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The Nature of Chemistry and Its Significance
Chemistry, the study of matter and the changes it undergoes, is sometimes called the “central science.” Recent advances in chemistry have applications in such diverse fields as medicine, biotechnology, environmental science, energy, crime scene investigation, materials science, nanotechnology, and art conservation.
Majors in Chemistry +
Several options are available to those interested in studying chemistry at Colby. In addition to the traditional chemistry major, taking additional advanced courses can earn certification by the American Chemical Society (ACS). Our Chemistry Department is one of 600 accredited by the ACS. Concentrations can be completed in biochemistry, environmental science, and cell and molecular biology/biochemistry (CMBB). The CMBB program is offered jointly with the Biology Department.
Facilities, Space, and Equipment +
The Chemistry Department occupies most of the Keyes Science Building, which has undergone extensive remodeling in the past decade with new research and teaching laboratories for courses in general chemistry, analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, and instrumental analysis. Our instrumentation and equipment holdings are extensive and include gas and liquid chromatographs, three gas chromatograph/mass spectrometers, a liquid chromatograph/mass spectrometer, two differential scanning calorimeters, an isothermal titration calorimeter, infrared spectrometers (FT/IR), a time-resolved fluorescence spectrometer, cyclic voltammetry, vacuum/Schlink lines, a dye laser, a carbon/hydrogen/nitrogen analyzer, a PCR thermocycler, and an ultracentrifuge. Recent instrument purchases include a 500 MHz Fourier Transform/Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometer (FT/NMR), an inductively coupled plasma emission spectrometer, a single crystal X-ray diffractometer, and a nanosecond laser flash photolysis spectrometer. All greatly expand our ability to investigate organic, inorganic, and biological molecules. Students have access to all of our instruments through the introductory courses, advanced courses, and independent research. Our computational chemistry laboratory is extremely well equipped with two Linux servers, a wide variety of computational chemistry packages, and a Beowulf cluster of desktop computers for advanced calculations. These capabilities allow us to fully examine spatial and electronic interactions contained in both simple and complex molecular systems. Computer interfaced experimental work is provided in both the introductory and upper-level laboratories. A floating laboratory (pontoon boat) with full navigation and water sampling equipment supports geochemical studies of nearby lakes.
Graduates of the Colby Chemistry Program +
Approximately two thirds of recent chemistry graduates are in chemistry or biochemistry graduate schools, in medical or dental schools, or in other graduate programs such as law school. The others take jobs that include teaching in high schools and conducting research at chemical companies or in academic laboratories. Most eventually return to school for postgraduate education. Many former graduates are chemistry professors, medical researchers, chemical engineers, research chemists in the chemical industry, pharmaceutical industry, or government laboratories, physicians, dentists, or lawyers. Others have taken positions in pharmacy, toxicology, environmental policy, banking, insurance, or the ministry. A major in chemistry can open the door to a wide variety of professional occupations.