Programs of Study

Undergraduate Studies in Chemistry

 
A degree in chemistry will indeed prepare you for life.  Whether you are interested in law, medicine, pharmaceuticals, etc., a chemistry degree will provide you with the skills necessary to excel in many disciplines.

Nanotechnology lab at TU

Nanobattery Research

University of Tulsa professors and students are making nanobatteries so small that special research equipment is needed to visualize and characterize them.

Dale Teeters, professor and chemistry department chair, has received approximately $530,000 from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and $120,000 from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to advance his research in nanotechnology, or the study of matter on the atomic or nano level. 



The federal and state grants will fund three years of nanotechnology research at TU and will support a research team made up of two graduate students, two undergraduate students, and one post-doctoral fellow.



Teeters, who holds a patent for a nanobattery manufacturing process, has developed batteries so small that 240 of them can fit across a human hair. At this tiny scale, Teeters said that technology improvements are possible to greatly increase battery capacity for use in anything from cell phones and laptop computers to fuel cells that can generate electricity in remote locations.



When compared with the growth of computing power, advancements in battery technology has lagged, Teeters said. The new funding will allow him to use a nanoscale approach to solve technical problems that have inhibited the vast improvement of batteries for more than a decade.



"New ideas are needed to push battery performance to the next level, and nanotechnology may be the answer to the current technical obstacles," Teeters said. "This area of research has so much potential to impact how we store energy, and I’m excited to be a part of it."



While today’s “gold standard” technology is the lithium ion battery, Teeters said the lithium polymer electrolyte battery has the potential for even greater capacity. However, there are major electrochemical problems that must be solved if these battery systems are to achieve even higher performance, and Teeters will focus his research in this area. 



"Work at TU, such as Professor Teeters’ nanobattery project, is indicative of our excellence in research and adds to our reputation for advancing cutting-edge technology," said Steven Bellovich, dean of the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences. 



Teeters will also lead the TU Nanotechnology Institute, an interdisciplinary initiative, along with Theodore Manikas, assistant professor of electrical engineering. The institute will explore the vast opportunities for technological progress through nanotechnology. Some research topics include increasing the memory capacity in computers through nanobatteries, developing advanced sensor technology, creating efficient power sources, like fuel cells, and strengthening metals, plastics and other materials through engineering at the atomic scale (also called nanostructured materials).

Curriculum

All of the curricula in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry emphasize laboratory experience and culminate in a senior research project.  This active involvement in the field provides experiences and a learning environment designed to stress both the conceptual basis and the experimental nature of the discipline.

The department offers three options for students interested in the fields of chemistry or biochemistry.  The B. A. degree provides the opportunity to develop a broad background in chemistry within the framework of a liberal arts education.  It is appropriate for students who wish to understand the basics but do not anticipate a career as a research chemist.

The B.S. degree consists of courses in chemistry, physics, mathematics, writing and humanities.  The curricula provide a firm foundation for graduate or advanced professional study.  Two degrees are available:  a B.S. in chemistry and a B.S. in biochemistry.  With appropriate selection of electives, both programs lead to a degree certified by the American Chemical Society.  The B.S. in chemistry can be tailored to suit interests in environmental, advanced materials, applied, health (pharmaceutical), as well as traditional chemistry.   The B.S. in biochemistry emphasizes chemistry and biology at the molecular level.  It is well suited to students who anticipate graduate work in the biochemical or health sciences, or plan to pursue a professional degree program (medical or dental).

Students from other disciplines may minor in chemistry, which consists of General Chemistry I and II with laboratories (CHEM 1011, 1013,1021, and 1023), Organic Chemistry I and II with laboratories (CHEM 3011, 3013, 3021, and 3023) plus eight credit hours of additional chemistry courses at the 2000 level or above.

Students seeking secondary teacher certification in chemistry must also complete requirements for a second major in education.  In addition, teacher certification requires proficiency in a second language at the novice level.

Learning Environment

Chemistry majors receive individual attention that a small, more intimate learning environment encourages. Laboratory sections have no more than 30 students, even at the introductory level, and include many hands-on opportunities. As Michael Detwiler, a recent TU graduate notes, "It's an ideal situation. You can be sure that you won't have to wait in line to talk to a chemistry professor about a problem".

Because classes are small, students have the time and opportunity to use instruments such as Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometers and Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometers. This provides both hands-on experience to solve problems and is invaluable to students when they enter the job market or begin graduate programs.

Facilities

The Chemistry Department, housed in Keplinger Hall, has a wide variety of teaching and research laboratories. Modern labs for analytical, organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry are located on the main level of Keplinger Hall, the $15-million, 136,000-square-foot home of the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences.

Student Life

Students are encouraged to join the student-affiliate chapter of the American Chemical Society, an organization that fosters camaraderie among students and provides an opportunity to attend scientific meetings, present research papers, visit local industrial plants and laboratories, and meet with local scientists. In collaboration with the local section of the society, the department hosts an active program of national speakers. In past years, a few of the topics have included the mechanism of vision, analysis of lead in drinking water, and humor in chemistry.

Professional Opportunities

Chemistry knowledge is basic to many of the new careers opening in the twenty-first century. The demand for chemistry professionals has grown considerably over the past decade for many reasons.  Environmental concerns are a priority in industry, and chemistry offers the information essential for involvement in work ranging from hazardous waste management to greenhouse climate changes.  Many students prepare for careers in medicine or other health sciences by completing an undergraduate degree in chemistry. Development of new materials has sometimes been called the silent technical revolution, and chemistry lies at the heart of this exciting area.

Many University of Tulsa chemistry graduates have continued in nationally recognized graduate programs. Recent graduates have been successful in Ph.D. programs at schools including Harvard, Minnesota, Ohio State, the University of Texas at Austin, and Illinois. Suzanne Stewart Black, a 1987 graduate who recently completed her Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry at Harvard, found that the preparation she received was solid, and stated, "Knowing as much as I did about research helped me get through my graduate course work".

Research Opportunities

As an undergraduate chemistry student at the University of Tulsa, you should give careful consideration to The Chemistry Summer Undergraduate Research Program.  This program provides students with an amazing opportunity to participate in cutting edge research.  Inquiries should be directed to Dr. Gordon Purser.