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.
“I learned how to think and analyze in a scientific setting.” — Jack Dermer
“[The course] gave me the chance to listen to lectures by Columbia professors and have a hands-on experience in the lab. The professors welcomed questions,making the lectures engaging and interactive” — Kalie Yuen
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 is a vibrational spectroscopist and a Columbia University Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Chemistry. He received the M.Sc. in chemical physics from Babes Bolyai University (Romania) and his Ph.D. in chemistry education from Columbia. 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.