Courses

For more information about the curriculum, visit For Students.

The following information is from the 2016-17 Vassar College Catalogue.

Chemistry: I. Introductory

108a. General Chemistry 0 or 1

This course covers fundamental aspects of general chemistry in two semesters, including descriptive chemistry, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, atomic and molecular structure, states of matter, properties of solutions, thermodynamics, kinetics, equilibria, and electrochemistry. Most of the work is quantitative in nature. The department.

Yearlong course 108/CHEM 109.

Three 50-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

109b. General Chemistry 0 or 1

This course covers fundamental aspects of general chemistry in two semesters, including descriptive chemistry, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, atomic and molecular structure, states of matter, properties of solutions, thermodynamics, kinetics, equilibria, and electrochemistry. Most of the work is quantitative in nature. The department.

Yearlong course CHEM 108/109.

Three 50-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

125a and b. Chemical Principles 0 or 1

This course is designed to cover the important aspects of general chemistry in one semester, and is appropriate for students who have previously studied chemistry. The material covered includes chemical reactions, stoichiometry, atomic and molecular structure, and general chemical physics, emphasizing the fundamental aspects of and connections between equilibria, electrochemistry, thermodynamics, and kinetics. The department.

Three 50-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

135 Introduction to Forensic Chemistry 1

Forensic chemistry is the application of chemistry in the study of evidence in criminal or civil cases. This course covers underlying chemistry concepts and scientific methods as applied to the study of the forensic evidence. An introductory level of organic and polymer chemistry relevant to the study of forensic evidence is also included. Students apply modern analytical methods in the study of glass samples, fingerprints, hair and fibers, paints, drugs, trace metals, and arson investigations. The analytical methods include thin layer chromatography (TLC), infrared (IR) spectroscopy, gas chromatography, GCMS, inductively coupled plasma (ICP), and X-ray fluorescence (XRF). The format of the course is based on lectures, laboratory exercises, case study discussions, and several guest speakers on select topics in forensics science. Ms. Kaur.

Not offered in 2016/17.

145 Chemistry Research Techniques 0.5 or 1

This course provides an introduction to modern research instrumentation and techniques in chemistry through multiple-week laboratory projects. Students get experience with the use of advanced instrumentation, and in interpreting and analyzing the experimental results. Topics may include: structural characterization with X-ray crystallography; materials analysis with scanning probe microscopies; polymer synthesis and characterization; synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials; computational chemistry to perform theoretical ab initio calculations and computer modeling of biomolecules. Mr. Donhauser.

Prerequisite: CHEM 125.

Enrollment by permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2016/17.

One 50-minute period; one 4-hour laboratory.

146b. The Culture and Chemistry of Cuisine 1

(Same as STS 146) A basic biological need of all organisms is the ability to acquire nutrients from the environment; humans accomplish this in many creative ways. Food is an important factor in societies that influences population growth, culture, migration, and conflict. Humans discovered the science and art of food preparation, topics that are explored in this course, not in a single step but rather as an evolving process that continues to this day. This course develops the basic chemistry, biochemistry and microbiology of food preparation; explores the biochemical basis of certain nutritional practices; covers social and political aspects of foods throughout world history. It covers controversies like genetically modified organisms, the production of high-fructose corn syrup, and the historic role of food commodities such as salt, rum, and cod in the world economy. Course topics are explored through lectures, student presentations, and readings from both popular and scientific literature. The course includes a few laboratories to explore the basic science behind food preparation. Miriam Rossi.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

198a or b. Freshmen Independent Research 0.5

Students perform independent chemistry research under the direction of a faculty member of their choosing. Attendance at regularly scheduled department seminars/events is required to satisfactorily complete the course. The department.

Open only to freshmen.

Chemistry: II. Intermediate

244a. Organic Chemistry: Structure and Properties 0 or 1

An introduction to the structure of organic molecules and to their nomenclature. Among the properties of organic compounds, shape, charge distribution, and spectroscopic properties are emphasized. Laboratory work includes isolation, physical transformations and identification of organic compounds including the application of gas chromatography and infrared and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The department.

Prerequisite: CHEM 109 or CHEM 125.

Three 50-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

245b. Organic Chemistry: Reactions and Mechanisms 0 or 1

A study of the reactions of organic compounds from a mechanistic point of view. Laboratory work includes synthesis, qualitative analysis, and quantitative investigation of reaction rates and equilibria which emphasize mechanistic considerations. The department.

Prerequisite: CHEM 244.

Three 50-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

272b. Biochemistry 0 or 1

(Same as BIOL 272) Basic course covering protein structure and synthesis, enzyme action, bio-energetic principles, electron transport and oxidative phosphorylation, selected metabolic pathways in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Ms. Bailey, Mr. Eberhardt, Ms. Garrett, Mr. Straus.

Prerequisites: CHEM 244 

Three 50-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

275 Computational Methods in Chemistry 0.5

This course introduces several molecular modeling methods in computational chemistry (molecular mechanics, semi-empirical and ab-initio methods, and density functional theory) to study geometries, properties, and reactivities of organic compounds; an introductory level of theory is presented to delineate the basis of these molecular modeling methods. The course also includes computational laboratory exercises to supplement concepts covered in lectures, and project-based exercises to explore applications of computational methods in the study of chemical systems.

Prerequisite: CHEM 245 or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2016/17.

290 Field Work 0.5 to 1

297a. Reading Course 0.5

298a or b. Independent Research 0.5 to 1

Students perform independent chemistry research under the direction of a faculty member of their choosing. Attendance at regularly scheduled department seminars/events is required to satisfactorily complete the course. The department.

Chemistry: III. Advanced

300a or b. Senior Thesis 1

323a. Protein Chemistry 1

A detailed study of the structure and function of proteins. Structure determination, mechanisms of catalysis and regulation, and the interactions of enzymes in complex systems are treated. The department.

Prerequisite: CHEM 350 or CHEM 272. Corequisite: CHEM 350

Two 75-minute periods.

324a. Molecular Biology 1

(Same as BIOL 324) An examination of the macromolecular processes underlying storage, transfer, and expression of genetic information. Topics include the structure, function, and synthesis of DNA; mutation and repair; the chemistry of RNA and protein synthesis; the regulation of gene expression; cancer and oncogenes; the molecular basis of cell differentiation; and genetic engineering. Ms. Bailey.

Prerequisites: two 200-level courses including one of the following: BIOL 205, BIOL 218, BIOL 238, BIOL 244, BIOL 248, or BIOL 272.

Two 75-minute periods.

325b. Topics in Biochemistry 1

This course explores the intersection of biology and chemistry. Topics include the structure and function of proteins, bioenergetics, information flows and the molecular basis for metabolic pathways. The department.

Prerequisites: CHEM 245, BIOL 105 or BIOL 106.

This course does NOT meet the biochemistry major requirement. Students may not take both BIOL 272/CHEM 272 and Chem 325.

Three 50-minute or two 75-minute periods.

326a. Inorganic Chemistry 1

An introduction to structure and reactivity of inorganic, coordination, and organometallic compounds, including the following topics: chemical applications of group theory, atomic and molecular structure, theories of bonding, the solid state, coordination chemistry, inorganic reaction mechanisms, and organometallic chemistry. The department.

Prerequisite: CHEM 352, or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

342b. Advanced Organic Chemistry 1

Selected topics in organic chemistry such as stereochemistry, conformational analysis, carbanions, carbocations, radicals, kinetic and thermodynamic control of reactions, mechanisms, synthesis. The department.

Prerequisites: CHEM 245, CHEM 350, or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

350b. Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics and Chemical Kinetics 1

Equations of state for gases; the laws of thermodynamics; solutions and phase equilibria; chemical equilibrium and chemical kinetics. The department.

Prerequisites: CHEM 245; PHYS 113, PHYS 114; MATH 121, MATH 126 and MATH 127 or the equivalent; or permission of the instructor.

Three 50-minute periods.

352a. Physical Chemistry: Molecular Structure 1

Introductory wave mechanics and bonding theories; electrical and magnetic properties of molecules; spectroscopy; statistical mechanics. The department.

Prerequisites: CHEM 245; PHYS 113, PHYS 114; MATH 121, MATH 126 and MATH 127 or the equivalent; or permission of the instructor.

Three 50-minute periods.

357 Chemical Physics 1

The course includes selected topics which are of interest to chemistry majors as well as biochemistry and physics majors. Possible topics include applications of group theory, interaction of radiation with matter, molecular spectroscopy, reaction kinetics, reaction rate theory, and statistical mechanics. The material covered in any particular semester depends on the mutual interests of the instructor and the students. The department.

Prerequisites: CHEM 350 and CHEM 352 or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2016/17.

362b. Instrumental Analysis 1

An introduction to chemical analysis, this course covers the theoretical and practical aspects of spectroscopic, electrochemical, and chromatographic -methods, including topics in instrumentation, statistics, and chemometrics. Mr. Belli.

Prerequisite: CHEM 245 or permission of the instructor.

Three 50-minute periods.

365 Spectrometric Identification of Organic Compounds 0.5

This course focuses on the use of modern analytical instrumentation to identify unknown organic compounds. Students get extensive hands-on experience using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR) (1H, 13C, DEPT, COSY, HETCOR), Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), and Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS). Working with weekly unknowns, students learn to interpret spectra and assemble the data necessary to support both a formula and structure determination. The department.

Prerequisite: CHEM 245.

Not offered in 2016/17.

One 4-hour laboratory.

370a or b. Advanced Laboratory 0.5 or 1

Advanced laboratory work may be elected in the field of organic, analytical, physical, inorganic, biochemistry, or environmental chemistry. The department.

Prerequisite: a 300-level course in the pertinent field. Corequisite: a 300-level course in the pertinent field.

One 4-hour laboratory.

372a. Integrated Chemistry Laboratory 1

This course provides a comprehensive laboratory experience in chemistry. Selected experiments teach advanced chemistry techniques and reinforce principles introduced in 300 level chemistry courses. The course exposes students to chemistry as an integrated subject, tying together the sub-disciplines that are traditionally offered as independent courses. This includes: instrumental analysis, physical chemistry, biochemistry, environmental, organic chemistry and inorganic chemistry. The department.

One 50-minute period; one 4-hour laboratory.

373b. Integrated Chemistry Laboratory 1

This course provides a comprehensive laboratory experience in chemistry. Selected experiments teach advanced chemistry techniques and reinforce principles introduced in 300 level chemistry courses. The course exposes students to chemistry as an integrated subject, tying together the sub-disciplines that are traditionally offered as independent courses. This includes: instrumental analysis, physical chemistry, biochemistry, environmental, organic chemistry and inorganic chemistry. The department.

One 50-minute period; one 4-hour laboratory.

375 Aquatic Chemistry 0.5 or 1

(Same as ENST 375) This course explores the fundamentals of aqueous chemistry as applied to natural waters. The global water cycle and major water resources are introduced. Principles explored include: kinetics and thermodynamics, atmosphere-water interactions, rock-water interactions, precipitation and dissolution, acids and bases, oxidation and reduction, and nutrient and trace metal cycling. Alison Spodek.

Prerequisites: CHEM 245; PHYS 113, PHYS 114; MATH 121, MATH 126 and MATH 127 or the equivalent; or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2016/17.

382 Special Topics in Organic Chemistry: Introduction to Polymer Chemistry 1

Properties and uses of selected polymers (thermally stable, conducting, and biodegradable). This course includes organic and kinetic aspects of polymerizations, characterization techniques for structure determination, thermal and -mechanical properties, and measurement of molecular weight and distribution. Laboratory techniques and experiments leading to synthesis, characterization and physical properties of selected polymers (synthesized or commercially available polymers) are emphasized. Ms. Kaur.

Prerequisites: CHEM 244/CHEM 245 or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2016/17.

Two 50-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

399 Senior Independent Research 0.5 to 1

Students perform independent chemistry research under the direction of a faculty member of their choosing. Attendance at regularly scheduled department seminars/events is required to satisfactorily complete the course. The department.

Open only to seniors.