Intensive Seminars in Modern Chemistry

Open to students entering grades 11 or 12 or freshman year of college in the fall
I - June 25–July 15, 2017
Days & Time:
Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 3:10–5:30 p.m.
Luis Avila and staff

One year of high school chemistry and two years of algebra. A year of previous study of either physics or biology is recommended but not required.

“During our labs, we were able to use advanced and professional instrumentation that is rarely found in a typical high school laboratory setting. The daily seminars my class and I attended were extremely compelling, and the guidance we received from Professor Avila as well as our mentors enriched our knowledge of the subject area.” — Melissa Leone, 2016

Course Description

Chemistry, the central science, is the science of molecules and bonds. Its signature is change in all its manifestations, from events that happen on a geological time scale to those that happen instantaneously, from the cosmological to the subatomic scale. Chemistry provides powerful scientific tools that extend our ability to sense the magnitudes of change by stretching the limits of what we know of our universe.

Intensive Seminars in Modern Chemistry is designed for highly motivated students who want to strengthen their understanding of chemistry and current research methods. The daily program follows a seminar format, beginning with a presentation by senior faculty members and researchers that is expanded upon through small group discussions and laboratory experiences.

Topics have been selected because they stand out as essential themes of current research, illustrate the methods of science, lend themselves to historical development, and highlight the role of chemistry as the central science. Through integrative experiments and collaborative projects, students discover the synthetic and analytic dimensions of chemistry in forensic, environmental, and materials problems. Experiments emphasize the development of problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Formal training includes instrumental methods in spectroscopy, chromatography, magnetic resonance, and computer simulations with state-of-the-art equipment in the department’s modern laboratories. Guest lecturers and field trips to area research facilities round out the program. Students are expected to complete a small research project, prepare a scientific paper, and participate regularly in class discussions.


Luis Avila

Luis Avila is a vibrational spectroscopist and a lecturer in chemistry. He received the M.Sc. in chemical physics from Babes Bolyai University (Romania) and his Ph.D. in chemistry education from Columbia University. His current research interests include vibrational spectroscopy of materials and chemical education. He is a reviewer for the Journal of Chemical Education and the Journal of Science Education and Technology, and he has published papers and monographs on vibrational spectroscopy and authored laboratory manuals on instrumental methods and procedures.

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Specific course information, such as hours and instructors, are subject to change at the discretion of the University.