Chemistry

Kevin J. Quinn, Ph.D., Professor and Chair

The Department of Chemistry is among the nation’s top producers of chemistry graduates and a top baccalaureate origin for Ph.D.s in chemistry. The chemistry curriculum provides students with a solid background in fundamental principles and theories of chemistry with hands-on experience using state-of-the-art laboratory equipment. Students gain experience and knowledge in all of the major areas of modern chemistry including organic, analytical, physical, inorganic, and biochemistry and have an opportunity to focus their program on a particular area through research and elective courses. The overall curricular program is laboratory intensive, beginning with the Discovery Chemistry Core courses in general and organic chemistry. These courses use a guided inquiry approach, in which fundamental concepts are first encountered in the laboratory and subsequent lecture sessions are used to discuss and elaborate on the laboratory experience. Advanced courses build on this foundation, allowing students to develop the skills and gain knowledge needed to become effective scientists and independent researchers. The program develops the verbal and written communication skills of students by emphasizing the importance of clarity in laboratory reports and oral presentations (required of all students who elect to do research).

The department has an active undergraduate research program. Qualified students, working in association with faculty members, may have an opportunity to conduct research in a wide range of chemical fields during the academic year through one or more research courses (CHEM 389, 390, 405/406, 407/408 and 410). Summer research positions with monetary stipends are usually available on a competitive basis. Involvement in a significant research project is strongly recommended for those majors interested in attending graduate school for an advanced degree in chemistry.

Chemistry majors are required to successfully complete nine chemistry courses with six required labs as described below. Chemistry majors also must take the first semester of physics with lab (PHYS 111 or PHYS 115) and Calculus through MATH 134 or 136, normally by the end of the second year.

All chemistry majors must begin with the Discovery Chemistry Core, which includes Atoms and Molecules (CHEM 181), Organic Chemistry 1 (CHEM 221), Organic Chemistry 2 (CHEM 222), and Equilibrium and Reactivity (CHEM 231). Each of these courses includes lab and they are typically taken in the order listed above during the first and second year.  Students in the major normally continue with Instrumental Chemistry and Analytical Methods (CHEM 300) followed by Quantum Mechanics and Spectroscopy (CHEM 335). CHEM 300, which introduces experimental and instrumental methods essential to modern chemistry, is considered a gateway course to the upper level of the curriculum. Each course integrates lecture and lab. Majors complete their chemistry curriculum with two advanced courses, chosen from Biochemistry (CHEM 301 or BIOL 301), Chemical Thermodynamics (CHEM 336), and Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM 351), and with one other non-research CHEM elective at the 300-level.

Advanced Placement Credit: Knowledge and experience gained in high school AP courses provide an excellent background for our Discovery Chemistry Core. Beginning with the class of 2018, students who have received a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Chemistry exam will earn credit for CHEM 181 and can start the Discovery Chemistry sequence with CHEM 221. Students will forfeit their AP credit if they opt to take CHEM 181. Students are invited to contact the department chair to discuss this option.

American Chemical Society (ACS) Certification. Students wishing to receive ACS certification for their degree must complete the four courses in the Discovery Chemistry Core, as well as CHEM 300, CHEM 301 or BIOL 301, CHEM 335, CHEM 336, CHEM 351, and a non-research CHEM elective at the 300-level. Students must also take one lab chosen from either Biochemistry Lab (BIOL 303 or BIOL 304) or Inorganic Chemistry Lab (CHEM 352). Additionally, two semesters of 400-level research along with a comprehensive research report are required. To receive certification, Chemistry Majors must also take two semesters of physics with lab (PHYS 111/112 or PHYS 115/116).

Departmental Honors

To graduate with Department Honors, a student must complete the courses required for ACS certification, obtain a minimum GPA of 3.40 in CHEM courses as reported by the Registrar, take two additional courses (which may include research courses), perform a significant quantity and quality of research as determined by the research advisor (or department chair for off-campus projects), and complete an acceptable honors-level capstone written project based on the research.

Biochemistry Concentration

The Departments of Biology and Chemistry jointly offer a concentration that focuses on the study of the chemistry underlying biological structure and function. Concentrators must be enrolled as either biology or chemistry majors. Participants take BIOL 161 and the Discovery Chemistry Core. Students must also take BIOL 301 or CHEM 301, as well as BIOL 302, 303 and 304, CHEM 336, and one additional biology course with an associated biochemistry-oriented laboratory (only chemistry majors can count BIOL 261 for this course). Students must also complete the usual requirements for their major. Concentrators also complete a two-semester thesis project in their fourth year involving research on some aspect of biochemistry. Admission to the concentration is competitive and occurs in the second semester of the second year.

Teacher Education Program

Students in the Teacher Education Program will meet all chemistry requirements for certification as a secondary or middle school chemistry teacher in Massachusetts (MA Chemistry License), with successful completion of the Chemistry Major plus one course/project in the history and philosophy of science (e.g., PHIL 271). Students should select a course in biochemistry as one of their electives. Formal application to the Teacher Education Program (TEP) and additional education courses are also required for licensure. Since Massachusetts’ teacher certification requirements continue to evolve, students should work closely with the Chemistry department TEP Liaison to make sure all state requirements are met.

Other Programs Involving Chemistry

Students interested in health professions typically begin the Discovery Chemistry Core (CHEM 181, 221, 222, 231) in either the first or second year. Since requirements vary for different programs, students should work with the Health Professions Advisory Committee to ensure that their academic program is appropriate for their preparation.

Students interested in Environmental Studies and/or Geosciences take a number of science courses. The chemistry department regularly offers courses that fulfill requirements in these programs, including CHEM 141, 181, 231, and 300.

Courses

Chemistry Courses

Chemistry
141
Every third year

Investigates the chemistry of the Earth’s environment through systematic studies of our atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere and the exchange and interplay between them. The primary focus of the course will be environmental change taking place today including those that threaten plant and animal habitats and pose hazards to human health. Understanding of our environment and current threats to it will be gained through a combination of readings, lectures, discussions, demonstrations, and problem sets. One unit.

Chemistry
144
Annually

Acquaints non-science majors with chemistry as a human endeavor and helps them acquire some appreciation of the benefits and limitations of science. Readings from the current popular and scientific literature are examined to illustrate the relationships of science to society. Some of the basic concepts and principles of chemistry necessary for an understanding of environmental problems will be considered in detail. One unit.

Chemistry
181
Fall

This introductory general chemistry course leads students to explore in-depth the scientific method through the formulation and testing of hypotheses in the laboratory. Laboratory experiments lead students to discover basic principles, i.e., stoichiometric relationships, electronic configuration and molecular structure. Lectures will explain and expand upon laboratory results. This is first course in the Discovery Chemistry Core sequence for science majors and students interested in health professions. The lecture portion of this course meets four hours per week. One two-hour “discovery” laboratory session per week is included. One and one-half units.

Chemistry
221
Spring

A study of organic compounds organized around functional groups, modern structural theory and reaction mechanisms. The chemistry of aliphatic hydrocarbons, alkenes, alkynes, dienes, alkyl halides, alcohols and ethers is introduced. Substitution, addition and elimination mechanisms are studied in detail. Emphasis is placed on stereochemistry. The lecture portion meets four hours per week. One two-hour “discovery” laboratory session per week is included. Students learn various techniques of separation, purification, and spectroscopic analysis of organic compounds in the laboratory. There is an emphasis on one-step synthetic conversions that introduce the reactions to be studied in the lecture course. Prerequisite: Chemistry 181. (It is recommended that students with a grade below C in Chemistry 181 do not continue with Chemistry 221). One and one-half units.

Chemistry
222
Fall

A continuation of Chemistry 221. Aromatic compounds, alcohols, ethers, aldehydes, ketones, amines, carboxylic acids and their derivatives are studied. Aromatic substitution, acyl transfer and carbonyl condensation reactions are developed. The mechanistic implications and synthetic applications of these organic reactions are evaluated. One four-hour “discovery” laboratory session per week is included. Microscale synthetic techniques and identification (chemical and spectroscopic) of organic compounds are included. Prerequisite: Chemistry 221. (It is recommended that students with a grade of C- or below in Chemistry 221 do not continue in Chemistry 222.) One and one-half units.

Chemistry
231
Spring

Focuses on studying and understanding the role equilibrium, thermodynamics and kinetics play in chemical systems. Specific topics include phase and chemical equilibria, colligative properties of solutions, acid/base equilibria, chemical kinetics, electrochemistry, thermodynamics including enthalpy, entropy and free energy, and gas laws. Laboratory focused, this general chemistry course also introduces students to modern analytical instrumentation while developing critical wet chemical analytical techniques. One four-hour “discovery” laboratory session per week is included. Prerequisites: Chemistry 181 and one semester of college calculus. One and one-half units.

Chemistry
289
Spring

Focuses on the application of the electron pushing formalism for manipulating Lewis structure representations of organic molecules. The course is organized around the four fundamental reaction types (polar, pericyclic, free radical, and transition metal-mediated) with an emphasis on mechanistic rationalization of complex organic transformations. Prerequisite: Chemistry 222. One unit.

Chemistry
300
Annually

The application of instrumentation to chemical research and analysis has had a dramatic impact on the field of chemistry. This course provides an in-depth look inside modern chemical instrumentation, such as molecular UV-Vis, IR, and fluorescence spectroscopy, atomic absorption and emission spectroscopy, electrochemistry, gas and liquid chromatography, and mass spectrometry. One four-hour laboratory session per week is included. Laboratory work provides hands-on experience with instrumental design, quantitative analytical methods, and experimental method development. Prerequisite: Chemistry 231; Prerequisites or co-requisites: Chemistry 222 and Physics 111 or Physics 115. One and one-half units.

Chemistry
301
Fall

A detailed study of the chemistry of biological molecules, with a focus on the structure of biological macromolecules and the chemical mechanism of biochemical transformations. Topics may include the structure and synthesis of proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates and lipids, enzymatic catalysis, biological thermodynamics, glycolysis and gluconeogenesis, the citric acid cycle, fatty acid oxidation, oxidative phosphorylation, and metabolic regulation. A strong background in thermodynamics and organic chemistry is highly recommended. This course may serve as a prerequisite for Biology 302. Students may not count both Biology 301 and Chemistry 301 for credit. Prerequisites: Chemistry 222 and 231. One unit.

Chemistry
304
Every third year

Covers a selection of modern synthetic methods and reagents used in organic chemistry. Topics presented include oxidation/reduction, organometallic reactions, functional group interconversions, protecting group strategies, enolate additions and pericyclic reactions with a focus on asymmetric synthesis. The course will build upon the individual methods discussed to ultimately demonstrate their combined use in the synthesis of complex organic molecules. Prerequisite: Chemistry 289. One unit.

Chemistry
305
Every third year

There are critical and, at times, subtle factors that influence organic reactions. These factors will be illustrated through specific case studies. The case studies will demonstrate how experimental data is used to develop mechanistic knowledge about a reaction. The course will aim to develop skills for thinking critically and logically about the mechanism of organic reactions. Prerequisite: Chemistry 289. One unit.

Chemistry
309
Every third year

This course focuses on chemical structure identification through the interpretation of spectroscopic data with a concentration on organic molecules, Mass, Vibrational (IR and Raman), and Magnetic Resonance (NMR and EPR) spectra are analyzed. There is an emphasis on NMR spectroscopy (including an introduction to modern multipulse techniques)  to elucidate molecular structure. The course is conducted with a problem-solving approach and student participation is expected. Prerequisite: Chemistry 222. One unit.

Chemistry
317
Every third year

Introduces students to nanometer scale material and devices. Materials in this size regime often possess unusual properties that have application in molecular electronics, medical diagnostics and devices, molecular motors, and self-assembly and surface chemistry. Students will read a variety of books and scientific articles from peer reviewed journals. Nanotechnology is a multidisciplinary field of study where projects often require collaborations between chemists, physicists, biologists and engineers. Students other than chemistry majors who have completed the prerequisites are encouraged to enroll to broaden both their own perspective and that of the class. Prerequisites: Chemistry 222 and 231. One unit.

Chemistry
322
Every third year

This course will focus on various applications found in the field of analytical chemistry. This course will build on instrumentation learned in Chemistry 300, and go beyond the instruments used in typical labs. Primary literature will guide our discussion of various techniques and applications. Understanding of the details of these advanced instrumental techniques and applications will be gained through a combination of reading, lectures, discussions, and an independent lab experience. This course will meet two days per week. Some weeks (about six during the semester), a 3 hour lab will be held. Prerequisite: Chemistry 300. One unit.

Chemistry
335
Annually

The course is a study of the basic concepts, principles and methods of modern physical chemistry. Physical chemistry asks “how?” and/or “why?” things happen as they do. Here, the emphasis will be on developing a deeper understanding of the microscopic properties that govern chemical phenomena. The topics covered may include quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, spectroscopy, group theory, and computational chemistry. One four-hour laboratory session per week is included. In the lab you will learn techniques and analyses related to physical chemistry and will develop your scientific writing skills. Prerequisites:  Chemistry 231 and Mathematics 134 or 136 or 241; Prerequisites or co-requisites: Chemistry 222 and Physics 111 or Physics 115. One and one-half units.

Chemistry
336
Annually

This course is a study of the basic concepts, principles and methods of classical physical chemistry. Physical chemistry asks “how?” and/or “why?” things happen as they do. Here, the emphasis will be on developing a deeper understanding of the macroscopic properties that govern chemical phenomena. The topics covered may include thermodynamics, chemical and phase equilibria, kinetics, reaction dynamics, complex solution behavior and surface thermodynamics. Prerequisites: Chemistry 231 and Mathematics 134 or 136 or 241;  Prerequisites or co-requisites:  Chemistry 222 and Physics 111 or 115. One unit.

Chemistry
351
Spring

Group theory and modern theories of bonding are used to discuss structural and dynamic features of inorganic compounds. The structure and bonding of transition metal coordination compounds are related to various reaction mechanisms. The principal structural and mechanistic features of transition metal organometallic chemistry are studied with emphasis on catalysis of organic reactions.The role of inorganic chemistry in biological systems is also explored. Prerequisites: Chemistry 222 and 231. One unit.

Chemistry
352
Spring

This advanced laboratory course is designed to introduce students to the synthetic and characterization methods of modern inorganic chemistry. Students synthesize and purify compounds by a variety of techniques. Compounds are characterized using modern instrumentation. The course emphasizes synthetic techniques and analysis of compounds using various spectroscopic techniques; learning is reinforced by report writing. Prerequisite or co-requisite: Chemistry 351. One-quarter unit.

Chemistry
361
Every third year

This course aims to develop an understanding of the chemical interactions that govern the structure and function of biological molecules. A thorough discussion of the spectroscopic techniques used in modern research for analyzing such molecules will be incorporated. In addition, the course covers topics in protein folding and mis-folding (as associated with disease), focusing in particular on the thermodynamic and kinetic processes involved. Time will be spent reading and discussing primary literature with an emphasis on interpreting the results obtained by others. Prerequisite or co-requisite: Chemistry 300. One unit.

Chemistry
371
Every third year

Molecular Pharmacology is an upper-level exploration of the molecular basis of drug action.  This course will build upon the fundamentals of organic structure and reactivity to investigate the sources of pharmacological agents and their interactions with biological macromolecules that are relevant to disease.  Subjects will include the fundamentals of drug action and development, protein and DNA structure, the chemical transformations involved in drug metabolism and advances in drug delivery.  Specific major topics include antibiotics, HIV and cancer. The class will focus primarily on the original literature with each participant actively engaging in frequent presentations on chosen or assigned topics. Prerequisites: Chemistry 231 and 289. One unit.

Chemistry
381
Every third year

This course is organized around the important biological proteins, enzymes and other biological systems that utilize metal ions. An important goal is to explain their functional/positional importance based on the chemistry at the metal center(s). Topics include bioinorganic systems such as photosynthesis, hemoglobin/myoglobin and other iron proteins, copper proteins, and the biochemistry of zinc. Current research efforts in the field are discussed to demonstrate the dynamic nature of the subject. Prerequisite or co-requisite:  Chemistry 351. One unit.

Chemistry
389
Fall, spring

Involves a commitment to join a research group. Specific activities will be established with the individual research advisor but may include: attendance of group meetings, working on a lab or computer project with other group members, and/or reading/discussing literature related to group research. The course is by permission only. It is taken as an overload and receives no grade. It may be taken more than once. Interested students are invited to apply early in the fall or spring of the second, third or fourth year. The candidate’s academic record will be reviewed to determine if the student could reasonably benefit from such a program. Prerequisite: Chemistry 221 or 231. No units.

Chemistry
390
Fall, spring

Involves an original and individual experimental investigation with associated literature study in one of the fields of chemistry under the supervision of a member of the faculty.The culmination of all research projects will be a report. The course is by permission only. Interested students are invited to apply before the registration period in the spring of the second or third year or the fall of the third or fourth year. The candidate’s academic record will be reviewed to determine if the student could reasonably benefit form such a program. This course does not count toward the minimum number of chemistry courses required of the major. Prerequisites: Chemistry 222 and 231 or prior research experience at Holy Cross. One unit.

Chemistry
405, 406
Fall, spring

Involves an original and individual experimental and/or computational investigation with associated literature study in one of the fields of chemistry under the supervision of a member of the faculty.The culmination of all research projects will be a report, as well as an oral presentation to be given during the spring semester. Students will be required to attend the weekly department seminar program (fall and spring). Chemistry 405 is the first course of the consecutive two-semester research experience and carries no course credit; it is taken as an overload, on an “in-progress” basis. A grade will be given upon completion of Chemistry 406, which carries one and one-half units. Satisfactory completion of Chemistry 405 is a prerequisite for Chemistry 406. Each course is by permission only. Interested students are invited to apply before the registration period in the spring of the second or third year. Application in the first year requires nomination by a faculty member. Taking Chemistry 405 in the spring semester requires approval of the Department Chair. The candidate’s academic record will be reviewed to determine if the student could reasonably benefit from such a program. Prerequisites: Chemistry 222 and 231 or prior research experience at Holy Cross. One and one-half units.

Chemistry
407, 408
Fall, spring

This program builds on the experiences gained in Chemistry 405 and 406. The second year of research provides the opportunity for further in-depth investigations. The culmination of all research projects will be a report and oral presentation to the chemistry faculty during the spring semester. Students will be required to attend the weekly departmental seminars program (fall and spring). Chemistry 407 is the first course of this consecutive two-semester research experience and carries no course credit; it is taken as an overload, on an “in-progress” basis. A grade will be given upon completion of Chemistry 408, which carries one and one-half units. Chemistry 408 can not be counted toward the required minimum number of chemistry courses. Satisfactory completion of Chemistry 407 is a prerequisite for Chemistry 408. Both Chemistry 407 and 408 are by permission only. Interested students normally apply before the registration period in the spring of the third year. The candidate’s academic record to date, with particular attention given to performance in Chemistry 405 and 406, will be reviewed to determine if the student could reasonably benefit from such a program. Prerequisites: Chemistry 405 and 406. One and one-half units.

Chemistry
410
Fall, spring

This program builds on the experiences gained in prior research courses, providing the opportunity for further in-depth investigations. The culmination of all research projects will be a written report and a presentation to the chemistry faculty. Students will be required to attend the weekly departmental seminars program. This course is by permission only. Interested students normally apply to the department before the relevant registration period. The candidates academic record to date, with particular attention give to performance in prior research courses, will be reviewed to determine if the student could reasonably benefit from such a program. Prerequisites: Chemistry 390, 405/406 or 407/408. One and one-quarter units.