Chemistry Website

(Div. III)

Chair, Professor DAVID P. RICHARDSON

Professors: R. CHANG*, L. KAPLAN, LOVETT*, D. RICHARDSON, THOMAN. Professor Emeritus: MARKGRAF. Associate Professors: PEACOCK-LÓPEZ**, L. PARK. Assistant Professors: CHIHADE, KOEHLER, SCHOFIELD, T. SMITH, WEISS**. Senior Lecturer: A. SKINNER.


Through a variety of individual courses and sequential programs, the department provides an opportunity for students to explore the nature and significance of chemistry, an area of important achievement in our quest for knowledge about ourselves and the world around us. The student is able to become aware of the special viewpoint of chemists, the general nature of chemical investigation, some of its important results, how these results are expressed, and something of their significance within the fields of science and in the area of human endeavor as a whole.

A major in chemistry can be achieved in several ways, preferably beginning in the student's first year at Williams, but also beginning in the sophomore year. Building on a foundation in general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry, a student elects additional advanced courses to complete a major that is consistent with his or her background in other sciences, interests, and goals. A student's program might emphasize biochemistry, organic chemistry, or physical chemistry, with additional courses available in analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and materials science. Students considering a major in chemistry should consult with a member of the department as early as possible in order to plan a program which best suits their interests and abilities and which makes full use of their previous preparation.

Usually the requirements for the major are fulfilled by completing "Required Courses" and the appropriate number of "Elective Courses." Starting at the 200 level, at least five of the courses taken must have a laboratory component. In addition, the department has a number of "Independent Research Courses" which, while they do not count toward completion of the major, provide a unique opportunity to pursue an independent research project under the direction of a faculty member.

Required Courses

Introductory Levela

101, 102/106 (or 103-104/108) Concepts of Chemistry

Intermediate Levelb

201-202 Organic Chemistry

and either

301, 302c Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics, Structure

and Dynamics


301, 310d Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics, Enzyme

Kinetics and Reaction Mechanisms


306 Physical Chemistry: A Biochemical Approach

Elective Courses

Advanced Levele

303 Synthetic Organic Chemistry

304 Instrumental Methods of Analysis

305 Inorganic/Organometallic Chemistry

308 Toxicology and Cancer

310 Enzyme Kinetics and Reaction Mechanisms

311 Physical Organic Chemistry

312T Heterocyclic Chemistry

314T A Theoretical Approach to Biological Phenomena

316T Bioinorganic Chemistry

318 Materials Science: The Chemistry and Physics of Materials

321 Biochemistry I-Structure and Function of Biological Molecules

322 Biochemistry II-Metabolism

401 Quantum Chemistry and Molecular Spectroscopy

406 Topics in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Independent Research Courses

393, 394 Junior Research and Thesis

397, 398 Independent Study, for Juniors

493-W031-494 Senior Research and Thesis

497, 498 Independent Study, for Seniors

aBased on an outstanding performance on the College Board Chemistry Advanced Placement Test, and having consulted with the chair, a first-year student may gain credit toward the major for 101, 102 and elect Chemistry 201-202 or 301, 302 directly.

bWhile the organic chemistry courses are normally elected before the physical chemistry courses, the order may be reversed. The organic chemistry courses and the physical chemistry courses may also be elected concurrently.

cChemistry 301 is a prerequisite for Chemistry 302. Chemistry 301, 302 are strongly recommended for anyone considering graduate study in chemistry.

dChemistry 301, 310 are strongly recommended for anyone considering graduate study in biochemistry.

eThe Chemistry major requires either nine semester chemistry courses or eight semester chemistry courses plus two approved courses from among the following: Biology 101, 102; Computer Science 134; Mathematics 103, 104, 105; Physics 131, 132; or any courses in these departments for which the approved courses are prerequisites. No more than two advanced-level organic courses may be counted toward completion of the major.

Completion of any one of the advanced-level elective courses will satisfy the College requirement that a student complete a major seminar.

For the purpose of assisting students in selecting a program consistent with their interests, the following groupings of electives and faculty advisors are suggested. However, a case can be made for selecting courses from the different groups.

Biochemistry: Chemistry 303, Chemistry 308, Chemistry 310, Chemistry 311, Chemistry 314T, Chemistry 321, Chemistry 322, Chemistry 406 (Students interested in biochemistry should consult with Mr. Kaplan, Mr. Chihade, Mr. Lovett, or Ms. Weiss.)

Organic Chemistry: Chemistry 303, Chemistry 310, Chemistry 311, Chemistry 312T, Chemistry 313 (Students interested in organic chemistry should consult with Mr. Chihade, Mr. Markgraf, Mr. Richardson, or Mr. Smith.)

Physical and Inorganic Chemistry: Chemistry 304, Chemistry 305, Chemistry 313, Chemistry 314T, Chemistry 316T, Chemistry 318, Chemistry 401 (Students interested in physical chemistry should consult with Mr. Chang, Ms. Koehler, Mr. Peacock-López, or Mr. Thoman. Students interested in inorganic chemistry should consult with Ms. Park or Mr. Schofield. Students interested in materials science should consult with Ms. Park.)

The Chemistry major provides excellent preparation for graduate study in chemistry, biochemistry, chemical engineering, environmental science, medicine, and the medical sciences. The major can also be useful to those whose later professional or business careers may be related to chemical materials or processes. While any accepted route through the major would permit a student to proceed to graduate study in chemistry, three electives should be considered a minimum, and the particular importance of Chemistry 301, 302, 304, 305, and 321 as preparation for advanced study should be noted. In addition, at least a semester of research and courses in computer science are strongly recommended.

Students with principal interests outside of the sciences may extend a secondary school foundation in chemistry by electing a basic two-semester introductory course of a general nature or they may elect semester courses designed for nonmajors. All courses in chemistry satisfy the distribution requirement.

The department is accredited by the American Chemical Society (A.C.S.), a professional body of academic, industrial, and research chemists. The A.C.S. suggests the following courses for someone considering graduate study or work in chemistry or a related area. Students completing these courses are designated Certified A.C.S. Majors: 101, 102 (103-104), 201-202, 301, 302, 304, 305, 493-494; and at least two courses from 303, 311, 321, 322, 401, 406.


Students interested in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology should consult the general statement under Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Courses of Instruction.


Students interested in Materials Science are encouraged to elect courses from the Materials Science cluster offered jointly with the Physics Department, and should consult the information on page describing this option.


The degree with honors in Chemistry provides students with an opportunity to undertake an independent research project under the supervision of a faculty member, and to report on the nature of the work in two short oral presentations and in a written thesis.

Chemistry majors who are candidates for the degree with honors take the following in addition to a major listed above:

Chemistry 493-W31-494 Senior Research and Thesis.

The principal considerations in admitting a student to a program of independent research are mastery of fundamental materials and skills, ability to pursue independent study successfully, and demonstrated student interest and motivation. In addition, to enroll in these courses leading to a degree with honors, a student must have a B- average in all chemistry courses or the permission of the chair. At the end of the first semester, the department reviews the student's progress and determines whether the student is a candidate for a degree with honors. The designation of a degree with honors in Chemistry or a degree with highest honors in Chemistry is based primarily on a departmental evaluation of the accomplishments in these courses and on the quality of the thesis. Completion of the research project in a satisfactory manner and preparation of a well-written thesis usually results in a degree with honors. In cases where a student has demonstrated unusual commitment and initiative resulting in an outstanding thesis based on original experimental results, combined with a strong record in all of his or her chemistry courses, the department may elect to award a degree with highest honors in Chemistry.


Students from other institutions wishing to register for courses in chemistry involving college-level prerequisites should do so in person with a member of the Chemistry Department staff. Registration should take place by appointment during the spring semester prior to the academic year in which courses are to be taken. Students are requested to have with them transcripts of the relevant previous college work.

CHEM 301, 302, and 306 Physical Chemistry

The following three courses provide a thorough introduction to physical chemistry. Students who wish to explore the physical aspects of chemistry in greater depth than provided by 306 are urged to consider 301, 302. This pattern of course elections is particularly appropriate for those students who have taken Chemistry 103-104/108.
The focus of thermodynamics in 301 makes this course of special interest to students considering careers in biochemistry, biology, geology, engineering, and physics. First-year students, sophomores, and other students not meeting the formal prerequisites listed below, but who possess the basic skills provided by those courses, may register for 301 with the instructor's approval.