Chemistry Website


Chair, Associate Professor LEE Y. PARK

Professors: KAPLAN, LOVETT**, PEACOCK-LÓPEZ***, RICHARDSON, THOMAN. Associate Professor: L. PARK, T. SMITH. Assistant Professors: BINGEMANN, GEHRING, GOH, SCHOFIELD. Professor Emeritus: MARKGRAF. Senior Lecturer: A. SKINNER. Lecturers: MACINTIRE, TRURAN. Visiting Professor: R. CHANG.


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 of chemistry 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, physical chemistry, or inorganic chemistry, with additional courses available in analytical chemistry, environmental science, 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 300 level, at least three 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

First Year: 151 (or 153 or 155), 156 Concepts of Chemistry, Organic Chemistry: Introductory Level

Second Year: 251 (or 255b), 256c Organic Chemistry: Intermediate Level, Foundations of Physical and Inorganic Chemistry

Quantitative Coursesd

361e Physical Chemistry: Structure and Dynamics

364 Instrumental Methods of Analysis

366e Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics

367f Biophysical Chemistry

Elective Courses

Advanced Levelg

321 Biochemistry I-Structure and Function of Biological Molecules

322 Biochemistry II-Metabolism

324f Enzyme Kinetics and Reaction Mechanisms

332 Materials Science: The Chemistry and Physics of Materials

335 Inorganic/Organometallic Chemistry

341 Toxicology and Cancer

342 Synthetic Organic Chemistry

344 Physical Organic Chemistry

346 Heterocyclic Chemistry

368 Quantum Chemistry and Molecular Spectroscopy

436T Bioinorganic Chemistry

464T A Theoretical Approach to Biological Phenomena

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

aAll students begin their study in the department with either Chemistry 151, 153, or 155. Placement at the introductory level is based upon performance on the departmental placement test results and consultation with the chair; results of the College Board Advanced Placement Test or the International Baccalaureate Exam are also taken into account. The first year is completed with Chemistry 156. In the second year at the introductory level, students take Chemistry 251 (or 255) and Chemistry 256 (those students who complete 155 are exempted from 256).

bStudents wishing to pursue a research-based version of the laboratory program in Chemistry 251 may elect 255 after consultation with the chair.

cChemistry 256 is the fourth course in the Department's Introductory-level sequence. This course is a prerequisite (or co-requisite) for all Quantitative and Advanced-level electives.

dTo complete the major in Chemistry, students must elect any one of Chemistry 361, 364, 366, or 367. The course elected, in consultation with the chair or major advisor, will depend on the student's future plans.

eChemistry 361 and 366 are strongly recommended for anyone considering graduate school in chemistry.

fChemistry 367 and 324 are strongly recommended for anyone considering graduate school in biochemistry.

gThe 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 321, Chemistry 322, Chemistry 324, Chemistry 341, Chemistry 342, Chemistry 344, Chemistry 367, Chemistry 436T, Chemistry 464T (Students interested in biochemistry should consult with Ms. Gehring, Mr. Kaplan, or Mr. Lovett.)

Organic Chemistry: Chemistry 324, Chemistry 341, Chemistry 342, Chemistry 344, Chemistry 346 (Students interested in organic chemistry should consult with Ms. Goh, Mr. Markgraf, Mr. Richardson, or Mr. Smith.)

Physical and Inorganic Chemistry: Chemistry 332, Chemistry 335, Chemistry 361, Chemistry 364, Chemistry 366, Chemistry 368, Chemistry 436T, Chemistry 464T (Students interested in physical chemistry should consult with Mr. Bingemann, Mr. Chang, 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. Goh or 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 321, 335, 361, 364, and 366 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 non-majors. 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: 151 (153 or 155), 156, 251 (255), 256, 335, 361, 364, 366, 493-494; and at least two courses from 321, 322, 342, 344, 368, BIMO 401.


Students interested in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology should consult with the general statement under Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Courses of Instruction. Students interested in biochemistry are also encouraged to complete the biochemistry courses within the chemistry major by taking 367, 324, 321, and 322 in addition to the first and second year required courses.


Students interested in Bioinformatics, Genomics, and Proteomics should consult the general statement under Bioinformatics, Genomics, and Proteomics in the Courses of Instruction. Students interested in these areas are also encouraged to complete the biochemistry courses within the chemistry major by taking 367, 324, 321, and 322 in addition to the first and second year required courses.


Students interested in Materials Science are encouraged to elect courses from the Materials Science program offered jointly with the Physics Department, and should consult the information on page 63 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. 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.