Introduction to the Department of Chemistry

The Harvey Mudd Department of Chemistry is dedicated to undergraduate education and close personal interaction with students. It represents all chemical fields and provides a diverse range of research interests. The department is committed to challenging coursework and extensive hands-on experience with modern instrumentation and computation, and provides a broad-based education with an emphasis on problem-solving skills.

Our Distinctive Features

  • Ph.D. faculty teach all courses and laboratories
  • The department offers a major compatible with pursuing double majors or minors, study abroad and participation in extracurricular activities
  • We encourage research participation at the earliest point in one’s Harvey Mudd career
  • We integrate modern research-grade instrumentation and computational equipment in courses and research

The Chemistry Major

  • Provides classroom and laboratory instruction in the traditional fields of chemistry:
    • Analytical Chemistry
    • Biochemistry
    • Inorganic Chemistry
    • Organic Chemistry
    • Physical Chemistry
  • Allows exploration of specialized areas through elective courses
    • Bioorganic Chemistry
    • Biophysical Chemistry
    • Computational Chemistry
    • Industrial Chemistry
    • Lasers in Chemistry
    • Materials Science
    • Organometallic Chemistry
    • Surface Science
    • Synthetic Methods
  • Involves a senior research experience
  • Emphasizes development of problem-solving skills and communication skills
  • Leads to a Bachelor of Science degree certified by the American Chemical Society
  • Additional programs of study leading to ACS certification are available in Biochemistry, Chemical Education, and Chemical Physics

Major Instrumentation

  • Employed in laboratory and research settings throughout curriculum
  • Student-operated
  • Modern research-grade quality
  • Funded through grants and awards
    • National Science Foundation
    • National Institutes of Health
    • Research Corporation
    • Hewlett-Packard
    • IBM
    • Beckman
    • Dow Chemical
    • DuPont
  • Spectrometers
    • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance – Bruker 400 MHz
    • Absorbance – IR, Ultraviolet/Visible, Diode Array
    • Fluorescence
    • Circular Dichroism and Stopped-Flow
    • Gas Chromatograph – Mass Spectrometer
    • Liquid Chromatograph – Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer
  • Lasers
    • Argon/Dye, Nitrogen, Helium-Cadmium, Helium-Neon, Optical Parametric Oscillator
  • Separation Technology
    • Chromatographs – Gas, High-Performance Liquid, Low-Pressure Liquid
    • Electrophoresis – capillary and gel
    • High-Speed Centrifuges and Microfuges
  • Differential Scanning Calorimeters
  • Scanning Tunneling Microscope
  • Atomic Force Microscope
  • Silicon Graphics Workstations
  • Polarizing Microscope, Fluorescence Microscope
  • Sonicator, Lyophilizer
  • Langmuir-Blodgett Trough


PChem computers1 smallA computational laboratory adjoins the
experimental physical chemistry laboratory
for the concurrent analysis of results




NMR1 smallThe 400 MHz Bruker NMR is not only a general-purpose instrument for sophomore- and junior-level laboratory courses but also a research tool for studies of carbocations, fullerenes, unnatural amino acids, and regioselective chemistry.




kerry machine3smallFluorescence spectrophotometer in Professor Karukstis’ laboratory is used to characterize supramolecular species and macromolecular systems. She conducts a range of investigations from drug-delivery vehicle design to analysis of dye-dendrimer interactions.



vhmachinesmallThe circular dichroism spectrophotometer in Professor Van Hecke’s laboratory is used in inorganic chemistry laboratory to illustrate chiral properties of metal complexes. His research students use the instrument to study polarized spectroscopy of liquid crystals.



majorinstrumentation4 The multifunctional laser laboratory is used for experiments in the sophomore physical chemistry laboratory and in the junior instrumental analysis laboratory. The students in the advanced Lasers in Chemistry half-course use the laboratory to complete homework assignments. Undergraduates in Professor Van Hecke’s research group conduct laser light scattering measurements of binary liquid systems and measure piezooptic coefficients of pure materials and mixtures as a function of temperature and composition.


vh equip1 Physical chemistry students use the differential scanning calorimeter in Professor Van Hecke’s laboratory to determine solid-liquid phase diagrams. Inorganic chemistry laboratory students determine purities of synthesized products with the DSC. Research students investigate phase behavior of liquid crystals.



KH Lab1smallHMC chemistry students in Prof. Haushalter’s lab use biochemical techniques to study RNA interference and to optimize and test gene therapy vectors designed to treat HIV-AIDS




kk microscope1small

Fluoroscent Microscope with Digital Camera in the Karukstis/Van Hecke Laboratories




VH microscope1smallPolarized Light Microscope with Digital Camera in the Karukstis/Van Hecke Laboratories




Our Graduates

  • More than 80 percent of chemistry graduates continue advanced study leading to the Ph.D. degree
  • Highest ranked chemistry department for the percentage of graduates who have earned Ph.D. degrees
  • Significant numbers of graduates have won National Science Foundation, Churchill, Watson, and Marshall Fellowships and a Rhodes Scholarship
  • #1 chemistry department for the percentage of women on campus who major in chemistry
  • Chemistry alumni hold positions of leadership in academe and industry
    • Faculty at Columbia, Penn State, Harvard, Johns-Hopkins, Basyry, Elmhurst, Purdue, UC-Irvine, UC-San Diego, Colorado School of Mines, College of William and Mary, SUNY-Stony Brook Maclaester
    • Senior Editor of Science Magazine
    • Owner and Winemaker –Brander Vineyards
    • Facilty Director, Molecular Foundry
    • CEO, Arc Scan
    • Vice President and Winemaker, E & J Gallo Winery
    • CEO, Fivefocal
    • CTO, Pfizer
    • Co-Founder, I/O Software

Read more about the career paths of various HMC Chemistry alumni.