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Academics > Majors & Minors

Chemistry

Contact

Diana Cermak

Professor of Chemistry; Chair of Chemistry

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999

309-341-7434

dcermak@​knox.edu

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A wooden model of a molecule sits on a shelf in Professor Diana Cermak's office.

Major, Minor

How we work

  1. We support student-powered discovery. Collaborative research and small, personal classes are the hallmark of our chemistry program. At Knox, all of our labs are taught by faculty and upper-level classes range from 5 to 15 students.
  2. We provide hands-on experience. Our students begin cutting edge, independent research early in their careers. As a result, almost 90% of chemistry grads pursued independent research during their time at Knox.
  3. We use cutting-edge technology. Knox provides students with all of the sophisticated instrumentation essential to modern chemistry. In the last five years, Knox chemistry faculty have been awarded more than $1 million in grant funding for state-of-the-art, research-grade instrumentation and funding for student scholarships and summer internships on campus, giving students ample opportunity for in-depth research.
  4. We give our students a critical advantage. Our emphasis on critical thinking, clear and concise scientific writing, and excellent presentation skills—in addition to opportunities for extensive lab and field work—gives Knox graduates an advantage when it comes to graduate school. As a result, Knox ranks in the top 4% of U.S. institutions in producing Ph.D. recipients relative to institution size. According to one recent grad, "The rigor of the classes at Knox made the transition to graduate level courses relatively easy for me compared to some of my fellow graduate students."
  5. We aim higher. Through the COAST (Creating Opportunities and Access in Science and Technology) program, academically qualified students majoring in biology, chemistry, and biochemistry with financial need receive scholarships, tutoring, seminars with visiting scientists, and other opportunities to help prepare them for careers or graduate programs in the sciences.

Where we work

Because modern chemistry relies heavily on sophisticated instruments, a well-equipped chemistry department is important. Knox provides all the instrumentation a chemist needs, including:

  • Spectrometers: 400 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), Infrared (IR), Raman, UV/visible, laser, mass, atomic, fluorescence, circular dichroism, and polarimetry
  • Inert Atmosphere Glovebox, Schlenk Manifolds & Solvent Purification System: Allowing for the synthesis of molecules in water and/or oxygen-free environments
  • Chromatographs: Permeation and research-grade gas and liquid chromatographs
  • Differential Scanning Calorimeter, Variable Temperature Polarized Microscopy
  • Extensive Biochemistry Equipment: Including liquid chromatography (HPLC) and Stopped-Flow Circular Dichroism spectrometry.
  • Computers, 24-Core Server, & Computational Programs: Computational Modeling (Density Functional Theory), Data-gathering, Analysis, Library access to structure-searching databases (including SciFinder Scholar)

What We Learn

The Knox chemistry curriculum has three levels of comprehensiveness:

The major requires 11 credits in general, analytical, organic, inorganic and physical chemistry, advanced studies, calculus and the senior seminar. In addition to major requirements, students preparing for graduate school or professional careers in chemistry are advised to take advanced inorganic and physical chemistry, two upper-level courses in instrumentation, and a two-term sequence in general physics.

Students may also receive certification by the American Chemistry Society by taking, beyond the professional major, one biochemistry course and two additional advanced electives in the department (one elective may be in advanced physics or mathematics). Also recommended for ACS certification are a course in expository writing and an introductory course in computer science.

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Printed on Thursday, November 23, 2017

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