Advising for a Biochemistry Major
As is the case in choosing any major, prospective biochemistry majors should consider the short-term and long-term goals they have for themselves, as well as what the kinds of material they enjoy learning and the kinds of activities they most enjoy undertaking. Biochemists work to understand the molecular-level interactions of life.
Some questions that might help you determine whether a biochemistry major is a good fit include:
• Do I want to know how living cells work?
• Am I interested in how non-living molecules (such as DNA, proteins, and lipids) work together to create life?
• Do I enjoy lab science and want to develop these skills further?
If you answer yes to these questions, a biochemistry major might be a good fit for you! Remember that a biochemistry major at a liberal arts college does not mean that you must want to be a professional biochemist (though that would be pretty cool). Biochemistry majors go on to earn degrees in pharmacy, medicine, or law and they can work in industry, sales, or do anything else that liberal arts graduates can do with excellent problem-solving skills!
Students who want to major in biochemistry are well served to begin with one, two, or three introductory science courses (Biology 130, Chemistry 115 & 116), ideally in the freshman year. We recommend that freshmen begin in term 1 with whichever course is in their area of strength to ease the adjustment to college level science learning.
The biochemistry major builds your skills through course work in organic chemistry (which requires chemistry 116 as a prerequisite), physics, calculus, statistics in a scientific context, molecular biology, and 2 courses in biochemistry. The rest of the major is composed of elective courses from the biology and chemistry departments as well as a few others. The senior experience from either department will serve this major. See the catalog of your matriculation year for specific course requirements for the major. Work with your advisor to choose electives that best suit your goals and that build your skills.
Advice for Biochemistry Majors Planning Pre-Health Careers: Students who are planning to apply to medical school must take Biology 170 or math-based statistics as well as Organic Chemistry II. Prior to taking the MCAT, students must complete Chem 340 as well as physics and at least 2 courses in biology (plus social science courses), thus it is important to start the chemistry sequence early. Math is not a component of the MCAT. Please see a pre-med advisor early in your Lawrence career to structure your course work effectively. These advisors are: Matt Ansfield, Stefan Debbert, Beth De Stasio, Douglas Martin, and Nancy Wall.
Introductory course placement: Students interested in taking an introductory chemistry course (Chem 115 or 116) require permission from that course’s instructor to register. A placement test available on Moodle will help both instructor and student determine which introductory course is the appropriate starting point; details and instructions concerning that placement test can be found at http://www.lawrence.edu/academics/study/chemistry/placement. Most students who have taken the AP Chemistry exam in high school will start with Chem 116; a score of 4 or higher on that exam will entitle the student to college credit for Chem 115.
Biology 130 is expected of all students. There is an exemption exam available during new student week or from the biology department chair (Dr. Jodi Sedlock in 2016-2017) at other times of year for returning students. Incoming freshmen are best served to register for the course and change registration after the exam if necessary. The biology exemption exam should be taken only by students who have had two or more years of rigorous high school biology coursework.
Biochemistry advisors reside in the biology, chemistry, and physics departments. Feel free to contact any of us for more information.
Stefan Debbert, Steitz Hall 233
Elizabeth (Beth) De Stasio, Steitz Hall 331, Program Chair in 2015-2016
Kimberly (Kim) Dickson, Steitz Hall 334, Program Chair in 2016-2017
Douglas Martin, Youngchild Hall 106