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Chemistry

Photo of students with a professor in a chemistry lab.

With a major in Chemistry from MacMurray College, graduates will demonstrate an ability to handle the most challenging scientific information and theories, and gain a vast knowledge of multiple areas within the discipline. Students will learn and enhance skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, good written and oral communication, and independent and team learning and research. Whether it's working in the environmental sciences, forensic sciences, or in the healthcare and medical fields, a degree in chemistry opens the door to a wide variety of careers, and the faculty in the Chemistry Department help their students find the right career path so that they are prepared for life after graduation.

What makes our program different from others?

Program Learning Outcomes

Students majoring in Chemistry will be able to:

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Opportunities for Students

Students have the opportunity to do joint research projects with professors in the sciences. These projects allow students to learn how to do research and report their findings in a professional manner using chemical theories and terminology.

Students are encouraged to complete an independent study that will allow them to develop a project which is holistic to their learning experience. The Independent Study gives students the freedom to take what they've learned and apply it to a research project that is designed to fit the student's interests with the help of their professors.

Coursework

Major in Chemistry

To major in chemistry, you need six 300-level courses in the discipline, including CHEM 313, 331, 332 and 343. The two additional required courses may be any combination of CHEM 314, 322, 333, 336, 344 and 350.

All of the required core chemistry courses are taught with a required laboratory, except CHEM 420. The laboratories are equipped with modern instrumentation including electronic balances, high-performance liquid chromatograph, gas chromatograph, spectrophotometers (ultraviolet, visible and infrared), computer interfacing for experiments, pH meters, combustion bomb and refractometers. A computer laboratory is also located within the Chemistry Department.

CHEM 121, 122. General Chemistry. (4, 4) Introductory survey of chemistry. Atomic and molecular structure, chemical bonding and energy, the physical states, reaction rates and chemical equilibrium. A systematic survey of the elements. For science majors. Prerequisites: familiarity with basic algebra is expected and high school chemistry or permission of instructor. A grade of C or better in CHEM 121 is a prerequisite for 122.

CHEM 131. Organic and Biological Chemistry for Nonmajors. (4) Introductory survey of organic and biological chemistry for non-science majors. Structures and properties of organic molecules and biochemical systems. This course does not satisfy the prerequisite for any courses requiring CHEM 122. Prerequisite: high school chemistry with a grade of C or better, or permission of instructor.

CHEM 313. Quantitative Analysis. (4) Volumetric and gravimetric analysis, including both theoretical and laboratory applications, introduction to instrumental analysis, and detailed analysis of unknowns. Prerequisites: CHEM 122 and MATH 131 or the equivalent.

CHEM 314. Instrumental Analysis. (4) Study of the principles and methods of instrumental analysis, including spectroscopic, magnetic, absorptive and chromatographic techniques. Prerequisite: CHEM 313 and permission of instructor.

CHEM 322. Advanced Inorganic Chemistry. (3 without lab, 4 with lab) Theoretical topics in inorganic chemistry, including molecular bonding and symmetry, coordination chemistry, ligand field theory, molecular orbital theory, absorption spectra and organometallic chemistry. Prerequisite: CHEM 313 and permission of instructor.

CHEM 331, 332. Organic Chemistry. (4, 4) Introduction to organic chemistry. Nomenclature, chemical and physical properties of the functional groups, and relation of reaction mechanism and structure to chemical and physical behavior. Prerequisite: CHEM 122 or equivalent. A grade of C or better in CHEM 331 is a prerequisite for 332.

CHEM 333. Biochemistry. (4) The basic concepts which give rise to the vast diversity of biochemical processes in living organisms. Topics include anabolism and catabolism of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and nucleic acids, generation of energy, and selected topics from physiological biochemistry. Three class hours and three laboratory hours per week. May be taken for biology or chemistry credit (see BIOL 333). Prerequisites: CHEM 331 and two semesters of biology. A second semester of organic chemistry is strongly recommended. Offered every other spring.

CHEM 336. Advanced Organic Chemistry. (3) Organic compounds considered from a physical chemical or theoretical point of view. Linear free energy and other quantitative relationships, spectroscopy and structure determination, pericyclic reactions. Prerequisite: CHEM 332 and permission of instructor.

CHEM 350. Materials Chemistry. (3) A survey course of materials including metals, ceramics, semiconductors, polymers and nanomaterials. Structure-property relationships, synthesis techniques, characterization techniques. Prerequisites: CHEM 122, PHYS 202 and MATH 135 or permission of instructor.

CHEM 343, 344. Physical Chemistry. (4, 3) A continuation of CHEM 343: Thermodynamics, kinetics, nature and properties of gases, liquids, solids and solutions, atomic and molecular structure. Prerequisites: CHEM 122, PHYS 202 and MATH 135 or permission of instructor. A grade of C or better in CHEM 343 is a prerequisite for 344.

CHEM 420. Topics in Science. (2) A comprehensive examination and analysis of selected topics in science. Involves the use of primary literature and seminar presentations. Two class hours per week. Prerequisites: senior standing in Biology or Chemistry and course in statistics (BUSA 221 or PSYC 221). Offered every spring.

CHEM 479. Undergraduate Science Mentor. (2 or 3) The goal of this course is to provide the student one-on-one mentoring with a faculty member in chemistry in order to provide the student with individualized guidance in science theory and/or advanced laboratory/field skills. Practical application to peer mentorship is a crucial aspect of this course meant to strengthen science fundamentals and leadership skills essential for careers in the biomedical, physical and laboratory sciences, and field biology, as well as in teaching. Two credits for lecture- or laboratory-only participation, or three credits for lecture and laboratory course participation. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

Faculty

Photo of Nadine Szczepanski

Nadine Szczepanski, Ph.D.

Lead Faculty for Natural Sciences
Horace A. Shonle Professor of Chemistry

"I love teaching at MacMurray because I love interacting with our students. I like helping them to learn chemistry and helping them to become successful in their chosen fields. I enjoy really getting to know them as people and watching them become confident adults by the time they graduate."

  • Areas of interest: Dr. Szczepanski has a special interest in applied chemistry. Currently she is collaborating with a Mac student on a research project with the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association. They are studying the chemistry of wines and the IGGVA is conducting a sensory analysis. They are trying to correlate the chemistry of wines with sensory appeal.
    Before Dr. Szczepanski came to MacMurray, she worked for the Illinois EPA as an analytical chemist, at Owens-Corning studying coatings for composites, at Avery International studying pressure sensitive adhesives, and at Mead Corporation studying carbonless copy papers. She has a US Patent for her invention of a novel carbonless copy coating.
    Dr. Szczepanski is also interested in how chemistry is taught internationally. She has served as a mentor for the US National Chemistry Olympiad team for several years and as a judge at the International Chemistry Olympiad in the Republic of Georgia in 2016.
  • Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry — University of Illinois at Chicago
  • M.S. in Chemistry — University of Illinois at Chicago
  • B.S. in Chemistry and Psychology — MacMurray College
  • Courses taught: General Chemistry I and II, Organic Chemistry I and II, Quantative Analysis, Organic and Biological Chemistry
Photo of Gwendowlyn Knapp

Gwendowlyn S. Knapp, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry

"I love teaching at MacMurray because I really get to see the evolution of my students as they become successful in their chosen careers."

  • Areas of interest: Dr. Knapp is interested in the genetic regulatory mechanisms of bacteria.
  • Ph.D. in Biochemistry — Texas A&M University
  • B.S. in Molecular Genetics — Purdue University
  • Courses taught: General Chemistry, Biochemistry, Organic and Biological Chemistry for Non-majors

Internships

Depending on interest and concentration, students can intern at businesses in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas, or they can choose to look for an internship during the summer near their hometown. Many internships will allow the student to shadow professionals in the medical or health fields, forensics labs, environmental labs, etc., allowing students to get a hands-on experience outside of the classroom.

Alumni

Photo of Dr. Norman Foster.

Dr. Norman Foster '73

Dr. Norman Foster graduated from MacMurray in 1973 with a degree in Chemistry and Biology. During his time at Mac, he was editor of the MacMurray Journal of Natural Science, a member of the math club and he played intramurals. "MacMurray College showed me the wide range of possibilities. I was also exposed to many broad areas of intellectual life," said Dr. Foster.

After receiving his MD from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Foster remained in higher education, teaching at the University of Michigan for many years where he founded the state's first dementia clinic. Currently, he works at the University of Utah as a Senior Investigator at the Brain Institute where his research is primarily focused on brain imaging to help distinguish the difference between Alzheimer's and other types of dementia.