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Both independent and profoundly collaborative, chemistry is an essential science — touching on everything from anthropology and sociology to psychology and history. At Mary Baldwin, chemistry students receive a level of lab experience usually reserved for graduate work. Students are encouraged to research, to play, to question, and to discover — all done with the personalized attention each student needs and deserves.

Why study chemistry at Mary Baldwin University?

  • Chemistry students have access to and are encouraged to “play” with instruments usually inaccessible for undergraduate.
  • With a student/faculty ratio of 10:1, chemistry students get the personal attention conducive to flourishing in the physical sciences. The level of lab experience with professors surpasses most larger undergraduate institutions.
  • Chemistry students at Mary Baldwin have a set requirement of lab skills higher than at many larger schools, as well as the tools to gain those skills.
  • At Mary Baldwin, chemistry students really learn how research is done. Students are encouraged to do independent research in the form of the Capstone Project. They are also required to present their work at professional meetings at least once a year.
  • Chemistry at Mary Baldwin is constantly adapting to meet the needs of today’s chemistry students. Flexibility in requirements, courses, and teaching methods help ensure chemistry stays current.
  • Professors in Mary Baldwin’s chemistry department are science educators. They embrace the liberal arts approach to their science and are able to offer personal attention to each student.
  • Students can gain additional experience as teaching assistants.

Student Affiliates – American Chemical Society

Undergraduate Affiliates Network (UAN) of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

National Honor Society for Women in Chemistry

REU Summer Undergraduate Research Experience

The Pearce Science Center houses the biology, biochemistry, chemistry, psychology, and physics disciplines.

Facilities within the building include:

Bausch and Lombe Abbe 3-L Refractometer
The refractive index for any compound is the ratio of the velocity of light in a vacuum to its velocity in a substance. Because every compound has a specific refractive index, students use this instrument to identify or characterize many of their samples.

Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy
Atomic-absorption (AA) spectroscopy uses the absorption of light to measure the concentration of gas-phase atoms. Students in Analytical Chemistry use the SpectrAA55 Varian Atomic Absorption Spectrometer to determine the analyze concentration of a sample.

Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
The Hewlett Packard 5890 Series II Gas Chromatograph (GC) equipped with a Hewlett Packard 5971 Mass Selective Detector (MS) separates components of mixtures and passes these components to the MS where they are ionized by a beam of high energy electrons. Ionization causes the molecules to fragment. Analysis of these fragments provides information about the structure and mass of molecules.

Ultraviolet-Visible Spectroscopy
Beckman Coulter DU 640 Spectrometer
Ultraviolet and visible (UV-Vis) spectroscopy is a way to measure the wavelength and intensity of absorption of a beam of light after it passes through a sample. Absorption measurements can be taken at a single wavelength or over an extended spectral range. The UV-Vis spectra have broad features that are of limited use for sample identification but are very useful for quantitative measurements.

Infrared Spectroscopy
Avatar Thermo Nicolet 360 Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FT-IR) with OMNIC computer program

Because chemical functional groups are known to absorb light at specific frequencies, students use the IR to characterize many of their samples.

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometry
The Hitachi R-1200 Permanent Magnet RS-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer (NMR) analyzes hydrogen atoms in molecules. Students have opportunities to work with this instrument when analyzing many of their samples.

Gas Chromatography
Gas chromatography is an analytical method that is widely used for separation, identification, and determination of chemical components in a mixture. This Gas Chromatograph has a flame ionization detector and a fused phenyl-methyl silicon column.

Gel Image Acquisition and Analysis
UVP GelDoc-It2 Gel Imaging System and VisionWorks LS Software
Biochemists use gel electrophoresis to detect specific proteins or DNA molecules of interest. This benchtop camera/darkroom combination allows acquisition of high quality images of experimental gels. Accompanying VisionWorks software is used for quantitation of protein or DNA fragments visualized in a gel.



Peter Ruiz-Haas

Associate Professor of Chemistry; BA, Hampshire College; PhD, Oregon State University...
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Nadine Gergel-Hackett

Associate Professor of Physics; BS, PhD, University of Virginia Dr...
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Maria Craig

Associate Professor of Chemistry; BS, James Madison University; PhD, University of...
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