The program in chemistry is designed to meet the needs of students who are pursuing chemistry either for a variety of pre-professional reasons or to increase their knowledge of the natural sciences. Therefore, Haverford has a chemistry major program that provides preparation for careers in science, medicine, law, business, K-12 education, as well as a number of other professions.
The major program recognizes that chemistry as a discipline is a core science but is also intertwined with a number of other fields, including physics, biology and math/computer science. In fact, some of the most exciting areas in science today are found in the interdisciplinary fields of chemical physics, chemical biology, theoretical/ computational chemistry, environmental studies and materials science. The chemistry major allows the student flexibility in designing a program that can be directed toward such interdisciplinary areas or to one of the more traditional areas of organic, physical, or inorganic chemistry. In addition, the Chemistry Department is one of the sponsor departments of the concentrations in Scientific Computing and Biochemistry and Biophysics and contributes courses to the minor in Environmental Studies.
Our major goal is to provide our students with the most rigorous education in the core concepts of chemistry.
- Students will understand and apply basic research methods as used professionally in chemistry, including research design, data analysis, and interpretation.
- Students will understand the fundamental basis for the structures and reactivities of atoms, molecules and non-molecular solids and the analytical techniques used for their determination.
Haverford’s Institutional Learning Goals are available on the President’s website, at http://hav.to/learninggoals.
Students interested in majoring or minoring in chemistry, or those who wish to take chemistry in support of another science major or a preparation for careers in medicine or other health-related fields, have three possible entry points into our course sequences. The particular entry point or placement depends on the level of preparation of the individual student and is determined by the combination of results from a placement questionnaire and individual consultation. Students with no to limited previous chemistry experience enter the first-year chemistry sequence with the intensive courses CHEM H113 (Structure and Bonding), followed by CHEM H114 (Chemical Dynamics). Students with typical high school chemistry preparation enroll in non-intensive courses that cover the same material. The third entry point is for students with an excellent high school chemistry background, who take CHEM H115, which includes the CHEM H111 lecture and a more investigative, independent lab program, followed by CHEM H112. All students can continue the following year with CHEM H222, a course in organic biological chemistry and CHEM H225, which is focused on organic synthesis. Pre-medical students should continue through at least CHEM H222, and may need to take additional organic or biochemistry courses depending on the requirements of medical schools.
The Chemistry Department also occasionally offers a course at the 150 level that is without prerequisites and does not count toward the major. These courses are designed to give students majoring in all fields an appreciation for and understanding of important chemical concepts and theories and their applications to our contemporary world.
Research is the characteristic activity of chemists, and the Chemistry Department believes that students should be involved in research as part of their chemical education. As juniors (typically) our majors take intensive integrated laboratory courses (“Superlabs”; CHEM H301, CHEM H302 and CHEM H303) designed to teach the laboratory, computer, experimental design and communication skills needed for independent research. All senior chemistry majors are required to write a senior thesis based on mentored research for which they receive course credit. Students at any level of the curriculum can obtain laboratory research experience through paid summer internships or by enrolling in research tutorial (CHEM H26x and CHEM H36x) courses during the academic year, and most majors do both. Typically two to seven students work in each faculty member’s laboratory during any given semester or summer. Chemistry majors who wish to work elsewhere for the summer have been successful at securing summer research positions in university, government, and industrial chemical laboratories. The senior research thesis also includes communicating research work in different formats, including an oral presentation in our weekly, year long departmental seminar series, which also includes invited speakers, and a poster presentation at the end of the academic year.
This research experience nurtures talents and abilities, encourages independent problem solving, and builds on concepts and principles discussed in prior formal class work. It also can help the student define choices for careers after graduation. Research allows students to discover and develop creativity and independence, which the well-structured programs of the formal courses do not always adequately address. Student and faculty research in the department is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and several other external sources as well as substantial internal support from the College. Students are also encouraged and enabled to present their research work at regional and national conferences. Students and faculty from the Chemistry Department publish their research findings in top tier peer-reviewed journals; publications are listed at the Chemistry Department web site.
The core required courses are:
- four semesters of introductory and organic chemistry: CHEM H111, CHEM H113 OR CHEM H115, CHEM H112 OR CHEM H114, CHEM H222, and CHEM H225.
- two semesters of advanced integrative chemistry laboratory (“Superlab”): CHEM H301 and CHEM H302.
- one semester of physical chemistry: CHEM H304 or CHEM H305.
- one semester of senior research tutorials: CHEM 36x or CHEM H380.
- two half-semester courses in inorganic chemistry: CHEM H320 and one of CHEM H351, CHEM H353, or CHEM H354.
- Departmental Seminar: CHEM H391 (a half credit course spread over two semesters).
Chemistry majors must also complete:
- one semester of additional advanced chemistry courses numbered CHEM H304-CHEM H358.
- one semester of math (MATH H118 or above).
- two semesters of either introductory physics (PHYS H101/PHYS H102 or PHYS H105/PHYS H106) or biology (BIOL H200).
ACS-Certified Chemistry Major
An American Chemical Society (ACS) certified major requires additional coursework and is recommended for students interested in pursuing graduate study in science and engineering, or who wish to directly enter the job market in a chemistry- related field after graduation.
In order to receive ACS certification, students must satisfy all of the major requirements in a way that includes a year of physics and a semester of biochemistry (this is automatic for biochemistry concentrators), and also must take one additional physical chemistry course. Specifically, ACS-certified majors must complete:
- both semesters of physical chemistry (CHEM H304 and CHEM H305); for ACS-certified majors these courses do not fulfill the additional advanced course requirement.
- two semesters of introductory physics (PHYS H101/PHYS H102 or PHYS H105/PHYS H106).
- one semester of biochemistry, which can be BIOL H200 (second semester), two half-semester courses from CHEM H351,CHEM H352, CHEM H357 and CHEM H359, or equivalent, such as Bryn Mawr CHEM B242 or higher.
The senior project in chemistry has two major components. First, all seniors enroll in CHEM H391 Departmental Seminar, a year-long seminar course. Second, all seniors enroll in at least one credit of research, either experimental, computational or literature-based. The course numbers for research as specific to the faculty advisors, often with a CHEM H36x designation. CHEM H36x work involves the design, articulation and conduction of an independent research project. Students are expected to be in the laboratory for at least 15 hours per week performing experiments, analyzing data and designing future experiments. Additional activities include participation in research group meeting, where data, experiments and literature articles are discussed. Each student prepares a formal document (the "senior thesis" at the end of their spring semester detailing their work in the Senior Project.
CHEM H391 exposes students to chemistry through talks by chemists from other institutions and provides enrolled students with opportunities to present their own work formally. Each student prepares and delivers both an oral and poster presentation. The oral presentations occur throughout the academic year, and the poster presentations occur in April. The audience for these presentations is all chemistry seniors, underclass students involved in research, post-doctoral fellows and the faculty in chemistry.
Senior Project Learning Goals
Identify and describe research methods used to probe specific chemical motifs.
- This learning objective involves the correct use various instrumental analyses in the full characterization of different reaction types. This learning objective most likely fits into the junior level CHEM H301/CHEM H302 Lab in Chemical Structure and Reactivity (Superlab).
Design and articulate an independent research project.
- This learning objective is designed to probe a student’s ability to digest the chemical literature, formulate new ideas and articulate them clearly. This objective will take the form of an independent research proposal that is based upon the primary literature and includes new ideas and directions. This would serve a few purposes. First, it would provide preparation for senior thesis experience in that they need to be able to propose future experiments in current projects. Second, it would provide another source for the evaluation of their critical thinking skills.
Critique conclusions presented in the primary literature.
- This learning objective is designed to measure a student’s ability to analyze and critique the primary literature. This is performed routinely in the advanced level courses offered by the Chemistry Department.
Senior Project Assessment
The Chemistry Department’s assessment of a student’s capstone experience involves three major components: research efforts, oral presentation skills and the written thesis. We seek to help students develop and demonstrate the following behaviors and skills.
Chemistry Research Grades
Senior research grades encompass several different components, including research efforts, the quality of the senior thesis, and student participation in senior seminar. The text below conveys our expectations for the research experience:
A 4.0 student will:
- demonstrate independent intellectual involvement in their project.
- show evidence of productivity that is commensurate with the amount of credit assigned to 36x.
- make creative contributions to the design and analysis of experiments.
- propose independent ideas to overcome research obstacles.
- proactively use the primary literature as an integral resource.
- interpret their own data and develop ideas for subsequent studies.
- maintain a clear and complete laboratory notebook.
- display critical thinking in lab meetings.
- work to maximize research progress during the year.
A 4.0 student will:
- clearly describe the context of the project in the greater literature.
- briefly summarize the history or related studies.
- explain the novelty of the work described in the thesis.
- detail experimental methodologies to the level of detail with which one could reproduce all experiments.
- identify the strengths and limitations of each technique used.
- summarize and interpret all results.
- analyze the outcome of their experiments in the context of the greater literature, with particular emphasis on continued progress of the research project.
- clearly display experimental data through the use of tables and figures, when appropriate.
- fully and consistently cite literature precedence.
A 4.0 student will:
- clearly construct and deliver an oral and poster presentation in which the relevance, novelty and preliminary results are communicated clearly within the given constraints.
- demonstrate the progress of their project between the oral and poster presentations.
- answer post presentation questions completely.
- be an active participant in other presentations (by both students and outside speakers) by asking questions.
Grades for each student are assigned by the student’s research supervisor using the criteria described above. Student theses, presentations and experimental efforts are all discussed at a meeting of the chemistry faculty at the end of each academic year.
An additional level of assessment is used for each student for internal purposes. The department scores each student in the following categories; oral presentations, intellectual contributions, command of the literature, experimental skills, and written work. These “scores” for each student are either “fails to meet expectations”, “meets expectations”, or “exceeds expectations”. These data are tracked from year to year and allow the department to observe and emerging trends and challenges and to adapt our program to foster success in our students.
Requirements for Honors
All students who participate in Senior Research (CHEM H36x) for two semesters (or for one semester with an appropriate summer research experience) will be considered for departmental honors. Successful honors candidates will be expected to do superior work in major courses and to complete a research project at a level superior both in quality and quantity of effort to that expected in normal course work.
- Four semesters of introductory and organic chemistry: CHEM H111, CHEM H113 OR CHEM H115, CHEM H112 OR CHEM H114, CHEM H222, and CHEM H225.
- One semester of physical chemistry: CHEM H304 or CHEM H305.
- One semester of advanced chemistry chosen from courses numbered between CHEM H301 and CHEM H369.
Students must take at least three of the courses for the chemistry minor at Haverford College. The Departmental Seminar (CHEM H391) is not required, but recommended.
Concentrations and Interdisciplinary Minors
Students who major in chemistry may choose to minor or concentrate in any of several related disciplines. For more information about these programs and their requirements, please see each program’s website or catalog entry.
Haverford’s Concentration in Biochemistry and Biophysics is located at the interface between the biological, chemical, and physical sciences. For our ambitious students and faculty who seek to understand biological processes from physical and chemical points of view, this is an especially exciting place to be. We offer a range of courses of study depending on the student’s particular area of interest, and a biologically flavored version of the major for biochemistry concentrators. Biochemistry concentrators can enroll in either CHEM H303 or BIOL H300 / BIOL H301 as one of their junior "Superlab" semesters: these are integrated laboratory courses in biochemistry and biology, respectively. Biochemistry concentrators also take advanced electives offered by the Biology department.
Environmental Studies Minor
The Environmental Studies Interdisciplinary Minor aims to cultivate in students the capacity to identify and confront key environmental issues through a blend of multiple disciplines, encompassing historical, cultural, economic, political, scientific and ethical modes of inquiry.
In the Chemistry Department, courses that contribute to this minor are CHEM H112, CHEM H150 and CHEM H358.
The minor in Neuroscience is designed to allow students with any major to pursue interests in behavior and the nervous system across disciplines. Students should consult with any member of the Neuroscience advisory committee in order to declare the minor.
Scientific Computing Concentration
The Concentration in Scientific Computing gives students an opportunity to develop a working knowledge of the tools and concepts involved in applying computation to a scientific problem, and to explore the specific computational aspects of their own major disciplines.
In the Chemistry Department, courses that contribute to this concentration are CHEM H304, CHEM H305, and CHEM H361 or CHEM H362; students are also encouraged to enroll in CHEM B322 when it is offered at Bryn Mawr College. Scientific Computing concentrators in the Chemistry Department typically do senior thesis research with a strong computational focus.
4+1 Engineering Program with the University of Pennsylvania
Haverford College and the University of Pennsylvania have formed a partnership that enables qualified Haverford undergraduates to gain early and expedited admission into a Master’s degree offered by Penn Engineering. Study for four years at Haverford, then one year at Penn, and receive a Bachelor of Science degree from Haverford and a Master’s in Engineering from Penn. Haverford was the first liberal arts college in the world to enter into such an agreement with an Ivy League engineering program. 4+1 programs of particular synergy with the Chemistry major include Bioengineering, Materials Science, and Nanotechnology.
Chemistry majors wishing to study abroad during the junior year should confer with their faculty advisors: such students typically take at least one chemistry or biochemistry course per semester at the foreign institution. The Chemistry Department has currently approved and active international study abroad programs at Oxford University (England), University College London (England), University of Melbourne (Australia), and University of Aberdeen (Scotland). Chemistry majors have also recently studied at University of Stockholm (Sweden), Queen’s University (Northern Ireland), National University of Ireland (Ireland), University of the West Indies (Barbados) and University of Cape Town (South Africa), among other programs.
About one third of Haverford’s chemistry majors enter top-ranked graduate programs leading to a Ph.D., and approximately another third enter medical school after graduation. The remaining third of Haverford’s chemistry majors obtain challenging and rewarding positions as teachers, laboratory scientists, and information specialists, among other professions.