Jaime Mueller, Ph.D., Chair
The department of chemistry sees its focus as providing students with the liberal arts background and comprehensive chemical education necessary to succeed in graduate or professional school or in entry level careers in the chemical sciences. Chemistry, a basic science, contributes to the general objectives of a liberal arts education both through its content and through the skills and dispositions that it imparts to students. The fundamental principles of chemistry constitute some of the most important underlying concepts for understanding the physical and biological behavior of nature. Hence, some knowledge of chemistry is a prime requisite for anyone who is to be considered liberally educated.
General Department Goals
- Demonstrate their understanding of the fundamental chemical principles and concepts by applying them to the solution of unfamiliar chemical situations and exercises.
- Predict the products of chemical reactions, propose reagents to transform one compound into another, draw reaction mechanisms, name compounds and interpret spectral data for the purpose of structural determination.
- Solve practical chemical problems by gathering pertinent information, applying chemical concepts where appropriate and calculating and interpreting numerical results.
- Work as a team to design laboratory approaches to solving chemical problems, use the chosen methodologies to obtain meaningful data, and present satisfactory qualitative and quantitative solutions to the problems.
- Design and implement an original research project that includes an effective survey of the chemical literature as well as their own independent experimental or theoretical work.
- Effectively communicate the results of their original research in a formal written report and/or oral presentation.
The department believes that active learning, self-directed learning, and group learning are all valid approaches to accomplish the above outcomes. As a consequence, the courses designed by the department rely heavily on guided-inquiry methods, laboratory projects and research, with constant stress on written and oral communication. Our general belief is that students learn better by doing.
Chemistry students can be involved in the activities of the department, especially through the Saint Mary’s University Chemistry Club. The Chemistry Club has been a student affiliate chapter of the American Chemical Society since 1947. The club sponsors speakers, field trips, fund raisers, educational programs and social events. The members are also involved in promoting National Chemistry Week in the fall of each year.