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Department ofChemistry and Biochemistry

Academic Programs

Why Study Chemistry and Biochemistry

Chemistry and biochemistry, its close relative, are often referred to as the central sciences because they unite physics and mathematics, biology and medicine, and the earth and environmental sciences. These two sciences are fundamental to our existence, playing a role in nearly every aspect of our lives. They are essential for meeting our basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, health, energy, and clean air, water, and soil. Technologies based on chemistry and biochemistry enrich our quality of life in numerous ways by providing novel solutions to issues in health, materials, and the generation and use of energy.

By studying chemistry and biochemistry, you open the door for understanding the nature of chemicals and chemical processes, thereby providing insights into a variety of physical and biological phenomena. It also puts you in an excellent position to choose from a wide variety of useful, interesting, and rewarding careers. A person with a bachelor's level education in chemistry or biochemistry is well prepared to assume professional positions in the private sector, education, or public service. The list of career possibilities for people with training in chemistry and biochemistry is long and varied. Even in times when unemployment rates are high, the chemist remains one of the most highly sought-after and employed scientists.

The behavior of atoms, molecules, and ions determines the sort of world we live in, our shapes and sizes, and even how we feel on a given day. Chemists and biochemists that understand these phenomena are very well equipped to tackle problems faced by our modern society. On any given day, they may be measuring the amount of insecticide in drinking water, comparing the protein content of meats, developing a new antibiotic, or analyzing a moon rock. To design a synthetic fiber or even the skin of a space capsule requires a knowledge of chemistry. To understand why an autumn leaf turns red, or why a diamond is hard, or why soap gets us clean, requires, first, a basic understanding of chemistry. And knowledge of biochemistry is a prerequisite for studying such vital topics as the mechanism of the recombination of DNA molecules, the mode of action of a life-saving drug, and metabolic processes of all sorts.