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New Curricular Developments

Research RotationResearch Rotations: The last several springs, we offered a Freshmen Research Rotation and the last two fall semesters we have offered a Majors Research Rotation. In both courses, several groups of six students spend two weeks in six different labs learning about the techniques and goals of the research in that lab.  Fifteen faculty members in Chemistry and Biochemistry have volunteered their time to offer these courses. Many of the senior research students help run these experiences as well, so it is a true collaborative operation.

Science of Alcohol:  Dr. Michael Cohen (adjunct faculty) continued to develop a course on the science of alcohol pitched for students in science who want to better understand the chemical processes of fermentation of wine, beer and spirits. Dr. Jason Overby has now added a lab component to the course and we hope to further develop activities that are beneficial training for students pursuing careers in vineyards, distilleries and breweries, a burgeoning industry in Charleston. 

Industrial Chemistry: Dr. Neal Tonks designed this capstone lab course to introduce undergraduates to the methodologies and techniques utilized in an industrial climate that are not part of the normal American Chemical Society curriculum.  The focus is to solve one technical problem from an industrial firm through the development of a new product, process or analytical procedure that has commercial possibilities. The goal is to develop processes that minimize waste and energy input and that utilize the principles of Green Chemistry. The class culminated with a trip to Kemira at Bushy Park, where students gave presentations to the management team of the company.  

Vector Calculus with Chemical Applications: Our physical chemists (Drs. Boucher, Krantzman and Lavrich) helped the Math Department design an upper level math course specific for our majors. The five-credit course is a blend of Calc II, Calc III, linear algebra and differential equations, all topics that help students better understand the derivations they study in Physical Chemistry.  Dr. Jason Howell in Math has led this effort. Students can opt to take this course or a traditional Calc II-Calc III sequence. 

Accelerated General Chemistry for Honors:  This fall, Dr. Jason Overby developed a 5-credit Honors general chemistry course that covers the year-long content of general chemistry in a one semester accelerated course. Most students selected for the experience have substantial high school chemistry and/or AP credit for general chemistry. 

Research-based Chem 112L:  For nearly two years, we have been running a research-based Chem 112L (General Chemistry II lab).  Some 400 students have completed the new curriculum. The new lab mimics the research of Dr. Wendy Cory, who is leading and developing the course.  The College’s HHMI Science Education grant provided equipment for the course. Students spend the semester developing skills such as using calibration curves, buffer preparation, sample preparation, experimental design, data analysis, and data interpretation. They study OTC pharmaceutical drug degradation and monitor the chemical decomposition of drugs such as acetaminophen using HPLC.  The new format includes the writing of a formal paper in scientific journal style. Student response has been overwhelmingly positive about the change. Dr. Cory presented the concept at the SERMACS meeting in Fall 2016 and has had requests for course materials from multiple institutions.