Chemistry and Biochemistry are limited enrollment programs whereby you will need to complete certain gateway courses (ENGL 101, MATH 141, and organic chemistry I) before transferring into the major. Chemistry and Biochemistry majors must meet certain Benchmarks as they progress through the major.
A career in Chemistry offers the opportunity for a challenging and rewarding life. Chemistry is the central science. It bridges with physics and materials science, with the biological sciences and medicine, and with the earth and planetary sciences. Chemistry is a fundamental driver in the business and commerce sector of our society.
Chemists and biochemists are in continual demand. Many students with degrees in chemistry or biochemistry choose to pursue an advanced degree in graduate school, or to attend medical, dental, pharmacology, or veterinary schools. Chemists, however, are important in a wide spectrum of fields.
In industry, chemists and biochemists work on projects such as new product development and testing for substances important in products ranging from common household goods to exotic pharmaceuticals. Chemists and biochemists are also needed in the broad area of environmental chemistry. In addition to the areas of industrial hygiene and waste treatment, environmental chemists are required in toxicology where a knowledge of both chemistry and biological systems is important. Environmental chemists are required to measure toxins in the environment, conduct research into the reactions and biochemical reaction mechanisms of possible pollutants, and to help provide insights into the development of new compounds which are less toxic to humankind and the environment.
In government, laboratory chemists and biochemists are involved in measurements for standardization, development of new analytical techniques, merging computers and chemistry in new technology, and even robotics. Additionally, government laboratories have positions for scientists to conduct research that is similar to the basic research conducted at the University of Maryland and many other universities.
Some examples of agencies that need chemists and biochemists in their research activities are the:
Graduate work in chemistry is challenging, and to be successful, you must have a strong work ethic and a sincere interest in the process of scientific discovery. It is important that you enter your graduate studies knowing what you want to accomplish and being prepared to work for it. You should attempt to appraise objectively your own particular goals and talents and consider them in relation to those required for success in graduate work. Do not be deterred if your academic record is less than an A average. Instead, consult with an advisor, a friend, or an acquaintance who has experience in graduate work and who can give you good advice concerning your qualifications, options, and chances for success.
What About Other Professional Programs?
Chemistry and Biochemistry majors have successfully pursued law degrees and MBAs. These lawyers and business people are sought after because of their technical background and ability to understand complex issues involving science and technology. Students may pursue careers in sales, regulation of industry, or science policy.
An area which is always important and of increasing popularity is Chemistry Education. Some majors are now teaching secondary school science classes. Another area, for those who enjoy writing, is Science Journalism. There is a great need for science expertise in the news media. Many Biochemistry students are interested in pre-medicine.
Most chemists and biochemists, however, pursue laboratory research. We believe that the development of quality research scientists must begin at the undergraduate level with a positive research environment. These research opportunities at the early stages of development allow the aspiring scientist to obtain the proper perspective on the successes and failures associated with scientific research. As important is the opportunity for students to explore different areas of research and to discover the excitement inherent in research activities.
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry provides several different programs for undergraduate research opportunities. This research is quite different from the laboratory exercises that are part of our lower division courses. Students can participate in any or all of these projects as their interest and schedules permit.
Students may get involved in the Alpha Chi Sigma fraternity. Alpha Chi Sigma is the only professional chemistry fraternity in existence. Founded December 11, 1902 at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Alpha Chi Sigma has since grown to fifty-three thousand members nationally.
Also the American Chemical Society student affiliate chapter brings to students interested in chemistry and related fields an awareness of the opportunities and importance of academic and professional chemistry. Through science related activities and events, students find academic and social aid, a professional pride for the chemical sciences, and an awareness of the responsibilities and challenges that are faced by modern chemists.