Chemistry and Biochemistry

Mission Statement

The mission of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Program at the University of Rio Grande is to provide a stimulating and positive environment for the discovery, integration, and communication of chemistry and biology. Whether a career in the chemical or biochemical sciences is desired or the pursuit of graduate or professional studies is preferred, students are prepared for future endeavors by rigorous intellectual stimulation, the development of practical laboratory skills, and the provision of opportunities for scholarly research. This environment of intellectual inquiry and professional growth is supported by the faculty’s commitment to teaching, research, and service, and is underscored by following the guidelines of the American Chemical Society as well as the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Also this program complements the mission of the University, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Natural & Social Sciences by contributing to the scientific and technological literacy, critical thinking skills and informed decision-making abilities of students from all fields and from all walks of life.

Learning Outcomes

The successful student is able to:​

  • Demonstrate problem-solving skills to provide solutions to theoretical and experimental problems in biochemistry.
  • Apply the fundamental concepts of the foundational concepts of biochemistry: energy & matter transformation, macromolecular structure & function, and biological information.
  • Utilize various measuring techniques in the laboratory to perform accurate and precise quantitative measurements.
  • Effectively interpret and communicate experimental results.
  • Utilize computers to support the learning and practice of biochemistry (data acquisition and analysis, access to information, preparation of reports, and molecular modeling and bioinformatics).
  • Explain the relevance of chemistry and biochemistry to other fields and society.
  • Demonstrate scientific literacy and professional ethics.

Future Students

Why Pursue a Degree in Chemistry at Rio Grande?

  • Small class sizes; therefore, more personalized attention
  • Among the lowest tuition for a four year private education in the state
  • Research-oriented curriculum prepares students for graduate and professional school as well as chemical industry
  • 100% student acceptance into graduate and professional schools
  • Immediate employment for graduates entering chemistry-related jobs
  • U.S. Department of Labor projects an increase in job opportunities for chemists over the next 10 years
  • Payscale.com lists chemistry and chemical engineering positions among the top of starting salary pay scales
  • Chemistry majors are well prepared for the MCAT and PCAT
  • Please visit the American Chemical Society’s College to Career website to find out more about jobs in chemistry

The Rio chemistry program is absolutely one of a kind. Personable teaching lessons, multiple research opportunities, and the excellent faculty have best prepared me for my graduate studies.

Andrea Merry

The small class sizes and dedicated faculty really gave me the tools to get a great career right out of school.

Jacob Dotson

The program offered at URG fosters a comprehensive review of all aspects of chemistry. My chemistry knowledge was greatly developed, allowing me to actively pursue a PhD.

Kristopher Kleski

Where Have Rio Grande Graduates Been Accepted for Graduate or Professional School?
  • Louisiana State University
  • Marshall University
  • Marshall University School of Pharmacy
  • Midwestern University College of Pharmacy – Glendale
  • Ohio Northern University College of Pharmacy
  • The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy
  • Ohio University
  • Ohio University Heritage College of Medicine
  • Wingate University School of Pharmacy
  • University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy
  • University of Florida
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of Toledo
Where Have Rio Grande Graduates Been Hired?
  • Aptalis
  • Battelle
  • Boehringer Ingelheim Roxane Laboratories
  • Calgon Carbon Corporation
  • Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood
  • Gallipolis City Schools
  • Holzer Medical Center
  • Jackson City Schools
  • Lancaster City Schools
  • M & G Polymers
  • Ohio Precious Metals
  • Ohio Valley Electric Corporation – Kyger Creek Plant
  • Sasol Chemicals (USA)
  • The Scotts Company
  • Shell Oil Company
  • TCCI Laboratories
  • Union Carbide Corporation
  • United States Enrichment Corporation – Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant
  • Velocys

Job and Graduate Studies Opportunities

Major in biochemistry prepares students for a wide array of post-baccalaureate directions. Biochemistry graduates are well suited to pursue graduate studies in a variety of chemical sciences (e.g., agricultural, analytical, biochemistry, environmental, forensic, inorganic,   medicinal, organic, physical, and polymer), engineering, and pharmacology. Majoring in biochemistry also prepares students to enter professional school such as medical, pharmacy, or law school. Besides graduate or professional school, majoring in chemistry will  prepare students to obtain immediate employment in chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing/sales, research and development, or environmental laboratories upon graduation.

Research

2006-2007

Josh Crosier, Soil Chemistry, with Dr. Jacob J. White

  • White, J.; Crosier, J. Determination of soluble phosphorous content in black walnut husk compost via formation of molybdenum blue. Ohio J. Sci. 2010, 110 (4), 94-95.
2009-2010

Samantha J. Yelley, Computational Studies with RNA, with Dr. John A. Means

  • Yelley, S. J.; Means, J. A.; Hines, J. V. Computational Docking of Small Molecules with a Bacillus subtilis T box Antiterminator Model RNA. Presented at the Rustbelt RNA Meeting, Deer Creek State Park, Mt. Sterling, OH, October 16-17, 2009; Poster 81.
  • Yelley, S. J.; Means, J. A. Flipping the Riboswitch: A Computational Approach to Drug Design. Presented at the University of Rio Grande, Rio Grande, OH, April 28, 2010; Talk.
2010-2011

Clarence E. Barnes, Jr., Computational Screening of Potential Antibiotics, with Dr. John A. Means

Andrea D. Merry, Effects of Surface Coal Mining on Stream Water Chemistry in Raccoon Creek Watershed, with Dr. Jacob J. White

  • Hopkins II, R. L.; Altier, B. M.; Haselman, D.; Merry, A. D.; White, J. J. Exploring the legacy effects of surface coal mining on stream chemistry. Hydrobiologia 2013, 713 (1), 87-95.
2011-2012

Bradley M. Altier, Aquatic Chemistry and Analysis of Lead in Well Water, with Dr. Jacob J. White

  • Hopkins II, R. L.; Altier, B. M.; Haselman, D.; Merry, A. D.; White, J. J. Exploring the legacy effects of surface coal mining on stream chemistry. Hydrobiologia 2013, 713 (1), 87-95.
  • Altier, B. M.; White, J. J. Matrix Effect in the Analysis of Lead in Well Water via Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy. Presented at the 121st Annual Meeting of The Ohio Academy of Science, Ashland University, Ashland, OH, April 14, 2012; Poster 043.

Logan E. Brushart, Virtual Screening of Potential Antibiotics, with Dr. John A. Means

  • Brushart, L. E.; Means, J. A. Virtual Screening of Molecular Libraries for Potential Antibiotics. Presented at the University of Rio Grande School of Sciences Seminar Series, Rio Grande, OH, April 20, 2012; Talk.

Sheri L. Marcum, pH Effects on Oxygen Binding with Myoglobin and Development of an Enzyme Kinetics Lab, with Dr. John A. Means

  • Marcum, S. L.; Means, J. A. pH Effects on the Rate Constant for the Reaction of Mb-CO with O2. Presented at the 121st Annual Meeting of The Ohio Academy of Science, Ashland University, Ashland, OH, April 14, 2012; Poster 045.
  • Marcum, S. L.; Means, J. A. Development of an Enzyme Kinetics Lab for the Upper-level Biochemistry Laboratory. Presented at the University of Rio Grande School of Sciences Seminar Series, Rio Grande, OH, April 20, 2012; Talk.

Andrea D. Merry, Determination of Caloric Content of “Zero Calorie” Artificial Sweetners, with Prof. Tim E. Hall

  • Merry, A. D.; Hall, T. E. Determination of Caloric Content of “Zero Calorie” Artificial Sweetners via Bomb Calorimetry. Presented at the 121st Annual Meeting of The Ohio Academy of Science, Ashland University, Ashland, OH, April 14, 2012; Poster 044.

Whitney C. Smith, Characterization of the Temperature-Dependent Nature of the Photocatalytic Decomposition of Congo Red Using Zinc Oxide, with Dr. Jacob J. White

  • Smith, W. C.; White, J. J. Characterization of the Temperature-Dependent Nature of the Photocatalytic Decomposition of Congo Red Using Zinc Oxide. Presented at the 121st Annual Meeting of The Ohio Academy of Science, Ashland University, Ashland, OH, April 14, 2012; Poster 046.
  • White, J.; Smith, W. A Brief Note on the Temperature-Dependent Photocatalytic Degradation of Congo Red Using Zinc Oxide. Am. J. Water Resour. 2013, 1 (4), 66-69.
2012-2013

Bradley M. Altier, Determination of Lead Accumulation in Chelydra serpentina of the Southeast Ohio Region, with Dr. Jacob J. White

  • Smith, W. C.; Altier, B. M.; White, J. J. Correlating the Accumulation of Environmental Contaminants Found in Chelydra serpentina of Southeast Ohio with Carapace Dimensions. Presented at the 122nd Annual Meeting of The Ohio Academy of Science, University of Findlay, Findlay, OH, April 6, 2013; Poster 007 (Afternoon Session).

Sheri L. Marcum, Determination of Gram-positive Bacterial Susceptibility to Synthetic and Natural Products, with Dr. John A. Means

  • Marcum, S. L.; Merry, A. D.; Diehl, A. N.; Evans, D. M.; Means, J. A. Potential Antimicrobial Activity of Herbs and Various Small Molecules Utilizing Kirby-Bauer Disc Diffusion Assays. Presented at the 122nd Annual Meeting of The Ohio Academy of Science, University of Findlay, Findlay, OH, April 6, 2013; Poster 010 (Morning Session).

Andrea D. Merry, Virtual Screening of Small Molecule Libraries for Binding with an RNA Target, with Dr. John A. Means

  • Merry, A. D.; Means, J. A. Computational Biomolecular Docking: Virtual Screening of RNA Targets for Potential Antibiotics. Presented at the 122nd Annual Meeting of The Ohio Academy of Science, University of Findlay, Findlay, OH, April 6, 2013; Poster 011 (Morning Session).

Whitney C. Smith, Determination of Heavy Metal Accumulation in Chelydra serpentina of the Southeast Ohio Region, with Dr. Jacob J. White

  • Smith, W. C.; Altier, B. M.; White, J. J. Correlating the Accumulation of Environmental Contaminants Found in Chelydra serpentina of Southeast Ohio with Carapace Dimensions. Presented at the 122nd Annual Meeting of The Ohio Academy of Science, University of Findlay, Findlay, OH, April 6, 2013; Poster 007 (Afternoon Session).
2013-2014

Jacob L. Dotson, Inhibition of Aromatase with Naturally Occurring Polyphenols, with Dr. John A. Means

  • Dotson, J. L; Means, J. A. Inhibiting Aromatase with Naturally Occurring and Readily Available Dietary Polyphenols. Presented at the 123rd Annual Meeting of The Ohio Academy of Science, Walsh University, North Canton, OH, April 5, 2014; Poster 056 (Morning Session).

Kristopher A. Kleski, Computational Binding Assays and Synthetic Routes to Derivatives of Potential Antibiotics, with Prof. Tim E. Hall and Dr. John A. Means

  • Kleski, K. A.; Merry, A. D.; Marcum, S. L.; Means, J. A.; Hall, T. E. Computational Binding Assays and Synthetic Routes to Derivatives of Potential Antibiotics. Presented at the 123rd Annual Meeting of The Ohio Academy of Science, Walsh University, North Canton, OH, April 5, 2014; Poster 025 (Morning Session).

Kristopher A. Kleski, Quantum Dot Reaction Kinetics: Determining the Color of the Dot with Reaction Time, with Dr. Kimball Clark

  • Kleski, K. A.; Clark, K. Quantum Dot Reaction Kinetics: Determining the Color of the Dot with Reaction Time. Presented at the 123rd Annual Meeting of The Ohio Academy of Science, Walsh University, North Canton, OH, April 5, 2014; Poster 026 (Morning Session).

Michael MacKnight, The Accumulation of Lead and Mercury in Chelydra serpentina of the Southeast Ohio Region, with Dr. Jacob White

  • MacKnight, M. A.; Smith, W. C.; Altier, B. M.; White, J. J. Correlation of Bioaccumulated Environmental Contaminants with Carapace Dimensions in the Common Snapping Turtle of the Southeast Ohio Region. Presented at the 123rd Annual Meeting of The Ohio Academy of Science, Walsh University, North Canton, OH, April 5, 2014; Poster 022 (Morning Session).
2014-2015

Gavin M. James, Linking Polyphenol Structure to Aromatase Inhibition, with Dr. John A. Means

  • James, G. M.; Means, J. A. Structure and Scores in Simulations and Screenings: Inhibiting Aromatase with Flavones. Presented at the 124th Annual Meeting of the Ohio Academy of Science, Capital University, Columbus, OH, April 11, 2015; Poster 026 (Afternoon Session).
  • James, G. M.; Means, J. A. Structure and Scores in Simulations and Screenings: Inhibiting Aromatase with Flavones. Presented at R↑SE: The University of Rio Grande’s Research & Scholarship Exhibition, University of Rio Grande, Rio Grande, OH, April 16, 2015; Poster.

Michael E. Parcell, Identification and Verification of Potential Antibiotics Using Virtual Screening and Fluorescence Binding Assays, with Dr. John A. Means

  • Parcell, M. E.; Means, J. A. Discovery of New Compounds to Flip the Riboswitch. Presented at the 124th Annual Meeting of the Ohio Academy of Science, Capital University, Columbus, OH, April 11, 2015; Poster 028 (Afternoon Session).
  • Parcell, M. E.; Means, J. A. Discovery of New Compounds to Flip the Riboswitch. Presented at R↑SE: The University of Rio Grande’s Research & Scholarship Exhibition, University of Rio Grande, Rio Grande, OH, April 16, 2015; Poster.

2015-2016

Halley J. Alberts, Computational Docking of Polyphenols with Aromatase, with Dr. John A. Means

  • Alberts, H. J.; Means, J. A. Steps Toward Treating Breast Cancer: A Computational Study of Aromatase Inhibition with Flavones. Presented at the 125th Annual Meeting of the Ohio Academy of Science, Ohio University, Athens, OH, April 16, 2016; College and Professional Poster 010.

Halley J. Alberts, Determination of Biodiesel Energy Content with Bomb Calorimetry, with Prof. Tim E. Hall

  • Alberts, H. J.; Hall, T. E. More Bank for Your Buck! An Energy Analysis of Various Biodiesels. Presented at R↑SE: The University of Rio Grande’s Research & Scholarship Exhibition, University of Rio Grande, Rio Grande, OH, April 14, 2016; Poster.

Kimberly C. Costilow, Effects of Matrix Modifiers for Lead AA Analysis, with Dr. Jacob J. White

  • Costilow, K. C.; White, J. J. Examining the Effects of a Matrix Modifier on Measured Signals for Lead Using GF-AA Spectroscopy. Presented at R↑SE: The University of Rio Grande’s Research & Scholarship Exhibition, University of Rio Grande, Rio Grande, OH, April 14, 2016; Poster.

Aaron M. Landrum, Determination of Binding between Myelin and IL-6 as Potential Contributor to Demyelination in Transverse Myelitis, with Dr. John A. Means

  • Landrum, A. M.; Means, J. A. Determining whether IL-6 Binds with Myelin to Potentially Cause Demyelination in Transverse Myelitis. Presented at R↑SE: The University of Rio Grande’s Research & Scholarship Exhibition, University of Rio Grande, Rio Grande, OH, April 14, 2016; Poster.
  • Landrum, A. M.; Means, J. A. Determining whether IL-6 Binds with Myelin to Potentially Cause Demyelination in Transverse Myelitis. Presented at the 125th Annual Meeting of the Ohio Academy of Science, Ohio University, Athens, OH, April 16, 2016; College and Professional Poster 011.

Andrew C. Lawrence, Stability of Polyphenols in Digestive Environments, with Dr. John A. Means

  • Lawrence, A. C.; Means, J. A. The Resilience of Polyphenols in Simulated Gastric Fluids. Presented at R↑SE: The University of Rio Grande’s Research & Scholarship Exhibition, University of Rio Grande, Rio Grande, OH, April 14, 2016; Poster.
  • Lawrence, A. C.; Means, J. A. Stability of Polyphenols in Simulated Human Digestion. Presented at the 125th Annual Meeting of the Ohio Academy of Science, Ohio University, Athens, OH, April 16, 2016; College and Professional Poster 012.

Grants

Pittsburgh Conference Memorial National College Grant, Inclusion of Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy in the School of Sciences Curriculum, $10,000, February 2011, Dr. Jacob White

Ohio Board of Regents, Rio Connection: Expanding the Vision in Science, $100,000, February 2009-June 2010, Dr. Jacob White

Southeast Ohio Center for Excellence in Mathematics and Science, Molecular Visualization as a Learning Aid for Biochemistry Students, $4,200, November 2008-May 2009, Dr. John Means

Southeast Ohio Center for Excellence in Mathematics and Science, STEM Internship Program, $63,450, May 2008-August  2010, Dr. Jacob White

Southeast Ohio Center for Excellence in Mathematics and Science, STEM Teaching and Learning Program, $28,500, May 2008-August 2010, Dr. Jacob White

Ohio Department of Education, Rio Connection: Improving Mathematics and Science Teaching, $818,350, March 2007-June 2010, Dr. Jacob White

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to take chemistry or biology courses during my first year at Rio Grande?

If you have any interest in majoring in Biochemistry, you should enroll in General Chemistry I & II and Biology I & II during your first year.

Should I take Principles of Chemistry before I take General Chemistry I? Should I take Principles of Biology before I take Biology I?

Students who are majoring in the sciences should NOT take Principles of Chemistry before taking General Chemistry I or Principles of Biology before taking Biology I. All of these courses are introductory-level chemistry or biology courses and cover many of the same topics. Principles of Chemistry and Principles of Biology are directed toward non-science majors, focusing more on chemistry and biology concepts. General Chemistry I and Biology I are directed toward science majors and covers these topics at a deeper level than do the Principles courses.

How many students will be in my chemistry/biology classes and labs?

General Chemistry I and Biology I typically have the largest enrollment (as many as 30 students), while upper-level chemistry and biology courses will have much smaller enrollments. All chemistry and biology labs are capped at 24 students.

How do chemistry classes at Rio Grande compare with other schools?

Students who complete the General Chemistry sequence are performing at or above national norms, as demonstrated with American Chemical Society standardized exams.

How much math is required for the B.S. in Biochemistry?

The A.S. in Chemistry requires students to complete Calculus I and Calculus II. Depending upon a student’s high school preparation, Precalculus may be required while taking General Chemistry I. Since the B.S. in Biochemistry is a 2+2 with the A.S. in Chemistry, then students would need to complete the requirements for the A.S. as part of the completion of the B.S. in Biochemistry.

Why do I have to complete the A.S. in Chemistry if I just want to get the B.S. in Biochemistry?

The B.S. in Biochemistry is constructed as a 2+2 program with the A.S. in Chemistry. Ideally, a student would complete the A.S. in Chemistry during his or her first two years at Rio Grande and then complete the B.S. in Biochemistry during her or his last two years at Rio Grande. The programs were designed this way so that students who transfer from other community colleges or start at Rio Grande can complete the degree more efficiently.

What kind of technology will I get to use in the Biochemistry program at Rio Grande?

Students will be trained to use a variety of instruments that are common in chemistry and biochemistry laboratories (please see the Chemistry Facilities webpage for a list of these instruments). In addition, the Chemistry Department has access to 16 Dell desktop computers in the School of Sciences computer laboratory and Dell desktop computers that are in the chemistry laboratories.

What kind of computer technology is available at Rio Grande?

Rio Grande has a high-speed fiber-based network that provides excellent internet bandwidth (including Internet2 connectivity). RioNET Wireless is available in every building. For more information regarding computer technology at Rio Grande, please visit the Campus Computing & Networking site.

Will I get to do any research?

All Biochemistry majors at Rio Grande are required to complete a research project during their final year in the program. Students also have the opportunity (and are encouraged) to participate in research opportunities prior to their final year at Rio Grande.

Are there any scholarships that I can get for being a Biochemistry major?

Rio Grande has the Choose Ohio First scholarship for outstanding STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) majors as well as a variety of named scholarships for science majors. The Chemistry and Biochemistry Department also awards merit-based scholarships to students who are majoring in Chemistry and Biochemistry at Rio Grande.

Facilities

The Kidd Math/Science Center opened in 1985. With an award-winning masonry design, the center’s front doors open to a glass atrium with live plants & a trickling pond. A spacious lobby follows with comfortable studying facilities. The center houses three large chemistry labs, three biology labs, one physics lab, one computer lab, lecture rooms, faculty offices and a large bent glass greenhouse that enhances the view of campus. McKenzie Hall opened in 1997, and it provides math/science students, along with the nursing students, two large lecture halls, a variety of lecture rooms, an anatomy lab, three computer labs, faculty offices and a conference room with a beautiful view of campus and the surrounding landscape.

Degree Requirements

Bachelor of Science – Biochemistry (2351)
Associate of Science – Chemistry (2421)

DescriptionCredits
General Education (must include)38
ENG 11103 (TM) Composition I3
ENG 11203 (TM) Composition II3
Arts & Humanities Group II Course3
Arts & Humanities Group III Course3
Social Sciences Group I Course3
Social Sciences Group II Course3
LA 10001 Gateway to Success1
CHM 15005 (TAG) General Chemistry I5
CHM 15505 (TAG) General Chemistry II5
MTH 15105 (TM) Calculus I5
MTH 15204 Calculus II4
DescriptionCredits
Major Area required hours24
BIO 12204 Biology II4
CHM 26202 (TAG) Organic Chemistry Laboratory I2
CHM 26303 (TAG) Organic Chemistry Theory I3
CHM 27202 (TAG) Organic Chemistry Laboratory II2
CHM 27303 (TAG) Organic Chemistry Theory II3
PHY 17505 General Physics I with Algebra or PHY 20505 General Physics I with Calculus5
PHY 18505 General Physics II with Algebra or PHY 21505 General Physics II with Calculus5
Total required hours for degree62

Faculty

General Contact Information

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