Course Catalog

Department of Chemistry and Physics


Rich Gurney, Professor & Co-Chair
Nancy E. Lee, Professor & Co-Chair
Michael J. Berger, Professor
Shreya Bhattacharyya, Lecturer
Mariam N. Ismail, Assistant Professor
Michael Jordan, Senior Lecturer
Mirela G. Mustata, Assistant Professor
Ahmed Radwan, Lecturer
Cherie Ramirez, Lecturer
Jennifer A. Roeklein-Canfield, Professor
P. Jason White, Associate Professor
Irv Levy, Chemistry Laboratory Manager
Vicente Franzin, Physics Lab Technician
Elizabeth Atwood, Administrative Assistant


Chemistry and physics lie at the foundation of modern science. Careers in these fields span the entire range of contemporary technologies. The majors in chemistry and physics provides training for students planning careers in the chemical and physical sciences and also for those whose interests lie in biology, medicine, veterinary, dental, pharmacy, materials science, chemistry management, secondary education, the environment and sustainability. Our program is built upon on a strong foundation of materials science, sustainability, green principles, and we instill these ethics throughout our curriculum and research.

Courses in chemistry and physics also provide a strong service to majors in Exercise Science, Nursing, Nutrition, and Physical Therapy. More than half of the Simmons College undergraduate population will, at some stage of their degree program, take a course in the Department of Chemistry and Physics and the curriculum of the Department is designed to satisfy the diverse needs of all these students.

Each graduate of our Department will have completed an integrated, rigorous program, which includes foundational course work in chemistry/physics and in- depth course work in chemistry/physics or chemistry/physics-related fields. The ACS-certified degrees further emphasize laboratory experience and the development of professional skills. Advanced coursework and educational activities outside the traditional classroom, such as independent research, provide students the opportunity to conduct individual research projects or participate as a member of a research team. Writing and defending their senior independent study thesis also further strengthens and better prepares our majors to enter not only graduate and professional schools but also directly into clinical and research related industries directly upon graduation.

Our innovative research-integration program brings students into genuine laboratory research projects in their courses beginning in the first semester of their first year. After declaring a major in our department, students select one of the individual laboratory study/ bench carrels in the W. M. Keck Independent Study Laboratory (S430) or within a faculty research laboratory, where they carry out much of the rest of their laboratory and course work. Grants to Simmons have provided the department with instrumentation beyond the scope usually available at undergraduate colleges. The American Chemical Society (ACS) promotes excellence in chemistry education for undergraduate students through approval of our baccalaureate chemistry program. The ACS certifies that we offer our students “a broad based and rigorous chemistry education that provides students with the intellectual, experimental, and communication skills to participate effectively as scientific professionals.” At graduation, chemistry majors will have a set of fundamental competencies that are knowledge-based, performance/skills-based, and professional.

To enhance student skills, the department offers the opportunity to explore in depth instrument or technique training CHEM15X, participating in a research project CHEM25X, or designing and running a research project CHEM35X; where X designates the number of 20 hour blocks a student devotes in a given semester. These “Research Experience in STEM” designations appear on the transcript as a zero credit course. Contact the Chair of the Department to learn more.

In addition to the chemistry and biochemistry major approved by the American Chemical Society, and the physics major, Simmons offers a number of special chemistry and physics related programs:

  • Interdisciplinary major in Environmental Science (tracks in Chemistry or Biology)

  • Joint major in Chemistry and Management

  • Minor in Sustainability

  • Minor in Physics

  • Minor in Chemistry\

  • MS in Chemistry or Applied Physics (through an articulation agreement with the University of Oregon Master’s Internship Program—a 1-year program—following the Simmons BS in Chemistry, Biochemistry or Physics.) See the program in physics.

Students who major in a program of study in Chemistry or Physics can use up to one AP test score of five to replace CHEM 113, a core requirement of the major.

Students who major in a program of study in Chemistry or Physics can use an IB test score of six or seven to replace a core requirement of the major CHEM 113 or CHEM 113 and CHEM 216, respectively. Enrollment in CHEM 115 in the Fall term, instead of CHEM 113, is recommended for these students.

Learning Outcomes


All our graduates will be able to:

  1. Master a broad set of chemical knowledge concerning the fundamentals in the basic areas of the discipline (organic, inorganic, analytical, physical, and biological chemistry).

  2. Solve quantitative and qualitative problems competently by identifying the essential parts of a problem and formulating a strategy for solving the problem. Rationally estimate the solution to a problem, apply appropriate techniques to arrive at a solution, test the correctness of the solution, and interpret the results.


All our graduates will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Design chemical experiments, properly carry out the experiments, be able to troubleshoot experiments, appropriately record and interpret the results, and recognize what constitutes “reasonable” data.

  2. Use standard laboratory equipment, modern instrumentation, and classical techniques to carry out experiments.

  3. Follow proper procedures and regulations for safe handling and use of chemicals.

  4. Communicate the concepts and results of laboratory experiments through effective writing and oral communication skills.

  5. Use computers in data acquisition and processing and use available software as a tool for data analysis.

  6. Employ modern library search tools to locate and retrieve scientific information about a topic, chemical, chemical technique, or an issue related to chemistry.


All graduates will:

  1. Maintain the integrity of data and demonstrate ethical and professional standards, in accordance with the American Chemical Society guidelines for professional conduct, which include familiarization with safety and health hazards, the prompt and proper documentation of experiments and data in laboratory notebooks, and the ethical, and legalimplications associated with their research.

  2. Act in a highly ethical and professional capacity as a scientist in the articulation, evaluation, and employment of methods and chemicals that are benign for human health and the environment, and 1) to understand their responsibility to the health, safety and environmental impacts of their work, 2) to recognize the constraints of limited resources, and 3) understand the need to develop sustainable products and processes that protect the health, safety, and prosperity of future generations

  3. Successfully pursue personal career objectives following graduation. These may include an advanced education in professional or graduate school, a scientific career in government or industry, a career in teaching, or a related career.

  4. Function successfully as part of a team, exhibit good citizenship in group interactions, and be an active contributor to group projects.

Honors in Chemistry and Physics

The Department of Chemistry and Physics will grant Chemistry and Physics Departmental Honors to students graduating with majors within the Department who have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.8 or above and also earned an “Honors Thesis” designation. An “Honors Thesis” designation will be awarded to an exceptional senior thesis completed for Independent Study within the Department; earning an A on all three thesis work categories—work in the laboratory, written thesis document, and thesis defense.

American Chemical Society Certified Majors

ACS Certification ensures that the comprehensive undergraduate experience provides an excellent foundation for a career in the molecular sciences. A certified degree signifies that a student has completed “an integrated, rigorous program, which includes introductory and foundational course work in chemistry and in-depth coursework in chemistry or chemistry-related fields. The certified degree also emphasizes laboratory experience and the development of professional skills.” Certification that the student’s curricular program has met the ACS Certification is not required for any career or graduate study. ACS Certified Majors include: BS Chemistry and BS Biochemistry (if CHEM248 is completed in addition to the B.S. Biochemistry curriculum).