Chair: Timothy Machonkin
Frank M. Dunnivant
Nathan Boland
Allison Calhoun
Marion Götz
Machelle Hartman
Marcus Juhasz
Dalia Rokhsana
Deberah M. Simon

Chemistry Department Website »

Chemistry courses deal with the nature and composition of matter and the laws that govern chemical reactions. These courses are offered to meet the needs of three groups of students: those who choose to make chemistry or chemical engineering their profession; those who require a certain amount of chemistry as an adjunct to some related vocation; and those who desire a knowledge of chemistry as part of a general education.

Students expecting to major in any of the basic sciences should take either (1) Chemistry 125, 126 and the associated laboratories, Chemistry 135, 136 or (2) the more accelerated Chemistry 140. These courses offer an introductory survey of all fields of chemistry (inorganic, analytical, organic, physical, and biochemistry). An extended study of chemistry for the nonmajor may be obtained by taking Chemistry 245, 246, 345, 388, or BBMB 325. Premedical students should note that most medical schools require for entrance a full year of organic chemistry lecture and two credits of organic laboratory.

There are two ways to fulfill first-year general chemistry requirements. One is by taking the yearlong General Chemistry series of courses (Chemistry 125, 126, 135, 136). An accelerated option is to take a semester of Advanced General Chemistry (140 and 140 lab). Students with an AP score of 4 or 5 do not have to take 125 but should take 135 in the fall. Students with an AP score of 5 may take 140 and 140 lab and receive almost a full year of general chemistry credit (three credits for their AP score, three credits for the 140 lecture, and one credit for the 140 lab). Note: AP credit does not include credit for the Chemistry 135 lab.

The department also offers two one-semester courses in chemistry (Chemistry 100 and 102) for the student wishing a general knowledge of the field to fulfill breadth of study requirements.

The department is well-equipped with instrumentation for chemical analysis. A “hands on” policy allows extensive use of the instruments, beginning in the first year with experiments involving pH meters, analytical balances, and visible spectrophotometers. In advanced courses, students are introduced to atomic absorption, infrared and fluorescence spectroscopies, nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry, ultraviolet spectrophotometry, mass spectrometry, capillary electrophoresis, gas chromatography, high-performance liquid chromatography, and electrochemistry. The aim is to give practical experience with modern chemical instrumentation so that students can learn not only what an instrument does but also how it works. In advanced courses, students will use various computer software packages for data analysis and presentation, and for laboratory report writing.

A student who enters Whitman without any previous college-level chemistry courses will need to complete 36 chemistry credits to fulfill the requirements for the major. Additional credits are required in other departments. These are listed below with the requirements for the chemistry major.

Distribution: Courses completed in chemistry apply to the science and quantitative analysis (selected courses) distribution areas.

Learning Goals: Upon graduation, a student will be able to:

  • Major-Specific Areas of Knowledge
    • Meet nationally set standards in analytical, organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry. Visualize three-dimensional molecular structure and thus derive an understanding of function in chemical systems.
  • Accessing Academic Community/Resources
    • Navigate the current scientific literature to develop foundational knowledge in areas of interest.
  • Communication
    • Communicate scientific findings and information in graphical, written and oral format.
  • Critical Thinking
    • Apply critical thinking and scientific logic to classify and interpret data. Use creative approaches to devise novel solutions to complex chemical problems. Apply theoretical understandings to real-world problems.
  • Quantitative Skills
    • Use appropriate mathematical, computational, and analytical techniques to solve chemical problems.
  • Research Experience
    • Safely manipulate the standard tools and equipment in a chemistry laboratory. Work effectively both as an individual learner and as a member of a group. Work in a safe and appropriate manner.

The Chemistry major: A minimum of 36 credits in chemistry, including:
Either Chemistry 125, 126, 135, 136, or Chemistry 140; and Chemistry 240, 245, 246, 251, 252, 320, 345, 346, 360, 370, and at least three credits of Chemistry 490 or 498. A minimum grade of C (2.0) is required in either Chemistry 240 or Chemistry 345, whichever is taken first. Students contemplating a major in chemistry are encouraged to take Chemistry 240 in their sophomore year.

The following nonchemistry courses also are required: Mathematics 125, 126, and 225; and either Physics 155 and 156 or Physics 165 and 166, or one year of college-level physics for science majors with lab taken elsewhere. Students who wish to complete the American Chemical Society certified chemistry major also must complete BBMB 325 (note that Biology 111 is a prerequisite). Students who plan to pursue graduate work in chemistry are recommended to obtain additional coursework in mathematics, which may include Mathematics 240, 244, or 367, or possibly in biology, and should consult with their adviser.

Subsequent to the declaration of a chemistry major or minor, no chemistry courses within the major or minor may be taken on a P-D-F basis.

Senior Assessment in Major: The successful completion of a chemistry degree requires the student to pass both a comprehensive written examination and a one-hour oral examination.

The Chemistry minor: A minimum of 19 credits in chemistry, involving either of the following sequences: (1) 125, 126, 135, 136, 245, 246, 251, 252; at least one of the following: 240, 345, 388, BBMB 325; or (2) 140, 245, 246, 251, 252; at least two of the following: 240, 345, 346, 388, BBMB 325. Any 300-400 chemistry course may be substituted for 300-level credit. Note: Chemistry 401 and 402 cannot be applied to the minor.

The Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology (BBMB) major: See BBMB under the Courses and Programs section in the catalog for a description of the courses and major offered at the interface of biology, chemistry, and physics.

The Chemistry-Geology combined major: Either Chemistry 125, 126, 135, 136 (or 140), 240, 346, 320 (or 388); either Geology 110, 120, or 210 and 227, 343, 346, 350, 460, 470, a minimum of one credit in 358; Mathematics 125, 126, Physics 155. Chemistry 320 or 420 is recommended. Seniors completing the chemistry-geology major will complete a written exam constructed by the geology faculty, a written exam constructed by the chemistry faculty, and an oral exam conducted jointly by faculty in both departments. Additionally, all students are strongly encouraged to complete a senior research project under the guidance of a faculty member in either of the two disciplines, registering for a minimum of three credits in either Chemistry 490 or 498 or Geology 490 or 498.

The Chemistry-Environmental Studies combined major: The requirements are fully described in the Environmental Studies section of the catalog.

100 Introduction to Environmental Chemistry and Science
x, 3 Dunnivant

The goal of this course is to prepare students to be environmentally responsible citizens and empower them with scientific knowledge to make the right decisions concerning the environment. Chemistry 100 is a one-semester introduction to important topics in the environmental sciences. Emphasis will be placed on historic environmental success and what major problems remain to be solved. Topics will include the availability of clean water, effective wastewater treatment, restoration of the stratospheric ozone layer, the removal of anthropogenic produced lead, past and current endocrine disruptors, the proper use of risk assessment, appropriate actions to combat human-caused global warming, and an effective environmental legal national and international framework. Emphasis will be placed on the chemistry of each topic. No chemistry background is presumed. Highly recommended for environmental studies students not majoring in a natural science. Students may not receive credit for Chemistry 100 if they have taken Chemistry 125 or a more advanced college chemistry course. Working knowledge of college-level algebra is required. Three lectures per week; no lab.

102 Chemistry in Art
x, 4 Simon

This course, for nonscience majors, will cover the principles of chemistry within the context of the production, analysis, and conservation of art. The influence of science and technology on art will be explored through such topics as color theory; the chemistry of pigments, dyes, binders, papers, inks, and glazes; forensic analysis of forgeries; conservation of works of art; and photography. Possible laboratory topics include pigments, etching, papermaking, textile dyeing, ceramics, electroplating, jewelry making, alternative photographic methods, and fused glass. No artistic skill or chemistry background is presumed. Students may not receive credit for Chemistry 102 if they have completed any other college-level chemistry course. Three lectures and one three-hour laboratory per week. Corequisite: Chemistry 102L (laboratory). The course may not be taken without the laboratory. Fee: $30.

125 General Chemistry
3, x Staff

The first semester of a yearlong course in introductory chemistry. Topics include atomic and molecular structure; periodic properties of the elements; chemical bonding; properties of gases, liquids, and solids; stoichiometry; aqueous solution reactions; and perhaps an introduction to organic chemistry and biochemistry. Problem-solving involves the use of algebra. Three lectures per week. Prerequisite: two years of high school mathematics or consent of instructor. Corequisite: Chemistry 135.

126 General Chemistry
x, 3 Staff

The second semester of a yearlong course in introductory chemistry. Topics include properties of solutions, elementary thermodynamics, introduction to chemical equilibrium, kinetics, oxidation-reduction and electrochemistry, acids and bases, environmental issues, and nuclear chemistry. Problem-solving in this course involves the use of logarithms and algebra including the quadratic formula. Three lectures per week. Prerequisite: Chemistry 125. Corequisite: Chemistry 136. Note: the corequisite of Chemistry 136 is not required for Geology or Geology-Environmental Studies majors.

135 General Chemistry Lab I
1, x Hartman, Simon

Laboratory exercises in physical and chemical properties of matter, with an introduction to both qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis. Topics include gravimetric and volumetric analysis, molecular structure, chemical synthesis, acid-base chemistry, properties and reactions of various groups of elements, and thermochemistry. One three-hour laboratory per week. Corequisite: Chemistry 125. Fee: $35.

136 General Chemistry Lab II
x, 1 Staff

A continuation of Chemistry 135 with emphasis on descriptive chemistry and discovery-based experiments. Topics include analysis, kinetics, synthesis, and an introduction to spectrophotometric methods of analysis. One three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Chemistry 135; Corequisite: Chemistry 126. Lab fee: maximum $15.

140 Advanced General Chemistry I
4, x Calhoun

A one-semester accelerated course in introductory chemistry designed for students with a strong high school background in chemistry. Topics similar to those in Chemistry 125 and 126 will be covered at a faster rate and a deeper level. Laboratory exercises emphasize the concepts and methods developed in lecture and will involve experiments similar to, but not necessarily identical with, those covered in Chemistry 135 and 136. Problem-solving involves the use of algebra. Three lectures and one three- to four-hour laboratory per week. Enrollment is limited to 46 students. Chemistry 140 is equivalent to the sequence of Chemistry 125, 126, 135, and 136. Prerequisites: two years of high school mathematics, one year of high school chemistry (two recommended), and a passing score on a qualifying exam given on campus immediately prior to first semester registration. Fee: $30.

240 Quantitative Analysis and Chemical Equilibrium
4, x Boland

The principles of chemical equilibrium and methods of quantitative analysis. Topics include statistical analysis of data, activities, and the systematic treatment of acid-base, precipitation, complexation, and oxidation-reduction equilibria. Laboratory exercises involve the exploration and elucidation of the concepts and methods developed in lecture, and include gravimetric, titrimetric, and colorimetric analyses, with an introduction to selected instrumental methods of analysis and instruction in and use of electronic spreadsheets for data analysis and graphing. Three lectures and two three- to four-hour laboratories per week. Prerequisites: Chemistry 126 and 136 or 140. Lab fee: maximum $20.

245 Organic Chemistry I
3, 3 Staff

The first semester of a yearlong course in organic chemistry. Topics include reaction mechanism, nomenclature, stereochemistry, spectroscopy, and the synthesis and reactions of alkyl halides, alkenes, alcohols, ethers, and alkynes. Three lectures per week. Prerequisite: Chemistry 126 or 140.

246 Organic Chemistry II
3, 3 Juhasz

A continuation of Chemistry 245. Topics include spectroscopy, aromatic chemistry, carbonyl compounds, and biomolecules such as carbohydrates and amino acids. Three lectures per week. Prerequisite: Chemistry 245.

251 Organic Laboratory Techniques I
1, 1 Staff

Introduction to fundamental organic laboratory techniques. Topics include recrystallization, distillation, melting point determination, chromatography, extraction, and one-step syntheses. One three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Chemistry 126 or 140. Pre- or corequisite: Chemistry 245. Lab fee: maximum $20.

252 Organic Laboratory Techniques II
1, 1 Fall: Rokhsana; Spring: Juhasz, Machonkin

Continuation of organic laboratory techniques involving intermediate exercises. The course covers more challenging syntheses as compared to Chemistry 251, as well as multistep synthesis and spectroscopic analysis of products. One three-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Chemistry 251. Pre- or corequisite: Chemistry 246. Lab fee: maximum $20.

315 Marine and Freshwater Chemistry
x, 3 Calhoun

Marine and freshwater environments make up 71 percent of the earth’s surface. The chemistry that governs these environments is complicated by a wide array of physical, geological, and biological processes. This course will utilize interdisciplinary case studies to describe the chemical processes in both marine and freshwater systems in light of the physical, biological, and geological influences that govern their behavior. The case studies include bioprecipitation of carbonate and sulfate structures in shallow and deep water marine environments, bioprecipitation of carbonate structures in freshwater environments, marine oxidation/reduction processes, the role of agitation and biotic interactions in gas exchange processes, abiotic precipitation in marine and freshwater environments—kinetic versus thermodynamic controls, surface mediated processes with and without biological intermediaries, and light utilization in marine and freshwater environments. Prerequisites: Chemistry 125 and 126, 135 and 136, or 140 with laboratory; Chemistry 245 and 246; one class in either Geology, Biology, or Physics at the 100 or 200 level; and Mathematics 126.

320 Instrumental Methods of Analysis
4, x Dunnivant

This course deals with sample preparation, data analysis, method development, and the theory of operation of modern laboratory instrumentation. Instrumental techniques discussed in lecture and used in the laboratory will include flame atomic absorption spectroscopy, capillary electrophoresis, inductively coupled plasma spectrometry, basic mass spectrometry, scanning electron microscopy with elemental detection, and ion, high pressure, and gas chromatography. Laboratory exercises will concentrate on real world applications of chemical analysis. One Friday afternoon field trip may be required. Three lectures and one three- to four-hour laboratory per week are required. Prerequisites: Chemistry 240, 251 and 252. Pre- or corequisite: Chemistry 345. Lab fee: maximum $20.

345 Physical Chemistry I: Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy
4, x Calhoun

This course is the first of a two-semester sequence exploring the fundamental behavior of chemical systems in terms of the physical principles which govern this behavior. The specific focus is on the quantum behavior of matter as it pertains to atomic energies, bonding, reactivity, spectroscopy, and spectrometry. In this course, we also will review and learn applied mathematical techniques, perform mathematical modeling exercises, and spectroscopic and spectrometric analyses of representative systems to provide concrete examples and applications of the material in the lecture portion of the class. Meets four hours per week. Prerequisites: Chemistry 126 or 140, Physics 156 or 166 or one year of introductory physics for science majors, and Mathematics 126 or equivalent. Mathematics 225 is recommended.

346 Physical Chemistry II: Statistical Thermodynamics, Classical Thermodynamics and Kinetics
x, 4 Calhoun

This course is the second of a two-semester sequence exploring the fundamental behavior of chemical systems in terms of the physical principles which govern this behavior. The specific focus is on the statistical description of matter and applications of this statistical analysis to classical thermodynamic principles. Furthermore, we will investigate the kinetic behavior of chemical reactions from a mechanistic and statistical perspective. In this course we will review and learn applied mathematical techniques, perform mathematical modeling exercises, and engage in literature review work which will provide concrete examples and applications of the material in the lecture portion of the class. Meets four hours per week. Prerequisites: Chemistry 126 or 140, Physics 156 or 166 or one year of introductory physics for science majors, and Mathematics 126 or equivalent. Mathematics 225 is recommended. Chemistry 345 strongly recommended.

360 Inorganic Chemistry
x, 3 Machonkin

This course will explore the fundamentals of chemical bonding, both in main group compounds and transition metal complexes. The first half of the course will begin with atomic theory, then move to molecular orbital theory for diatomic molecules, group theory, and molecular orbital theory for polyatomic molecules. The second half, the course will cover the bonding, spectroscopy, and reactivity of transition metal complexes. Three lectures per week. Prerequisite: Chemistry 345.

370 Advanced Methods in Inorganic and Organic Synthesis and Characterization
2, 2 Fall: Machonkin; Spring: Rokhsana

This is an advanced laboratory course that combines both organic and inorganic synthesis with physical methods of characterization. A large portion of this course is an independent project chosen and developed by students within a specific theme. Two three- to four-hour laboratories per week. Prerequisites: Chemistry 246, 252, and 345. Prerequisite (recommended) or corequisite: Chemistry 360. Lab fee: maximum $20.

388 Environmental Chemistry and Engineering
4; not offered 2014-15

This course will examine (1) the basic chemistry associated with pollutant fate and transport modeling in environmental media, especially acid-base, oxidation/reduction, solubility, speciation, and sorption reactions, (2) basic physical concepts for modeling the fate and transport of pollutants in environmental media, and (3) pollutant risk assessment based on humans as receptors. Additional topics might include major U.S. environmental laws, global environmental issues (e.g., global warming and stratospheric ozone depletion), and selected scientific articles. The laboratory portion will concentrate on pollutant monitoring and chemical aspects of pollutants, measuring dispersion and pollutant transport in small-scale systems, and data analysis. Three lectures, one three- to four-hour laboratory per week, and one weekend field monitoring trip to the Johnston Wilderness Campus. Prerequisites: a good working knowledge of basic algebra (rearrangement of complicated equations and use of exponential functions); Chemistry 126 or 140; Chemistry 251 and 252 or consent of instructor. Offered in alternate years. There is a mandatory overnight field trip at the end of the semester. Lab fee: maximum $20.

390 Student Research
1-3, 1-3 Staff

This course will give students who have not yet reached senior status an opportunity to participate in research with faculty in the chemistry department. The research will involve laboratory work on original projects under the supervision of a member of the chemistry department. The student must select a supervising faculty member and project before registering for the course. May be repeated for a maximum of six credits. Prerequisites: Chemistry 125,126, 135, 136; or Chemistry 140; and consent of instructor.

401, 402 Chemistry Seminar
1, 1 Juhasz

This course will consist primarily of research presentations by scientists from colleges, universities, government labs, and industry. Presentations will span a range of areas of chemistry (organic, inorganic, physical, analytical, biological) and related disciplines (such as structural biology, materials science, and environmental science). Students will learn to engage with scientific literature by reading primary literature articles authored by the presenters, writing response papers, participating in follow-up discussion with the presenters during the seminar. There will be periodic workshops on critical reading, critical writing and ethics in science. Evaluation is based on attendance, response papers, and participation in the question-and-answer portion of the seminars and in the workshops. Enrollment is limited to juniors and seniors. May be repeated for a maximum of four credits. Note: May not be applied to the Chemistry minor.

411 The Organic Chemistry of Drug Design
3; not offered 2014-15

This course focuses on the design of drugs, with an emphasis on how their chemical synthesis and mode of action establishes an interface between organic chemistry and pharmaceutical chemistry. The challenges associated with drug discovery faced by the pharmaceutical industry will be illustrated through several case studies, and metabolic modifications of medicinal agents that lead to excretion from the body will be examined. Prerequisites: Chemistry 246; Biology 111 or 112 is strongly recommended.

420 Advanced Analytical Instrumentation
1; not offered 2014-15

This project-based course will focus on expanding students’ knowledge of modern instrumentation based on their field of study. Students will choose from a variety of instrumentation including UV-Vis spectroscopy, atomic absorption and emission spectroscopy, ion chromatography, liquid chromatography, gas chromatography, and mass spectrometry. Prerequisites: Chemistry 140, or 126 and 136, and consent of instructor. Additional prerequisites for chemistry majors: Chemistry 320.

425 Computational Biochemistry
3; not offered 2014-15

The goal of this course is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the molecular principles necessary to understand the structures and functions of different chemical and biochemical systems using empirical and quantum-mechanical computational techniques. It will allow students to develop and graphically visualize the electronic wave function and its various properties of these systems and validate their findings through experimental data. Laboratory exercises will equip students with various computational tools to study different chemical and biochemical systems. The planned exercises are expected to improve the students' ability to generate chemical models as well as use them in quantitative analyses in further chemistry studies. Prerequisite: Chemistry 246.

432 Capillary Electrophoresis
3, x Boland

From proteomics to pharmaceutical analysis to environmental speciation, capillary electrophoresis separation techniques are increasingly relevant. In this course, students will be introduced to the fundamentals of electrochemistry and fluid dynamics that apply to these techniques. The course will introduce students to an array of techniques, including capillary zone electrophoresis, capillary electrochromatography, and micellular electrokinetic chromatography, through discussion of the primary literature and hands-on laboratory activities culminating with students designing, fabricating and testing their own lab-on-a-chip device. Prerequisite: BBMB 335 or Chemistry 240.

447 Physical Organic Chemistry
3, x Juhasz

This course will address the quantitative and qualitative study of organic molecules and reactions. Topics to be addressed include thermodynamics, molecular orbital theory, stereochemistry, aromaticity, pericyclic reactions, and reaction mechanisms. The experimental and theoretical methods for elucidating organic reactions will be a major theme of this course. A survey of techniques for studying carbocations will explore methods developed for studying elusive reaction intermediates. Student-led discussion and presentations of readings from the primary chemical literature will be a significant component of this course. Prerequisite: Chemistry 246.

451, 452 Independent Study
1-3, 1-3 Staff

An advanced laboratory project or a directed reading project selected by the student in consultation with the staff and supervised by the staff member best qualified for the area of study. For a laboratory project, a written report reflecting the library and laboratory work carried out is required. The student must select a supervising staff member and obtain approval for a project prior to registration. If any part of the project involves off-campus work, the student must consult with the department chair for approval before beginning the project. Each credit of independent study laboratory work corresponds to one afternoon of work per week. A maximum of three credits may be counted toward degree requirements. Prerequisites: two years of college chemistry and consent of instructor.

460 Bioinorganic Chemistry
x, 3 Machonkin

This course will examine the role of trace metal ions in biological systems. Metal ions such as iron, copper, and zinc are essential for life and are required for the function of about one-third of all known enzymes. However, the inherent toxicity of these metals has led to the evolution of cellular machinery to control the uptake, transport, storage, and distribution of trace metals in organisms. This toxicity also has been exploited in the development of several metal-based drugs. The challenges of understanding the roles of trace metals in biological systems have led to the development of novel techniques for their study. The course will survey a selection of these methods, and will examine case studies of metal-containing enzymes, metal ion trafficking, and metal-based drugs. A major portion of this course will be student-led literature reviews, presentations, and discussion of these topics. Prerequisite: Chemistry 360 or BBMB 325 or consent of instructor.

481, 482 Advanced Topics in Chemistry

A detailed study of specialized subjects such as organic qualitative analysis, conformational analysis, natural products, quantum chemistry, chemical kinetics, protein structure and function, physical biochemistry, and spectroscopy. Prerequisite: two years of college chemistry. Any current offerings follow.

490 Research
1-3, 1-3 Staff

Two consecutive semesters, or a summer and a subsequent semester, of work on projects of current interest to the staff. The research may involve laboratory work on original projects, reports based on library searches, development of instructional laboratory exercises, etc. The student must select a supervising faculty member and obtain approval for a project prior to registration for the first semester of the two-semester sequence, or prior to registration for the fall semester if the project will commence during the summer. A final written report, and a seminar on the project will be required. May be repeated for a maximum of six credits. Prerequisites: two years of college chemistry and consent of instructor.

498 Honors Thesis
2-3, 2-3 Staff

Senior students who have applied for and been granted honors candidacy will register for Chemistry 498 in their final semester. Chemistry majors will register for 3 credits of Chemistry 498, Chemistry-Environmental Studies majors will register for 2 credits of Chemistry 498 plus 1 credit of Environmental Studies 498, and Chemistry-Geology majors will register for 3 credits of either Chemistry 498 or Geology 498. Students must have completed at least 1 credit of Chemistry 490 in the previous semester, and may not simultaneously earn credit for Chemistry 490 and 498. Students must complete an honors thesis and submit this to the Library by no later than reading day. Requirements for the honors thesis are provided on the Library website. Students should consult with their research advisor for additional requirements and advice on preparation of the thesis. In all other respects, the course description and requirements are the same as for Chemistry 490, including the seminar presentation. Prerequisite: admission to honors candidacy.