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Chemistry and Biochemistry

From left, student researchers Sallie Hohenboken '13, Mike Szmurlo '13 and Kristine Counter '12. (Story)

  • Careers/internships
  • About the program
  • What students say

The department has established internships for chemistry majors to work part time and/or summers at a local city water treatment plant, an environmental analytical lab or a paint research lab.

Over the past 25 years, more than 65 percent of Augustana chemistry graduates have chosen to continue studies at major universities. Their graduate school placement is virtually 100 percent. The acceptance rate of students into pharmacy schools has been 95 percent over the past five years.

The department's success in producing students who eventually earn a Ph.D. in chemistry has been recognized by the Dow Chemical Company Foundation, which has chosen Augustana as one of 42 colleges to receive a  four-year scholarship. This scholarship is awarded each year to one or two outstanding first-year students.

About a third of chemistry majors take jobs directly after graduation with the B.A. degree. These include those who eventually work in the chemical industry, technical sales, and teaching positions at the secondary level.

Recent graduates:

Manisha Kumar '13 is attending the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

Mark Tanner '12 is pursuing a Ph.D. in translational biology and molecular medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

Jennifer Banach is working toward a master of science in The Netherlands.

(More recent graduates and their careers)

Augustana offers a major and minor in chemistry, a major and minor in biochemistry, and a major for teaching chemistry.

Eight of the nine full-time faculty hold a Ph.D.; all are active in research and teach laboratory sessions.

One faculty member also advises Augustana’s pre-pharmacy program, a degree program typically requiring two years of study at an undergraduate school followed by four years at an accredited school of pharmacy. The curriculum for Augustana’s program focuses on chemistry, biology, mathematics, physics and coursework to build strong liberal arts foundation.

Chemistry students are heavily involved in research in and out of the classroom during the academic year and summer. Grants are available for on- and off-campus student research.

Many chemistry and biochemistry majors attend and present at regional and national conferences. Recent examples include the Argonne Undergraduate Research Symposium at Argonne National Laboratories near Chicago, the Midstates Consortium for Math and Science Undergraduate Research Symposium and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Augustana has an active student chapter of the American Chemical Society that offers tutoring. The community looks forward to the club's annual Chemistry Week open house and "Night of Explosions."

Christoper Kassl ’09, chemistry and German majors:

“I have always been a firm believer in the axiom, ‘Attitude is everything.’ When I came to Augustana, instead of being assimilated into a massive and faceless student body, I found an administration that seemed overjoyed that I would be lending my own talents and personality to a uniquely integrated community. The chemistry program afforded me the opportunity to work with a talented, experienced and approachable faculty and to test my capacity as an independent researcher on several projects of my own inspiration. The liberal studies program has enabled me to step outside the arena of the concrete and quantitative into a world of abstraction, metaphor, insight and intuition, something for which I am very thankful.”

Deidre Leist ’09, biochemistry, biology and pre-medicine majors; classics and chemistry minors:

“When it came to choosing an undergraduate institution, Augustana College could not have been a more perfect match. Augustana prides itself on individualized instruction from professors, and that is exactly what I have experienced. I had the incredible opportunity of conducting research under my biochemistry advisor for not one but two summers. I watched myself grow not only as a student but also as an individual as I presented my research findings among my peers and participated in research seminars at Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis. The fact that Augustana is a liberal arts school has also allowed me to seek out my interests in areas other than the sciences."

Mark Tanner ‘12, biochemistry and biology major; chemistry minor:

“The faculty has consistently shown an interest in helping me. Whether I wanted to study abroad, do on-campus research, get an internship or just succeed in a class, these professors have always been there. Participating in the Texas Medical Center Summer Research Internship Program was my peak experience. It also proved to be pivotal in helping me to secure plans after graduation.”

Mentors matter: Just ask Lizeth Tamayo '16

Lizeth Tamayo '16 arrived at Augustana College with a clear direction in mind. She declared a major in pre-medicine with plans to become a doctor. It made sense, she thought, to make the most of a full scholarship and a proven ability in the sciences. Her feelings started to change, however, after some heartfelt talks with Dr. Pareena Lawrence, dean of the college.

My motivations for publishing undergraduate research

Dr. Pamela Trotter, professor of chemistry, writes about the benefits of helping undergraduates publish research. "Publishing undergraduate research benefits not only me and my students, but our institution as well. It provides tangible billboards, showing what our students are doing and how they are part of the greater scientific community."

Janetopoulos '90 wins Newcomb Cleveland Prize

Dr. Christopher Janetopoulos '90, a professor of biology at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, co-authored a study which has won the Newcomb Cleveland Prize given by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He worked with 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner Dr. Eric Betzig and used a new type of 3D microscope to publish his findings in the study, “Lattice light-sheet microscopy: Imaging molecules to embryos at high spatiotemporal resolution.”
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