Welcome to the Department of Chemistry

Dr. Ron Estler and students, Jaquie Beckvermit and Mary Lou Lindstrom, work on a student built laser-desorption time-of-flight mass spectrometer
Dr. Ron Estler and students, Jaquie Beckvermit and Mary Lou Lindstrom, work on a student built laser-desorption time-of-flight mass spectrometer
Matt Aronoff does research in the Organic Chemistry Lab
Matt Aronoff does research in the Organic Chemistry Lab
Amelia Burns works on her summer research project in the Biochemistry lab, setting up a PCR reaction
Amelia Burns works on her summer research project in the Biochemistry lab, setting up a PCR reaction
Nellie McLean (NIH-MARC Awardee) and Dr. Les Sommerville (Director of the NIH-MARC Program and Chair of the Chemistry Department) discuss the 3D structure of a protein
Nellie McLean (NIH-MARC Awardee) and Dr. Les Sommerville (Director of the NIH-MARC Program and Chair of the Chemistry Department) discuss the 3D structure of a protein
Dr. Bill Collins explains synthetic technique with students
Dr. Bill Collins explains synthetic technique with students

Why Study Chemistry

The chemistry curriculum provides modern chemical skills and knowledge for students preparing for careers in areas such as environmental analysis, biotechnology, teaching, medicine, pollution control, waste management, energy research and production, drug discovery and synthesis, engineering, forensic science and pharmaceuticals.
Many students continue their studies in professional or graduate programs while others start technical careers immediately after graduation. The various areas of chemical and biochemical technology offer the largest field of employment in the physical sciences. Chemistry graduates will find many applications for their training in the fields of education, business, industry, law, government, and medicine.

Why Study Chemistry at Fort Lewis College

The Chemistry Department at Fort Lewis College provides modern chemical skills and knowledge for students preparing for careers in areas such as environmental analysis, biotechnology, teaching, medicine, pollution control, and engineering. It also offers certification by the American Chemical Society for students completing the ACS-certified curriculum.

We are proud to be one of five departments at Fort Lewis College to be named a Program of Excellence by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, recognizing our program as one of the best in the State.  Fort Lewis College ranks in the top 10 in the National Science Foundation's Mountain Region in the number of graduates who would eventually go on to earn a PhD in Chemistry.

Our Students Come First

Our department is devoted to providing students with the best possible education, through a combination of quality teaching, involvement with the scientific community through research, and focus on students.  The Department's teaching philosophy requires that students and faculty work in close, informal relationships that minimize competition and hierarchy and promote discovery and critical thinking with a free, fearless exchange of ideas and assistance.   The Departmental culture fosters high retention. As we have learned from our students, our open door policy and accessibility of faculty strongly contributes to the Department’s ability to retain students.

Our Graduates are Well Prepared

Graduates of the Department of Chemistry are well prepared for the day they leave Fort Lewis College. They are successful entrants to medical, graduate and professional schools, as well directly into the workforce.

With the national resurgence of attention to undergraduate research (in virtually all empirical fields), the Department explicitly places two boundaries on its research efforts, namely, (1) that the primary goal of undergraduate research is education, and (2) that teaching excellence must not be compromised by the various extracurricular demands created by faculty research activities. That said, we believe that undergraduate research opportunities and the highly personalized learning environment are essential reasons that Fort Lewis College students rise from ordinary high school backgrounds to excel in their scientific careers.  Many participate in research jointly with faculty members, both during the school year, and in our summer undergraduate research program.  

Hands-on experience with modern instruments requires providing lab stations dedicated to major instruments, strategically located to be accessible for use by students in several courses. The interactive, small group projects found in all lab courses requires a lab format that permits students to cluster for planning, then simultaneously work on several aspects of the project, move to instrument stations as needed and compile and evaluate results. These laboratory formats allow students to develop within the framework of a modern scientific workplace, with collaborative teamwork and integration of techniques.  During the past 15 years, our students have had success in acquiring jobs in industry, and continuing on to nationally recognized graduate programs.

Academic Options in Chemistry