The Department of Chemistry offers undergraduate degree programs in chemistry and biochemistry. The BS degree in chemistry is approved by the American Chemical Society. The WWU chemistry and biochemistry program is recognized as one of the finest in the country and is focused on supporting our students and preparing them for success in their chosen careers. The Department of Chemistry — in addition to its core of fundamental studies in analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry — has added a variety of elective courses that offer diversity in training, study and research at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Within the department, faculty members are active in many research areas, including biofuels, protein engineering, computer modeling, catalysis, nanomaterials, materials for solar cells, electrochemistry, polymers, thin films, protein structural analysis by nuclear magnetic resonance and x-ray crystallography, organic synthesis, and science education. Detailed explanations of the current research areas of the faculty can be found on the department website (cse.wwu.edu/chemistry). Several faculty members have also authored successful textbooks.
Every effort is made to continually update and modernize course work and teaching methods. The department maintains state-of-the-art instrumentation for both teaching and research activities. Students gain experience in modern analytical methods through hands-on use of the instrumentation. Western’s graduates have a long and enviable record of success in PhD programs at major research universities and in a variety of medical, dental and pharmacy programs.
Department faculty all hold the PhD degree, and most have had postdoctoral experience before coming to Western. The department supports active faculty-directed undergraduate and graduate research programs, and undergraduate students are encouraged to undertake a research project early in their studies.
There is a high degree of personal contact between faculty and students in the department. Supporting students is a core mission of the department, and faculty and department staff members assist with academic and career counseling.
SPENCER ANTHONY-CAHILL (1997) Chair and Professor. BA, Whitman College; PhD, University of California-Berkeley.
JOHN ANTOS (2012) Assistant Professor. BS, Ohio State University; PhD, University of California-Berkeley.
ROBERT BERGER (2013) Assistant Professor. A.B. Chemistry, Princeton University; PhD, Cornell University.
EMILY BORDA (2005) Associate Professor. BS, Gonzaga University; MEd, PhD, University of Washington.
MARK BUSSELL (1990) Professor. BA, Reed College; PhD, University of California-Berkeley.
STEVEN EMORY (2001) Associate Professor. BS, California Lutheran University; PhD, Indiana University.
JOHN GILBERTSON (2008) Associate Professor. BA, Augustana College; MS, PhD, University of Oregon.
TIM KOWALCZYK (2014) Assistant Professor. BS, University of Southern California; PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
JANELLE LEGER (2009) Professor. BS, University of California at Davis; PhD, University of California at Santa Cruz.
MARC MUÑIZ (2015) Assistant Professor. BS, Montclair State University; PhD, North Carolina State University.
AMANDA MURPHY (2010) Associate Professor. BS and BA, Western Washington University; PhD, University of California-Berkeley.
GREGORY O’NEIL (2008) Associate Professor. BS, Boston College; PhD University of Colorado-Boulder.
DAVID PATRICK (1996) Professor. BS, University of California-Davis; PhD, University of Utah.
GERRY PRODY (1984) Associate Professor. BS, PhD, University of California-Davis.
DAVID RIDER (2010) Associate Professor. BS, Simon Fraser University, PhD, University of Toronto.
MARGARET SCHEUERMANN (2015) Assistant Professor. BA, Scripps College; MS, PhD, University of Washington.
SERGE SMIRNOV (2008) Associate Professor. BS, MS, Moscow Institute of Physics & Technology; PhD, State University of New York at Stony Brook.
P. CLINT SPIEGEL (2007) Professor. BS, Oregon State University; PhD, University of Washington.
JAMES VYVYAN (1997) Professor. BS, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; PhD, University of Minnesota.
A chemistry department major who wishes to graduate with honors in chemistry must complete a one-year program of research, culminating in CHEM 498 - Honors Research in Chemistry. The student must also maintain a 3.50 cumulative grade point average, submit a senior thesis and present a public seminar describing the research topic and results. Criteria for candidacy for departmental honors are 1) a minimum grade point average of 3.50 at the conclusion of the penultimate year and 2) acceptance for admission to the program by the chemistry department. Students who are in the University Honors Program must also satisfy these departmental requirements.
Other Departmental Information
Programs and Career Opportunities
The programs of study offered by the chemistry department are diverse and challenging, and provide the following benefits to the student:
- A wide variety of programs, designed to meet diverse career goals
- A faculty committed to excellence in undergraduate education and research
- Close student-faculty contact and relatively small classes
- Direct access to modern laboratory equipment and instrumentation
- Opportunity for research under the direction of a faculty advisor
The chemistry department offers three basic degree programs: Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Arts in Education. All three programs have a common core of study:
- One year of general chemistry and one year of college-level calculus
- One year of organic chemistry, one year of college physics and one quarter of analytical chemistry
- One year of physical chemistry
This provides the foundation for elective courses in the student’s area of interest. Through choice of degree programs and electives, the student can prepare for careers in industry or government, teaching at the secondary level or further study at the graduate level.
Students planning to major in chemistry or biochemistry or to begin university transfer programs involving chemistry courses are advised to consult the department during the first year to arrange for the proper sequence of courses.
Students planning to transfer to Western after completing two years of college study elsewhere should complete the following program requirements prior to transfer in order to avoid delays in degree work completion. Please be advised, at least 50 percent of required major credits must be obtained at WWU:
- One year of general chemistry
- One year of college-level calculus
- One year of calculus-based college-level physics
Bachelor of Science. The department offers BS programs in chemistry and biochemistry. These are specifically designed for students interested in graduate study or careers in industry and government as laboratory scientists.
Bachelor of Arts. This program provides less intensive training in chemistry but, when combined with a minor in a related area, prepares students for health professions, including medical school, and a variety of career opportunities in fields such as chemical sales and marketing, computational science, science writing (journalism), environmental sciences, or secondary school teaching.
Bachelor of Arts in Education. This program provides several program emphases (chemistry-biology, chemistry-mathematics, and chemistry-physics). Although requirements within these options differ in detail, the three programs are similar enough that the prospective teacher need not choose among them until the sophomore or junior year. Successful graduates are qualified to teach in their areas of concentration at the middle school or high school level. Prospective teachers with qualifications in more than one area will have a distinct advantage in seeking such positions. Detailed descriptions of each of these degree programs and course descriptions are given below.
ProgramsUndergraduate MajorUndergraduate Combined MajorUndergraduate MinorGraduate
Courses numbered X37; X97; 300, 400, 500 are described in the University Academic Policies section of this catalog.