The Integrated Chemistry-Biology Sequence at St. Olaf College
The integrated chemistry/biology sequence is a unique opportunity to explore the ways in which chemistry informs biology and biology illustrates fundamental chemical principles. It may be taken in place of the traditional introductory courses in chemistry and biology (Chemistry 121/123 or 125, Chemistry 126, and Biology 125) and is intended for first year students who have an interest in chemistry or biology or other interdisciplinary fields (for example, environmental science, biomolecular science, neuroscience, pre-medicine or pre-health).
CH/BI (pronounced “chubby”) is a sequence of three courses. The first two courses, CH/BI 125 and CH/BI 126, primarily introduce chemistry topics within a biochemistry or biological context. The third course, CH/BI 127, is the most biological of the three and builds on the principles learned in CH/BI 125 and 126 to explore how chemistry informs major principles of cellular and molecular biology and genetics.
Course Number and Title
CH/BI 125: Integrated Chemistry/Biology I: Fundamental Chemical Concepts and Their Biological Applications
GE Satisfied: SED or IST Schedule: Fall, MWF 9:05-10:00; Lab Th 8-11 or 12:50-3:50
CH/BI 126: Integrated Chemistry/Biology II: Chemical Thermodynamics, Kinetics, and Biological Relevance
GE Satisfied Schedule: Interim, M-F (TBA)
CH/BI 127: Integrated Chemistry/Biology III: Molecular and Cellular Biology
GE Satisfied: SED or IST Schedule: Spring, MWF 10:45-11:40; Lab Th 8-11 or 12:45-3:45
Why should I take CH/BI?
- The CH/BI curriculum recognizes that many current and future challenges that face the world today will require solutions that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries.
- The CH/BI program is specifically intended for first-year students, providing a group of similarly motivated students who learn and laugh together for the year-long sequence of courses.
- Some students have co-enrolled in Biology 126 in the Spring semester and completed the introductory sequences for both biology and chemistry in their first year!
- CH/BI alumni have done well in advanced courses in chemistry, biology, and related fields. They are competitive applicants for research programs as well as medical and professional schools.
- CH/BI courses are limited to only 48 students (with labs at 24) insuring that you will have significant opportunity to interact with your professors, teaching assistants, and tutors.
What else should I consider?
- If your chemistry placement includes “chemistry-biology 125” as an option, then you have the background experience that will allow you to be successful in this course sequence.
- Because CH/BI 126 is an interim course, CHBI is not compatible with other programs (like the Great Conversation) that have interim course commitments.
- If you have AP credit in biology or chemistry, you may want to meet with your advisor or one of the CH/BI instructors to discuss whether this sequence fits with your interests and goals.
CH/BI course descriptions
CH/BI 125: Integrated Chemistry/Biology I - Fundamental Chemical Concepts and Their Biological Applications
This course introduces chemical concepts that are important for students pursuing a study of chemistry of biology. Topics include atomic structure, the Periodic Table, bonding interactions within and between particles, water and its solutions, biological membranes, chemical reactions types, chemical stoichiometry, equilibrium systems, acids and bases, introduction to protein structure. Examples are often pulled from the realm of biological molecules and processes. Students attend three classes and one 3-hour laboratory each week. Offered Fall Semester. General Education requirements satisfied: SED or IST.
CH/BI 126: Integrated Chemistry/Biology II - Chemical Thermodynamics, Kinetics, and Biological Relevance
This course introduces physical chemistry with an emphasis on the thermodynamics and kinetics of biological chemical reactions. Topics include probability as the driving force for chemical reactions; the relationship between chemical bonding energetics, entropy, and equilibria; oxidation-reduction reactions and electrochemistry; and rates of reactions, including enzyme-catalyzed reactions. Laboratory experiments and activities illustrate lecture topics and introduce new concepts. Offered during Interim.
CH/BI 127: Integrated Chemistry/Biology III - Molecular and Cellular Biology
This course builds on the principles learned in CH/BI 125 and 126 and explores how chemistry informs major principles of cellular and molecular biology and genetics. Topics include cell structure, metabolism, movement, signaling, division, and molecular and Mendelian inheritance. The course emphasizes problem-solving, quantitative reasoning, the scientific method, and scientific writing through lectures, discussions, readings, writing assignments, and laboratory work. Students attend three classes and one 3-hour laboratory each week. Offered Spring Semester. General Education requirements satisfied: SED or IST.
What the students are saying…..
“The program does a great job of integrating introductory chemistry and biology – but more importantly you go through an entire year with the same cohort. You get to know each other, learn from each other, and learn to rely on each other. After it’s all over, you know you’ll have these people to support you in the rest of your years at St. Olaf – and that’s the true strength of the CH/BI sequence.” - Ben, CH/BI class of 2008-09
“CH/BI forces one to learn how to learn…..you feel better prepared for the coming years and future courses.” - John, CH/BI class of 2010-11
“You develop close relationships with the professors and other students that carry on beyond the course.” - Jane, CH/BI class of 2009-10
“I feel like we are pushed to really understand instead of just to know.” - Gina, CH/BI class of 2010-11