Learning Outcomes

Biochemistry illuminates the fundamental unity of life, through the study of molecules and pathways that are conserved from E. coli to Homo sapiens.

The study of the structures, functions, and interactions between biological molecules forms the focus of the work of biochemists. Biochemistry majors will build and expand their capacity to think, work, and communicate as scientists. Majors will use biochemical knowledge for experimental design, data analysis and interpretation, scientific reports and presentations, and exposure to the research literature. Mastery in these essential areas will prepare biochemistry graduates for graduate study in the health professions or natural sciences, as well as for work in a research environment.

Students who pursue the biochemistry major will participate in upper-level courses addressing the subject of biochemistry after attaining a background in the fundamentals of biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Through their studies, students will gain deep understanding of many of the chemical reactions and structures of biological molecules essential to life on Earth. Course content will include the structure and function of nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates and lipids; enzyme kinetics, mechanism, and inhibition; thermodynamics and equilibria of biochemical reactions; metabolic and cellular signaling pathways; DNA replication, transcription, and translation; and protein folding, synthesis, and processing.

Through their laboratory coursework, biochemistry majors will acquire extensive experience in the practice of science. Students will learn about and perform UV/VIS, IR, and NMR spectroscopy; enzyme-mediated reactions and their kinetics; nucleic acid purification, digestion and electrophoresis; PCR, cloning, and genetic engineering; SDS-PAGE protein electrophoresis and Western blotting; and protein purification. With hands-on exposure to these techniques, students will comprehend how the biochemical principles introduced in the classroom are applied to research questions in the laboratory. Additionally, students may elect to pursue an independent research opportunity in the biology or chemistry departments to further enrich their scientific growth.