Chemistry is a major branch of the physical sciences and involves the study of substances and energy. It focuses on composition, characteristics, changes, reactions, uses, benefits, and dangers to humankind. Chemistry is important in the production of food, clothing, furniture, pharmaceuticals, plastics, glass, paper, and electronic devices. Knowledge of chemistry is crucial to environmental protection efforts as well as to human health and safety.
Broad areas for further study are inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, applied chemistry, biochemistry, physical chemistry, nuclear chemistry, medicinal chemistry, and environmental chemistry.
Thomas More’s chemistry department offers a challenging program of study, providing the student with a strong foundation in the basic areas of chemistry, which are designed to prepare the student for a career in the industry or further study in graduate or pre-professional programs. The majors offered within the program develop the student’s appreciation for the science of chemistry, embrace the importance of critical thinking, and refine problem-solving abilities in areas like general, organic, physical, analytical, inorganic, and biochemistry.
Students learn in a personalized atmosphere of lecture courses and through hands-on experimentation provided in required laboratory courses. Enrollment in courses during the first two years is typically around 30-35 students in lecture and around 15-18 students in the laboratory. Upper-level classes typically have enrollments of around six to eight students. Through smaller class sizes, students develop close relationships with the faculty and gain meaningful experience with the equipment in the laboratory.
Chemistry and biochemistry majors are also required to perform independent research for a minimum of one year. Research projects are chosen by the student in consultation with a faculty mentor, and students are encouraged to present the results of their work at local, regional, and/or national chemistry conferences.
During the first two years of the program, students have an opportunity to explore the basic theories and ideas in chemistry in the first-year general chemistry lecture and laboratory courses. Students also investigate how chemical reactions proceed in the second-year organic chemistry classes. During the student’s third and fourth years in the program, upper-level courses, like instrumental analysis, inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, physical chemistry, quantitative analysis, medicinal chemistry, and environmental chemistry, are offered on an every-other-year cycle.
In addition to lecture and laboratory work, students also take chemical literature, introduction to research, and chemical research courses during the third and fourth years. In these courses, students explore interesting research articles and topics from the literature, design a research project, and perform independent chemical or biochemical research under the direction of one of Thomas More’s distinguished faculty.
Chemistry and biochemistry are both very versatile majors. For students who are interested in applying to medical school or pharmacy school, Thomas More has designed pre-med and pre-pharm courses of study. Students interested in forensic science are encouraged to complete a concentration in forensic science alongside the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, or Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. In addition to these tracks and concentrations, Thomas More also encourages students to complement the chemistry major with an additional minor as scheduling permits.
Chemistry courses are taught by full-time, Ph.D. chemists with specialties in the areas of analytical chemistry, biochemistry, environmental chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry.
Recent graduates from the chemistry department have been employed as chemists at Procter & Gamble, Angstrom Corporation, Flavor Producers, the Northern Kentucky Water District, and the USDA Forensic Chemistry Center, among others. Recent graduates have also gone on to graduate school in chemistry, medical school, and pharmacy school.
A chemist, or biochemist, typically finds employment working in a laboratory immediately upon graduation. A bachelor’s degree in chemistry or biochemistry is excellent preparation for advanced studies in chemistry, medicine, pharmacy, law, etc.
All Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry majors are required to perform an independent research project under the direction of one chemistry faculty member. Similarly, all Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry majors and students earning a chemistry minor are invited to perform research as well. The program encourages students to build their professional resumes by presenting the results of this research at local, regional, and/or national chemistry conferences. In addition to research at Thomas More, students have also applied for and been awarded competitive Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) positions during the summer with West Virginia University, NASA, and the Universite Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France.
Generous donations from alumni allows Thomas More to offer three scholarships to deserving majors. The Zembrodt Chemistry Scholarship, B’Hymer Chemistry Scholarship, and Sr. Mary Julitta Chemistry Scholarship are awarded annually to students in the chemistry department.
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