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Data Based Decisions

The American Chemical Society issued a report in 2013 recommending increased multidisciplinary training of doctoral students and better preparation for workplace ‘soft’ skills.  Program-wide changes and other actions undertaken as a result are given below. 


The core courses for the graduate biochemistry program were transitioned during 2014 – 2015 into a series of 1 to 2-credit modules.  Chem 6710 was replaced by a set of three, 1-credit modules:  Chem 6720 (Enzymology); Chem 6760 (Bioenergetics); and Chem 6740 (Cell processes).  Chem 6700 was replaced by a 2-credit module on Biochemical Methods and a 1-credit module on Structure of Biomolecules.  These changes allow graduate students greater flexibility in creating their programs of study, and also offer senior undergraduates more options for completing elective requirements. 


The divisional rule for major professors was relaxed in 2013.  It is now required to only have two faculty from the Division in which the student is seeking the degree.  Whether a student follows the curriculum for a particular chemistry division (analytical, inorganic, organic, or physical) is determined by the nature of the project, rather than the formal teaching division of the major professor.  A biochemistry or chemistry faculty member may serve as major professor to a student working toward either graduate degree, if the research project is appropriate to the degree.  This change gives graduate students greater options for pursuing interdisciplinary coursework programs and research projects.


In 2013 the department hosted a 2-day workshop designed to help graduate students prepare job application materials, and to familiarize them with the expectations of chemists in both academic and industrial positions.  This workshop, “Preparing for Life After Graduate School,” is organized and staffed by the American Chemical Society.  It included a series of presentations by people with industrial and academic experience, and a workshop to give students feedback on draft application materials (resumes, cover letters), and mock interviews.  Attendance was excellent (nearly the entire graduate student body, including first-year students, and postdocs).  In the summer of 2015 a similar, 1-day workshop was held.