Academic program

Biological chemistry encompasses the study of the form and function of the proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids found in living organisms. Traditionally, biological chemistry has been an interdisciplinary field, drawing on techniques and expertise from physics, medicine, biology, and chemistry. The required courses for the major give a student a solid foundation in basic science, while the array of elective courses allows wide latitude in pursuing an area of individual interest. The thesis provides a final integrating experience.

More information on the biological chemistry program is available on the website (

Major Requirements. The major requires thirteen or fourteen courses, including a one- or two-semester thesis, mentored in either the biology or chemistry department. Students may choose thesis advisors from faculty not formally part of the biological chemistry program committee, but thesis topics must be approved by the program committee.

Students may not double major in biological chemistry and biology, chemistry or neuroscience.

Seminar Requirement. Each major is required to make one formal thesis research presentation for each semester of thesis completed. Each senior is also required to attend at least four seminars presented by visiting scholars in either the biology or chemistry department.

B.S. Requirements. In addition to CHEM 107A or CH/ES 107B and CHEM 108A or CH/ES 108B, MATH 106 or MATH 206 and two semesters of physics (PHYS 107 or FYS 314, and PHYS 108 or FYS 274) are required. Since three of these courses are required for CHEM 302 and 310, only PHYS 108 or FYS 274 is an additional requirement.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may not be elected for courses applied toward the major.

For further information, students should consult a member of the program.

Required Courses

BIO 190. Organismal Biology/Lab.
BIO 242. Cellular and Molecular Biology/Lab.

One of the following:
BIO 328. Developmental Biology/Lab.
BIO 331. Molecular Biology/Lab.

One of the following:
CHEM 107A. Atomic and Molecular Structure/Lab.
CH/ES 107B. Chemical Structure and Its Importance in the Environment/Lab.

One of the following:
CHEM 108A. Chemical Reactivity/Lab.
CH/ES 108B. Chemical Reactivity in Environmental Systems/Lab.

One of the following:
CHEM 302. Statistical Thermodynamics.
CHEM 310. Biophysical Chemistry.

All of the following:
CHEM 217. Organic Chemistry I/Lab.
CHEM 218. Organic Chemistry II//Lab.
CHEM 321. Biological Chemistry I/Lab.
CHEM 322. Biological Chemistry II/Lab.

A one- or two-semester thesis, BIOC 457 and/or BIOC 458, is also required, with a thesis advisor who is a faculty member in either chemistry or biology.

Elective Courses

Choose at least two, one of which must come from biology. It is strongly recommended that students considering graduate programs in biochemistry, biophysics, or related disciplines select a chemistry elective.

BI/NS 308. Neurobiology/Lab.
BIO 314. Virology.
BIO 315. Bacteriology/Lab.
BIO 320. Pharmacology.
BIO 328. Developmental Biology/Lab (cannot serve as both an elective and a required course).
BIO 330. Advanced Genetics/Lab.
BIO 331. Molecular Biology/Lab (cannot serve as both an elective and a required course).
BI/ES 333. Genetics Conservation Biology/Lab.
BIO 337. Animal Physiology/Lab.
BIO 338. Drug Actions on the Nervous System.
BIO 350. Immunology.
BIO 351. Immunology/Lab.
BIO 365F. Topics in Cell Biology.
BIO 380. Plant Physiology/Lab.
BIO 477. Seminar and Research in Microbiology.
BIO s31. Avian Biology.
BIO s34. Electron Microscopy/Lab.
BIO s35. Experimental Toxicogenomics/Lab.
BIO s40. Experimental Developmental and Molecular Biology/Lab.
BIO s44. Experimental Neuro/Physiology/Lab.

CHEM 212. Separation Science/Lab.
CHEM 215. Descriptive Inorganic Chemistry.
CHEM 223. Analytical Spectroscopy and Electrochemistry.
CHEM 240. Materials Chemistry.
CHEM 301. Quantum Chemistry.
CHEM 302. Statistical Thermodynamics (cannot serve as both an elective and a required course).
CHEM 310. Biophysical Chemistry (cannot serve as both an elective and a required course).
CHEM 313. Spectroscopic Determination of Molecular Structure.
CHEM 314. Medicinal Chemistry.
CHEM 325. Advanced Organic Chemistry.
CHEM 327. Topics in Macromolecular Chemistry.
CHEM s37. Advanced Measurement Laboratory/Lab.
CHEM s42. Chemical Synthesis and Reactivity/Lab.