Professor and two students in lab apparel consider a beaker.

Academic Major Spotlight on: Chemistry

Finding your place as an Agnes Scott chemist

Agnes Scott’s chemistry major is set apart from chemistry majors at other institutions. As Professor Sarah Winget says, “Chemistry is often male-dominated at other institutions, so it is great that women get to be the voices of chemistry at Agnes Scott.”

Chemistry sticks out in other ways as well, however, including in the success that Agnes Scott chemistry graduates find. Students in the chemistry major are prepared for fields related to chemistry, with graduates working as lab technicians, physician researchers, process engineers, researchers and forensic scientists. However, majors have also found themselves in fields such as patent law, pharmaceutical research and data analysis. It’s a true liberal arts experience.

Agnes Scott’s chemistry curriculum doesn’t allow you to become hyper-focused on just chemistry. You get a foundation in all scientific disciplines no matter your major, which opens many doors for you in the future.
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Abby Peters '22
Chemistry Major

Want to learn more about the chemistry majors? Here are a few key facts about the major, straight from chemistry major Abby Peters ‘22.

Headshot of Abby Peters

What do you do in a chemistry major?

According to Abby, you are studying the universe itself. “Chemistry is the study of the matter that makes up the whole universe. We look at how it reacts, how it combines, how it breaks apart and how it works.” In addition to studying, well, life and the universe itself, chemistry students also gain broad understanding of modern principles, techniques and applications of chemistry, lab procedures and protocols and the ability to critically analyze and communicate literature in the field.

What kinds of classes can I take with a chemistry major?

After you gain a broad understanding of basic chemistry and lab techniques, you’ll be able to take foundation courses in inorganic & physical chemistry, analytical chemistry, organic chemistry and biochemistry. You can then dive in deeper to one of those fields, or focus on an in-depth laboratory course in analytical, physical or modern inorganic chemistry. Abby’s favorite classes were her Organic Chemistry 1 and Inorganic Chemistry courses. “In my Inorganic chemistry classes, I was able to study the compounds that make up all inorganic matter. We focused on how these inorganic compounds shape the world around us and how we can use these compounds to shape our world. In my organic chemistry 1 class, we looked at carbon-based compounds which make up all organic material including humans. I enjoyed studying both aspects of what compounds make up all materials on earth. “

Faculty truly enjoy teaching the first and second year chemistry courses. Classes are very small at Agnes Scott, leading to very close relationships and personal attention.
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Dr. Sarah Winget
Professor of Chemistry

What skills will I learn?

“I have studied chemical synthesis, analysis and problem-solving. In my lab courses, I have learned technical scientific writing and record-keeping. We are also taught safe laboratory practices, chemical handling with disposal techniques and ethical laboratory practices. Agnes Scott has given me the skills to work in any lab, research position, or job,” says Abby. In addition, alumni cite skills learned in public speaking, leadership and data analysis that they learned through the major.

What internships and research opportunities are available?
There are numerous opportunities for students to take part in research with faculty or find their own research or internship opportunities. Dr. Winget says that “on campus there is a STEM Scholars Program every summer through the Science Center for Women. Students can apply to receive a stipend and to spend the summer working with chemistry or biochemistry faculty on their research projects. Also, nationally, there are many REUs (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) at universities around the country. Some REU programs are in Georgia and some farther away. Typically, Agnes Scott chemistry students have no problems getting accepted into one of these many summer programs, where accommodation is provided and a stipend is paid.”

Scotties have interned and done research everywhere from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Abby has done multiple research projects while at Agnes Scott: “I worked under Dr. Molly Embree with her Agnes Scott Soil Project as the point person on chemistry, and I worked under Dr. John Pilger with his research project involving Peanut Worms where I was able to utilize my lab skills in a way that mixed chemistry and biology. So while neither project’s main subject matter was chemistry, both projects allowed me to use my chemistry knowledge in conjunction with other disciplines. Also, I was able to form personal connections with both of my mentors and was able to learn so much from them not only in their projects but also in life and career advice.”

What are the benefits of studying chemistry at Agnes Scott College?

Too many to count! Here’s just a few:

 

  • Size: According to Dr. Winget, first-year classes rarely have more than 25 students, and major courses typically have about 7 students per course.
  • Prestige: Student at Agnes Scott can choose to obtain an American Chemical Society accredited degree, which is considered a rigorous academic program well known in the chemistry field.
  • Flexibility: At many institutions, if you want to graduate with a full chemistry major, you need to get started on day one on campus. Not so at Agnes Scott, says Dr. Winget, where we have built in enough flexibility for a student to explore and still graduate with the major.
  • Resources: The chemistry department has state-of-the-art research-grade instruments so students can get hands-on experience as a part of their coursework. There are also funds to help students do summer research.
  • Mentorship: According to Abby, she’s become close to nearly all of her professors, who have given her research and career advice.

So, are you ready to start a chemistry major at Agnes Scott? Take it from Abby: “I would absolutely encourage prospective chemistry students to attend Agnes Scott. Agnes Scott encourages students to explore all aspects of the STEM field, but also encourages them to explore. For example, I love science, but I also love history. Agnes Scott has given me the time and ability to obtain a history minor with my chemistry major.”

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