Chemistry Department

Chemistry is the transformative science that underlies much of our modern technological society. Chemistry plays a leading role in discovering new sources of critically needed energy, in designing and synthesizing the latest wonder drugs, in solving crimes by precise chemical analyses of physical evidence, in analyzing the environment for ultratrace levels of toxins, and in preparing the myriad of new high-tech materials used in space exploration, in transportation, in communications, in clothing, and even in our new high-tech modes of recreation.  Chemistry is everywhere and touches on almost every aspect of our daily lives.

At Lebanon Valley College, the guiding educational principle in our chemistry program is a simple one: engaged students learn. To this end, we offer

--- an ambitious undergraduate research program with cutting-edge projects,
--- a strong reliance on state-of-the-art chemical instrumentation beginning in the freshman year,
--- a fresh emphasis on internships,
--- and a problem-based pedagogy that fosters critical thinking and analysis.

We seek to immerse our students in the doing of science and to help them develop a solid foundation in modern chemistry. With this foundation, our graduates successfully move into Ph.D. programs, teaching positions, health-professional schools, and a wide-range of chemically related professions (see what our graduates do).

In conjunction with our strong emphasis on student engagement, we maintain a comprehensive program of assessment of student learning. We closely monitor how effectively we prepare our chemistry students, with our capstone assessment being the ETS Major Field Test in Chemistry (see Major Field Test Results).  In 2016, our Chemistry Department received the Award for Outstanding Institutional Practice in Student Learning Outcomes from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. This national award recognizes the chemistry department’s extensive use of external benchmarking exams, survey results, and graduate placement data (see LVC Award).

The chemistry program at LVC is active and vibrant, and our website is designed to give you a sense of the productive engagement of students and faculty within our department. Please take some time to explore the many links on this page that describe in detail the chemistry experience at Lebanon Valley College.

Research-The Vital Component

More than 60 years ago a young and energetic assistant professor, Dr. H. Anthony Neidig, initiated the College's first summer research program for chemistry students. That pilot program, supported by a three-year grant from Research Corporation, was dramatically successful and resulted in a 1950 publication by Neidig and four undergraduate students in the prestigious Journal of the American Chemical Society. Such undergraduate research papers were unheard of at the time. Ongoing grant support from Research Corporation, the Petroleum Research Fund, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation has fueled a sequence of annual summer research programs that have continued every single year since 1948.

Our annual summer research experience now lies at the heart of chemistry and biochemistry at Lebanon Valley College. We believe that the reason for involving students in real research is compelling: the scientific method, the very foundation of science, is best understood through an experiential process in which experimental design, data collection and analysis, and hypothesis testing become tangible tools in a process of discovery. During the summer, students are able to immerse themselves completely in science, giving them the time and opportunity necessary to refine techniques, to learn to confront and solve problems, to understand the power and limitations of instrumentation, and to evaluate, interpret, record, and present data.

Results—The pioneering efforts, beginning in 1948 and extending to the present, have served to demonstrate that research can become truly integral within the undergraduate chemistry curriculum and that, when so integrated, the research experience exerts a profound effect on the student-faculty dynamic, on the productivity of students and faculty, and on the future success of chemistry graduates. Joint faculty-student projects constitute the most effective scientific teaching done in the department. Student research is directed toward professional development and may result in joint authorship of scientific publications and in the opportunity to present research results at a regional or national scientific meeting. The department has an active seminar program that brings students into contact with nationally recognized authorities in chemistry and chemistry-related fields. The commitment to student research has had a significant impact on the career decisions of LVC's graduates. Of the students participating in summer research, approximately 75 percent have earned higher degrees.