Chemistry

Working on research with chemistry professor Wei Chen.

The chemistry department is housed in a recently completed integrated Science Center, representing a $36 million commitment to the education of women in the sciences. Modern teaching and research laboratories and a large collection of state-of-the-art instrumentation provide the backdrop to an energetic and diverse department. Tracing its origins to the pioneering spectroscopic work done here at the College, the collaboration of the faculty with undergraduates on research projects remains a key element of departmental life.

Mount Holyoke's chemistry department is among the best-funded small college science departments in the nation, with a correspondingly high output of top-quality publications and students prepared to enter graduate and other professional schools.

Chemistry and biochemistry majors benefit from close interactions with both faculty and other students throughout their college careers, particularly in upper-level courses where class enrollments are kept low. In the Peer-Led Undergraduate Mentoring System, experienced chemistry and biochemistry majors run intensive workshops for both general and organic chemistry in support of faculty teaching.

Majors can also gain valuable teaching experience, and reinforce their understanding, by serving as laboratory teaching assistants, instrumentation technicians, graders, and individual tutors. The extensive alumnae network has proven invaluable to majors when locating summer internships and employment opportunities. In addition, a vibrant summer research program, heavily supported by both federal and private foundation grants, enrolls significant numbers of students each year, many of whom continue their investigations as independent study during the academic year.

Mount Holyoke College has a long tradition of educating women chemists and is the alma mater of more Ph.D. women chemists than any other institution in the country. As of the early 1990s, one in four women chemists in the United States had received her bachelor's degree from Mount Holyoke. In fact, a recent National Science Foundation study of women doctorate recipients by baccalaureate institutions ranks Mount Holyoke first among all selective liberal arts colleges in producing women who went on to receive Ph.D.s in the life and physical sciences in the period running from 1966 to 2001. One quarter of students here major in the sciences or mathematics, twice the number of women majoring in these areas at comparable coeducational institutions.