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Bard College Catalogue 2020-21
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Christopher LaFratta (director), Craig Anderson, Swapan Jain, Emily McLaughlin, Atahualpa Pinto, Emily White
The Chemistry and Biochemistry Program at Bard is geared primarily, but not exclusively, toward meeting the needs of students planning to do graduate and/or professional work in a variety of chemistry, biochemistry, and engineering subfields. During their course of study, students receive research training alongside faculty in modern methods in chemistry, which includes extensive hands-on experience with contemporary instruments and equipment (see “Facilities”). In addition to the core courses, a student typically completes at least two advanced electives in chemistry, biology, mathematics, or physics, according to personal goals.
Before moderating in the program, students should complete (or be enrolled in) Chemistry 141-142 and 201-202, Mathematics 141 and 142, and Physics 141. Students are expected to follow the standard divisional procedure for Moderation and to fulfill the college-wide distribution and First-Year Seminar requirements. To graduate, students must successfully complete Chemistry 311, 312, 350, and 360; one elective at the 400-level; and the Senior Project. Students interested in pursuing the biochemistry track must complete the core courses noted above, Chemistry 390 (Biochemistry), two biology laboratory electives, and the Senior Project.
Recent Senior Projects in Chemistry and Biochemistry
- “Hidden toxins in everyday cosmetics”
- “The metrology of two-photon polymerization”
- “Shining light on cyclobutane synthesis: Ir catalyzed [2+2] cycloadditions of vinylogous esters through energy transfer”
- “Thermodynamic investigation of the binding of platinum-based complexes with 10 basepair DNA/RNA structures”
Undergraduate students have the opportunity to work on research projects with members of the chemistry faculty. Recent publications that have featured student coauthors include the following:
- “A ruthenium platinum metal complex that binds to sarcin ricin loop RNA and lowers mRNA expression.” Chemical Communications 54 (2018); 8987–90
- “Augmenting mask-based lithography with direct laser writing to increase resolution and speed.” Optics Express 26 (2018); 7085–90
- “Investigation of Liver Alcohol Dehydrogenase Catalysis Using an NADH Biomimetic and Comparison with a Synthetic Zinc Model Complex” Polyhedron 114 (2016), 145-151
- Synthesis and characterization of water-soluble, heteronuclear ruthenium(III)/ferrocene complexes and their interactions with biomolecules.” Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry 144 (2015); 41–50
Facilities at the Gabrielle H. Reem and Herbert J. Kayden Center for Science and Computation and the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Science Laboratories include teaching labs, individual research laboratories for faculty and their students, seminar rooms, and expanded space for student research posters. Students have the opportunity to work with modern instrumentation, including a Varian 400 MHz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer; two Thermo Scientific Nicolet Fourier transform infrared spectrophotometers; a gas chromatograph–mass spectrometer; liquid chromatograph–mass spectrometer; several ultra violet/visible spectrophotometers; a polarimeter; two microwave reactors; a Dionex high-performance liquid chromatograph; two PTI fluorescence spectrometers; a CombiFlash® chromatography system; Isothermal Titration Calorimeter; Raman Spectrometer; Agilent ICP-Optical Emission Spectrometer; BASi Potentiostat; CHI Potentiostat; Ultrafast Ti:Sapphire Laser; Olympus laser scanning confocal microscope; field emission scanning electron microscope; BMG microplate reader; and, in collaboration with Vassar College, a state-of-the-art X-ray diffractometer. More details are available at the program website.
Core courses include Chemistry 141-142, Basic Principles of Chemistry; Chemistry 201-202, Organic Chemistry; Chemistry 311, Physical Chemistry; Chemistry 312, Advanced Inorganic Chemistry; and laboratory concepts–focused Chemistry 350, Physical and Analytical Techniques, Chemistry 360, Synthesis, and Chemistry 390, Biochemistry. One advanced elective course is offered each semester, covering topics such as organic synthesis, nucleic acids, organometallics, nanotechnology, and biochemistry.
Chemistry in Modern Policy
Chemistry plays a critical role in guiding the creation of public policy to address societal interests and needs. Utilizing case studies based on recent policy, this course aims to understand the scientific origin of the problem the policy attempts to address and its proposed solution. The primary topics consist of energy-related policies surrounding fossil fuels, renewable energies, carbon footprints, and more. No specific science or mathematics background beyond algebra is assumed.
Art and Science of Fermentation
Have you ever wondered how milk gets converted to yogurt and cheese? What causes dough to rise during the process of baking? Why kimchi is sour in taste? How yeast is responsible for the alcohol present in beer and hard cider? This laboratory course, designed for nonmajors, explores the different types of fermentation processes at the heart of many food items. Prerequisite: passing score on Part I of the Mathematics Diagnostic or permission of the instructor.
Science of Modern Technology
Technology plays an increasingly important role in our daily lives, from watches that can measure an EKG to DNA-sequencing machines that can read a person’s entire genome and mobile phones that know what floor of what building they are on. This course explores the science underlying an array of modern technologies and peers ahead toward next-generation technologies.
Basic Principles of Chemistry
An introduction to the composition, structure, and properties of matter. The first semester covers atomic structure, stoichiometry, periodic trends, bonding, molecular geometry, and the behavior of gases, liquids, and solids. Central concepts in the second semester are energy transfer, spontaneity, and change (thermochemistry, chemical equilibrium, and kinetics). The laboratory portion stresses basic techniques and quantitative applications. Basic algebra skills are required. Concurrent enrollment in calculus is recommended for students who intend to major in chemistry/biochemistry.
Students examine the structure and reactions of specific types of organic compounds and develop interrelationships that provide an integrated understanding of organic chemistry. The course emphasizes general principles and reaction mechanisms, but students are also expected to accumulate and utilize factual material. The laboratory is coordinated with classroom topics and should provide direct experience with many reactions and concepts. The laboratory also develops familiarity with experiment design, experimental techniques, and instrumental methods such as chromatography and spectroscopy. Prerequisite: Chemistry 141-142.
Quantum chemistry, spectroscopy, and thermodynamics are studied in detail. Topics covered include the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics, the hydrogen atom, computational chemistry, atomic and molecular spectroscopy, the standard functions (enthalpy, entropy, Gibbs, etc.), and the microscopic point of view of entropy. Prerequisites: Chemistry 141–142, Physics 141, and Mathematics 141 and 142, or permission of the instructor.
Advanced Inorganic Chemistry
This course places emphasis on the classification of the properties and reactivity of the elements by chemical periodicity, structure, and bonding. Topics: coordination chemistry of the transition metals, organometallic chemistry, and bioinorganic chemistry. Prerequisites: Chemistry 201-202.
Advanced Laboratory Techniques: Physical and Analytic
Students explore analytical, physical, inorganic, and organic chemistry techniques and applications. Concepts dealing with statistical evaluation of data, activity, systematic treatment of equilibrium, and electrochemistry are also addressed.
Advanced Laboratory Techniques: Synthesis
Advanced lab concepts and techniques are introduced, including multistep organic and organometallic synthesis and air- and moisture-sensitive techniques. The course also covers many analytical, physical, inorganic, and organic chemistry techniques and applications, as necessary.
This course provides an introduction to biochemistry, with an emphasis on the study of biomolecules that are central to the function of living entities. Topics include protein and nucleic acid structure/function/regulation, mechanism/kinetics of enzymes, and a brief introduction to metabolism. The study of biochemistry is at the interface of chemistry and biology, so a strong foundation in introductory biology and organic chemistry is necessary.
The starting point of this introductory course on the design and development of organic syntheses is a predictable design of organic structures based on the use of carbanions and other modern reactions. The versatility of these methods is discussed, using novel ways to apply the reactions to generate elusive structures. Variations in reactivity are examined to illustrate the differential reactivity of similar functional groups and how these differences may be used in selectivity. Prerequisite: Chemistry 202.
Protein Research Methods
A theoretical and applied overview of modern protein techniques employed in the expression, purification, and characterization of enzymes. Topics covered include protein modeling and bioinformatics, colorimetric methods, cell lysis techniques, purification of recombinant proteins, SDS- PAGE electrophoresis, enzyme kinetics, and an introduction to CRISPR-Cas9 techniques. Lectures emphasize the scientific fundamentals and historical context of the discipline; laboratory experiments are designed to give students essential training for the work of a modern protein research laboratory. Prerequisite: Chemistry 390 or permission of the instructor.
DNA/RNA: Structure and Function of Nucleic Acids
of nucleic acid chemistry. Topics include the influence of DNA/RNA structure on replication, transcription, and translation; the importance of protein-nucleic acid interactions; and the role of RNA in regulation (catalytic RNA, riboswitches, and RNA interference pathways.
This seminar focuses on understanding the synthesis and fundamental theory behind materials pertinent for energy generation, utilization, and storage. Through discussion of primary literature, the course explores recent breakthroughs and persisting problems surrounding materials used in solar cells, thermoelectrics, LEDs, batteries, and more. Prerequisite: Chemistry 311, Physics 321, or permission of the instructor.
An exploration of the design principles of artificial molecular machines, with a focus on analyzing the common molecular-level design principles—ratcheting mechanisms—that occur in both biological machines and artificial systems. Topics range from the historical development of molecular machines to more recent examples of artificial motors, ribosomes, pumps, and the development of new nonequilibrium materials. Prerequisite: Chemistry 202 or permission of the instructor.
A central goal of nanoscience is to make useful materials and devices through the synthesis and patterning of nanoscale building blocks. This course addresses the synthetic methods used to make metallic and semiconducting nanocrystals, as well as polymeric and bioinspired nanomaterials. Students also explore techniques that have been developed to organize and integrate these building blocks into functional architectures via self-assembly, templating, and lithography.