Featured Major: Chemistry

The CBU Chemistry Department offers a four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and a degree in Biochemistry that we featured in our September 2012 newsletter. Four paradigm options are available with the chemistry degree: a traditional paradigm designed for students interested in graduate school or working in a chemistry lab, a paradigm designed for pre-med students, a paradigm for pre-pharmacy students, and a paradigm for pre-forensic science students. The biochemistry degree is designed to provide a strong preparation for both the workplace and professional schools, including pharmacy school, medical school, or dental school. The program places emphasis on development of a wide range of laboratory skills that are needed in today’s biomedical laboratories, whether they are found in industry or academia.

The Department also offers, in conjunction with the Department of Education, a four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Science with teaching licensure in chemistry or chemistry and biology for grades 7 through 12.

The Chemistry program provides students with an understanding of chemical principles in the areas of analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. Students gain laboratory skills and the ability to select and utilize appropriate instrumentation to investigate and solve specified problems.

Biochemistry Lab

Students in the Biochemistry Lab are shown performing a column chromatography experiment.

One of the main aspects of our chemistry program that contributes to its success is the number and quality of the labs that support the lectures. Labs are a place where students get to know the subject by working with the subject and working closely with the chemistry faculty. The CBU lab instructors are usually the same professors that teach the lecture component of the course. The Chemistry Department regularly offers 17 different courses and 13 of those 17 have labs attached. The labs have excellent equipment thanks to some large grants from the Assisi Foundation as well as others. The department has a web page showing and explaining their major instruments.

Chemistry is very much a three dimensional subject, and the imaging capability of computers has greatly enhanced our ability to visualize in three dimensions. The Chemistry Department has recognized the importance of this kind of tool, and with the help of donors has obtained software to help with this visualization.

Chemistry Lab Assistant

The picture above shows Riley Pace, Chemistry student worker.

The Chemistry Department has adopted a philosophy that the best way to learn to do chemistry is to do it in real world settings. In addition to the research requirement in the department, we offer a variety of opportunities through either work-study or direct employment in the department for students to begin working in the laboratories throughout their entire course of study with us. Students begin as Laboratory Assistants; juniors and seniors have the opportunity to be selected as Laboratory Specialists. Two students who have been in our work-study program for at least two years have the opportunity to be selected each year as Associate Lab Coordinators. The Laboratory Specialist and Associate Lab Coordinator positions include supervisory responsibilities, giving students the opportunity to gain valuable leadership experience.  Riley Pace and Yusef Akbik are the department’s second and third Associate Lab Coordinators.    Duy Nguyen has been named the department’s fourth Laboratory Specialist.

SMACS officers

The picture above shows 6 of the 2012-2013 SMACS Officers. Pictured from left to right are Krystyna Clark (Treasurer), Russell Higgins (Senator), Yusef Akbik (President), Esha Thakore (Secretary), Tiffany Corkran (Chemistry Olympiad Chair), and Anna Birg (Vice-President). Not pictured are Robert Banks (National Chemistry Week Chair), Brent Holmes (Social Chair), and Alvin Siow (Photographer/Historian).

The CBU chapter of the Student Members of the American Chemical Society, SMACS, has continued its high level of activity during the past year. The CBU SMACS chemistry club won two more national awards from the American Chemical Society in 2012.  The first award was the Honorable Mention Award for their 2011-2012 Program and Activities.  The second award was a 2011-2012 Green Chemistry Chapter Award from the American Chemistry Society Green Chemistry Institute.   The club is one of the sponsors of the Shelby County Science and Engineering Fair. Members of the club serve important roles in the Fair handling registration, judging middle school projects, helping with general set-up, and serving as courtesy guides. The CBU chapter of SMACS is co-host for the Greater Shelby County High School Chemistry Olympiad and Local High School Chemistry Competitions which are sponsored by the American Chemical Society. The club participates in a wide range of additional service activities including chemical demonstrations for middle school and high school students, participation in the Science Olympiad, participation in activities that promote environmental awareness, and presenting demos for National Chemistry Week, and Science and Engineering Day.

SMACS meeting

The picture above was taken at the second SMACS meeting in 2013.

The Chemistry Department serves not only its own majors, but many others including other science and engineering majors. For the electrical, mechanical and civil engineers, the department has developed a one semester chemistry course with lab, Chem 115, that is more solid state than the traditional wet chemistry necessary for biology, chemistry, and chemical engineering students.

The results of a CBU chemistry degree, and with any of the CBU science degrees, is quite impressive. See our statistics for the past five years for acceptance into medical, pharmacy, and other health professional schools. The department is also successful in getting is graduates into graduate programs and directly into the workforce.