Chemistry is the central science. Connecting the physical sciences with the life sciences, the study of chemistry gives a deep understanding of the natural world. It also provides the vital ability to illuminate relationships among the various scientific disciplines.
A degree in chemistry is the springboard to many exciting opportunities. Chemists work in a variety of careers, including research and development, engineering, the allied health sciences, law and policy, and business. Chemists are valued members of interdisciplinary teams due to their technical laboratory skills and their abilities to think critically and solve problems.
Luther’s chemistry department is recognized nationally by the American Chemical Society for the rigor and coherence of the chemistry curriculum, the breadth and accomplishments of the chemistry faculty, and the quality of the chemistry facilities. Luther is one of only ten higher education institutions in the state of Iowa to have a chemistry program approved by the American Chemical Society. This means that Luther students have the opportunity to earn a degree that is certified by the American Chemical Society. It is a credential that distinguishes them to employers, as well as to graduate and professional schools.
Luther’s chemistry major provides flexible course tracks that meet the individual needs and interests of students. Students have multiple entry points into the chemistry major through either a one- or two-semester study of general chemistry. Students choose from a variety of combinations of intermediate and advanced courses that ensure both breadth and depth, as well as maximize career possibilities. They can study abroad (including semester- or year-long experiences) and/or pursue a second major while graduating in four years.
Luther’s chemistry department is known for its accessible faculty. Classes are intimate and interactive. The chemistry department offers multiple sections of introductory courses to keep class sizes as small as possible. Intermediate and advanced courses often have less than 20 students. Laboratory sections range in size from 18 students in introductory courses to nine students in advanced courses. Credentialed faculty teach all courses. Students study in a 1,600 square-foot lounge bordered by faculty offices, which allows them to easily obtain additional assistance outside of class.
Chemistry majors also have numerous research opportunities. They can choose from a wide range of collaborative research projects with faculty that explore real-world problems. Several projects emphasize environmental sustainability, including the development of technologies related to biodegradable plastics, solar energy devices, pollutant remediation, and environmentally responsible chemical synthesis. Other projects explore the cellular functions of important biological molecules such as lipids and proteins.
Several projects connect students at Luther with other university and industrial partners, leading to further research and internship opportunities. Chemistry majors at Luther routinely present their work at research conferences, including national meetings of the American Chemical Society and the National Conference of Undergraduate Research.