Stefan Debbert (Professor of Chemistry)

Biochemistry is the study of biological phenomena at the molecular level. Specifically, the scientific principles explored in chemistry and physics are related to the biology of organisms or communities of organisms.

Although scientists have been fascinated with the molecules that compose living organisms for more than 200 years, biochemistry was finally recognized as a discipline at the beginning of the 20th century, as scientists strove to understand nutrition and metabolism in the context of human disease. Modern biochemistry is a vast subject that has applications to medicine, dentistry, agriculture, forensics, toxicology, pharmacy, anthropology, environmental science, and other fields.

Biochemistry is a dynamic and highly technical field. A degree in biochemistry presents students with many options for careers or advanced study. The biochemistry major will prepare students for graduate study in biochemistry (or allied fields such as bacteriology, genetics, or oncology) as well as for many pre-professional programs of study.

The biochemistry curriculum includes a strong foundation in the basic sciences, core courses central to the field, and electives that enable students to explore aspects of biochemistry in sub-fields of their choice. Most courses include an intensive laboratory experience, supported by equipment in biology, chemistry, and physics. Experimental work becomes progressively more sophisticated and creative in advanced courses as students gain insight to the primary literature and cutting-edge laboratory techniques. Students are strongly encouraged to engage in summer research, either in an academic setting—at Lawrence or another institution—or in industry.

The vision of a biochemistry Senior Experience is best described by a report by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation Goes to College. A biochemistry major at graduation should be an “intentional learner who can adapt to new environments, integrate knowledge from different sources, and continue learning throughout their life. They should also become empowered learners through the mastery of intellectual and practical skills by learning to effectively communicate orally, and in writing; understand and employ quantitative and qualitative analysis to solve problems; interpret and evaluate information from a variety of sources; understand and work within complex systems; demonstrate intellectual agility and the ability to manage change; transform information into knowledge and knowledge into judgment and action.”

The biochemistry major is highly compatible and complementary with the neuroscience program and a number of minors including biology, biomedical ethics, chemistry, environmental studies, and computer science. This flexibility allows a student in the major to consider and prepare for a multitude of career options.

Collaborative Research

Katie Mueller '16

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