEM 152,152L. (may not be offered every year)

CHEM 396W         RESEARCH METHODS (3)

Introduction to the principles, methods, and communication of chemical and biochemical research. Lab work includes general and advanced techniques with considerable hands-on use of modern instruments, proper record-keeping, data management, and consideration of laboratory safety. Techniques for searching the chemical literature, peer review and research ethics are included. This course fulfills the upper division writing requirement. Students will write and edit a report in a format suitable for journal publication. One lecture and eight hours of laboratory research weekly. Prerequisite: approval by department chair; may be taken Fall or Spring of Junior year or Fall of Senior year. Every semester.

CHEM 421             ORGANIC/PHYSICAL EXPERIMENTAL
CHEMISTRY (3)

An advanced laboratory course with experiments and projects that integrate principles and methods in analytical, organic, and physical chemistry, with considerable emphasis on instrumental methods. Two laboratory periods weekly. Fall semester. Prerequisites: CHEM 220, 302, 302L, completion of or concurrent registration in CHEM 311.

CHEM 423             INORGANIC/PHYSICAL EXPERIMENTAL CHEMISTRY (3)

An advanced laboratory course which integrates techniques and concepts from inorganic and physical chemistry plus, to a lesser extent, analytical chemistry. A wide variety of classical and modern methods of experimental chemistry, including both wet chemical and instrumental methods, will be used in experiments which show the interrelationships between these three areas of chemistry. Two laboratory periods weekly. Spring semester. Prerequisites: CHEM 220, 302, 302L, 311 and 440.

CHEM 425             INSTRUMENTAL ANALYSIS (3)

A survey of contemporary instrumental methods of chemical analysis, with emphasis on spectroscopic, electrochemical, and separation techniques. The theory, design, and operation of specific instruments will be discussed. Experiments and projects utilizing FTIR, NMR, GC– and LC–MS, HPLC, voltammetry, absorption, emission and fluorescence will be selected. Two laboratory periods weekly. Fall semester. Prerequisites: CHEM 220, 302, 302L, completion of or concurrent registration in CHEM 311.

CHEM 427             BIOPHYSICAL CHEMISTRY LABORATORY (3)

An advanced laboratory course in which spectroscopic techniques are applied to biological problems in order to extract thermodynamic, kinetic and structural information. This information will then be correlated to function of the biomolecule. The techniques to be explored may include UV-Vis, CD, FTIR, NMR, and fluorescence spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, and X-ray diffraction, along with the computational methods necessary for data analysis. The fundamental principles and special considerations of their application to enzymes, proteins, DNA and other biomolecules will be presented in lecture and carried out in the laboratory. Two laboratory periods weekly. Spring semester. Prerequisites: CHEM 220, 302, 302L, completion of or concurrent registration in CHEM 331. CHEM 335 is strongly recommended.

CHEM 440             INORGANIC CHEMISTRY (3)

The principles of inorganic chemistry, such as atomic and molecular structure, bonding, acid-base theory, and crystal field theory, are examined. Utilizing these principles, the chemistry of the elements of the periodic table is discussed, including the kinetics and mechanisms of reactions. The various fields within inorganic chemistry, including solid-state, coordination and organometallic chemistry are introduced. Three lectures weekly. Fall semester. Prerequisites: CHEM 302; completion of or concurrent registration in CHEM 311.

CHEM 489             MAJOR FIELD TEST IN CHEMISTRY (0)

As a part of the department’s assessment program, each graduating senior is required to take the major field test in chemistry. A student who fails to take the major field test may be restricted from graduating. Every year.

CHEM 494             SPECIAL TOPICS IN CHEMISTRY/BIOCHEMISTRY (3-4)

Rotating in-depth courses focused on various chemical and biochemical topics based primarily on the expertise of faculty. May be repeated for credit when the topic changes. Prerequisite: varied (at least yearly).

CHEM 496             UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH (1-3)

Collaborative student-faculty research in the research laboratory of a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The course is taught on a pass/fail basis only. Prerequisite: Approval by department chair.

CHEM 496H          HONORS UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH (1-3)

Collaborative student-faculty research in the research laboratory of a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The course is taught on a pass/fail basis only. Prerequisite: Approval by department chair, membership in the Honors Program.