Since the 1920s, the Juniata chemistry department has been authorized to certify that specific students have completed an undergraduate program that meets the professional standards established by the American Chemical Society (ACS). The fact that the department can issue these certifications is important in itself, since it shows that the ACS regards our program and facilities as being sound. (Both are subject to periodic review by the Society's Committee on Professional Training, and the standards are strict.) Anyone receiving ACS certification is immediately eligible to join the ACS, whereas others must first serve an on-the-job apprenticeship. In other words, certified graduates are recognized as being full-fledged chemists.
In order to acquire ACS certification, a student must complete all of the courses that the department has determined are necessary to meet the current ACS criteria, which are described in an ACS booklet available from the department chairman. In particular, this means choosing Advanced Inorganic Chemistry (CH 406) as the elective in the chemistry POE. Several other courses, such as Calculus III and a language, are recommended but not required. Certification is by no means mandatory. Neither graduate schools nor employers require it, although the set of courses required for certification is a reasonable guide to what a good undergraduate program in chemistry would include, and careful thought and conversation with one or more faculty members would be warranted before choosing to exclude a recommended course.
All students who intend to become chemists or continue graduate study in related areas are strongly encouraged to participate in chemical research while at Juniata. There are several ways to do this. Many students choose to work in the laboratories of Juniata faculty, some as early as their freshman year. This allows underclassmen to acquire a sort of "research apprenticeship," working alongside a senior or a faculty member on a project in progress. This work can be on a non-credit basis or for credit during the academic year. In the latter case, students sign up for one or more credits of Chemistry Research (CH 190, CH 290 or CH 390). Faculty members have their own section numbers for these research courses. The number of credits and the level of the course is mutually determined by the faculty member and student.
There is also the possibility to start or continue research during the summer at Juniata. Typically, a modest salary is provided for those selected for summer research. Information about such opportunities may be obtained by contacting any faculty member early in the spring semester.
Some students continue on the same project for several years while others switch research groups after a time in order to explore other areas of chemistry. Students who make original contributions to their research projects are listed as co-authors when the results are submitted for publication in professional journals. This achievement obviously looks very good when applying for jobs or professional and graduate schools and should be a goal of students who embark on research.
Many Juniata chemistry and biochemistry POEs spend one or more summers doing research at a university or obtain a summer internship at a company in the US or abroad. The National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsors the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program that provides funding for a summer stipend. Competition for spots in REU programs is significant but our students have been quite successful in obtaining positions. Some of our chemistry alumni who are now university professors accept Juniata students in their labs. Other funding opportunities, including the chance to do research in another country with one of our study abroad exchange partners, also exist. If you are interested in learning more please ask your advisor or one of the other chemistry faculty. Some of these summer projects have been brought back to Juniata where they formed the basis for a senior research project.
Seniors who wish to begin a new research project or continue one they have been working on for some time are strongly encouraged to take the fall-semester course Senior Writing Seminar (CH 492), followed by Senior Thesis (CH 493) in the spring. These two courses are taken along with one or more credits of senior-level research (CH 494) with a specific chemistry faculty mentor. In the fall course students plan a research project of their own (selecting a topic, studying the background, formulating a specific question that needs to be addressed, figuring out how an answer might be obtained) and begin or continue laboratory work. In the spring students complete their research, write a thesis, and present their results at a scientific conference. Each spring up to a dozen Juniata students attend the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society where they make presentations on their research. The senior research course sequence helps students to improve the writing and professional presentation skills necessary for practicing chemists and gives them the opportunity to find out what it is like to be a creative chemist. They are comparable to the internships offered in other disciplines.
For descriptions of some of the research opportunities available in chemistry, see our Research Opportunities page.
In addition to completing their coursework, students intending to graduate with a POE in chemistry are strongly encouraged to engage in a POE-relevant professional experience. This could include an internship, summer research (here or elsewhere), work as a teaching assistant (for more than one semester), student teaching (for Chem-Ed students), work under the supervision of a health professional (for pre-Health students), senior research, or some other POE-related activity acceptable to the department. We are not referring here to a one-time event, but a significant experience equivalent to at least a three-credit course. Consult with your advisor to ensure that you graduate with a truly relevant experience.
Distinction in Chemistry
To receive distinction, students must satisfy the following:
- Earn a 3.0 or better in POE courses at the end of the junior year
- Apply to the department chair during the fall of their senior year
- Score a minimum of the 50th percentile on the chemistry portion of the GRE or earn a comparable grade on another standardized test of cumulative chemistry knowledge identified as an acceptable alternative by the department (e.g. ETS)
- Present and defend a thesis before a committee of three (or more) faculty
The degree to which one follows safe laboratory practices is a primary indication of one's competence. The chemistry department takes safety very seriously. Juniata has codified our procedures for maintaining safe laboratory environments in a Chemical Hygiene Plan. All chemistry students must be familiar with this plan and adhere to its requirements. Juniata Laboratory Safety Training is provided at the beginning of the first chemistry laboratory courses, Organic Chemistry I Laboratory (CH116) and Physical and Inorganic Chemistry I Laboratory (CH114). Additional training is provided during upper level courses.
One key aspect of safety is neatness (i.e., “a clean lab is a safe lab”). For this reason we are determined to do everything possible to maintain neatness in our labs. One way this can be accomplished is to tie a portion of the grade of a lab course directly to the neatness of a student's activities, as well as to the neatness of the lab as a whole. Our experience shows that this policy substantially improves the cleanliness and livability of our facilities.
Eye safety is of critical importance in a chemical laboratory. Department policy is that safety glasses will be worn at all times in all labs, including the stockroom.
Each student with a chemistry POE is required to attend a minimum of four chemistry seminars during a term in which the student in enrolled in a chemistry course numbered 300 or higher. The Chemistry Department normally sponsors about two such seminars per month. One can also attend seminars at other nearby institutions (realistically, Penn State) or at local ACS Section meetings. For seminars given outside the department, a brief written summary of acceptable quality must be submitted to the instructor. Failure to complete this requirement will result in a grade of incomplete for the course.
The chemistry department strongly supports the college's foreign study programs. Please visit our Study Abroad page for more information.