Chemistry and Biochemistry
Why Chemistry and Biochemistry?
Chemistry has often been called the ‘central science’ and as such is a key component of the so-called STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). These fields collectively make up only 5% of the jobs in the US economy but they have outpaced growth in employment and salaries in other fields for several decades. Importantly, a recent large study* has argued that careers in these fields are critical to our US economic competitiveness because of their direct ties to innovation and productivity. To this end, our programs of study provide a solid comprehensive grounding in the fundamentals of chemistry and biochemistry with the goal of empowering our students to succeed in a diversity of fields in industry and academia.
Our department is vibrant and active with enthusiastic, energetic faculty who enjoy working closely with undergraduate students, both in and out of the classroom. Our class sizes are small – typically about 30 students in sections of General Chemistry or Organic Chemistry and fewer than 20 students in the accompanying lab sections. Most upper level Chemistry and Biochemistry classes have enrollments with fewer than 15 students. We distinguish ourselves from many other colleges in that most of our lab sections are taught by full-time faculty members and not graduate student teaching assistants.
Our teaching labs are spacious and well equipped with analytical instrumentation. In the past three years we have purchased new instrumentation for fluorescence spectroscopy, UV-Vis absorption spectroscopy and fast kinetics, Raman spectroscopy and electroanalytical chemistry. Recently we have installed a 400 MHz Bruker Avance NMR spectrometer inside the Organic Chemistry teaching laboratory. Since we do not have a graduate program, all our analytical instrumentation is exclusively for students to use in their laboratory classes and research.
Research is an extraordinary opportunity during which students can work closely with a faculty member as early as the freshman year in order to be engaged in a hands-on way with the process of discovery. To this end, in April of 2008 Providence College rededicated Hickey Hall following an extensive remodeling of the building at a cost in excess of $4.2 million. The laboratories in Hickey Hall are for the undergraduate research activities of students working with faculty members in the departments of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Engineering-Physics-Systems. The department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has two large, flexible, multi-user labs; one for chemical synthesis and the other for chemical measurement. Research opportunities are available both during the academic year for academic credit and during the summer months for paid compensation.
Each May we graduate about 10-15 chemistry and biochemistry majors. These talented students leave well prepared for their future careers having successfully completed a challenging program of studies while working together in a supportive environment. In the past few years our alumni have entered graduate programs at prestigious schools such as Cal-Berkeley, Columbia, Northwestern, Princeton, UPenn, and Yale. Other alumni have entered medical school at Albert Einstein, Brown, Pittsburg, Tulane, UConn, USUHS, and Wake Forrest, dental school at Tufts, and pharmacy school at the MCPHS. Still others found employment at Merck, Hanna Instruments, and Organogenesis.
Programs of Study
Our department offers three tracts of study; the B.S. in Chemistry, the B.S. in Biochemistry, and the B.A. in Chemistry. Our B.S in Chemistry program has been certified by the American Chemical Society since 1958 and is directed towards students committed to a career in chemistry. Our B.S. in Biochemistry program was started in 1999 and was certified in 2006. The Biochemistry major has been quite popular; over 50% of our majors choose this program of study, which is an excellent preparation for graduate school, professional schools in the health sciences and industrial employment. The B.A. in Chemistry program is has proved to be well suited for careers in secondary education, business, intellectual property law, and other fields where the technical knowledge of chemistry is essential.
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*Georgetown University Public Policy “STEM Report” October 20, 2011.