Learning Objectives

Coursework in the Biological Chemistry major is designed so that students:

  • Learn and integrate foundational material in Chemistry, Biology and Biochemistry that is relevant to Biological Chemistry and prepares students for careers and post-baccalaureate education.
  • Compare and analyze experimental approaches/techniques and data analysis from the primary scientific literature in order to understand how new scientific knowledge is gained, how data are analyzed and how to evaluate the quality of an experimental design or the quality of the data obtained.
  • Use data analysis methods including graphing and statistical analysis.
  • Develop problem solving skills and analytical thinking skills.

The laboratory and research component of the Biological Chemistry major is designed so that students:

  • Design and conduct experiments, using a broad variety of experimental techniques, and interpret the data obtained to draw conclusions about whether the results do or do not support a hypothesis being tested and whether the experimental design was appropriate.
  • Work collaboratively with other students and with faculty, understanding that most scientific knowledge/conclusions draw(s) on multiple sources of data and multiple experimental approaches.
  • Learn “best approaches” for conducting experiments including laboratory safety, data replication and quality control, record keeping, and other aspects of “responsible conduct of research”.
  • Gain familiarity with an area of science such that the students can present their work to a professional audience and also discuss their work with a general audience.
  • Develop problem solving skills and analytical thinking skills.

The scientific communication component of the Biological Chemistry major is designed so that students:

  • Understand and practice the principles of oral scientific presentations (talks, posters). Communicate effectively with well-designed posters and slides in talks or poster presentations aimed at scientific audiences as well as the general public.
  • Develop the principles of good writing: Building the simplest possible words and sentences into concise, well-ordered arguments, using the paragraph as the basic unit of composition.
  • Become proficient in creating figures, graphs or other visual representations of data.
  • Describe biochemical and mathematical concepts in words. This includes being able to describe the interpretation of data and the conclusions drawn from an analysis of data. Drawing conclusions involves the construction of an argument based on an interpretation of data. When appropriate, evidence from the literature is often used to support the argument.
  • Learn the mechanics of writing a scientific paper or preparing an oral presenation. This includes learning how to communicate well with graphs, tables, diagrams and other visual materials.
  • Develop the skills needed to write about science for broader audiences: notably, policy makers and the public.