Welcome to the Web site for the Coe College Chemistry Department. Coe's mission is to "provide students an education of superior quality that aims at preparing them for life following graduation." The Chemistry Department seeks to support that mission by providing students with top-quality instruction and research opportunities.

A degree in chemistry from Coe will allow students to pursue a wide variety of opportunities, ranging from careers in local industry to graduate work at top research universities around the world. A chemistry degree indicates that you have learned to think in a logical fashion - to collect data, analyze it, and draw conclusions based upon your analysis. These are skills that can be applied in law school, in policy issues, on Wall Street - anywhere!

Nick Keyes '10 sets up equipment  while doing research with Professor Marty St. Clair.

Nick Keyes '10 sets up equipment while doing research with Professor Marty St. Clair.

  • Many chemistry grads go on to graduate school in chemistry or a related area. In recent years, students have gone into chemical engineering, biochemistry, molecular biology, material science, and environmental engineering graduate programs - in addition to further study in chemistry. These students will then likely either continue in academics - as a professor or researcher - or go into research in industry.
  • Many other Coe chemistry majors choose to follow interests in the health sciences - medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science are some of the professional schools that our students have chosen.
  • Still others decide to combine their chemistry with certification in secondary education and teach high school science. There is a considerable demand for individuals with solid science training in secondary education.
  • Others will pursue a career immediately in industry or government. This may mean working in a quality assurance laboratory, but it could also involve sales or managerial responsibilities.

For more information, please explore the site or contact anyone in our department.

Why Chemistry at Coe?

What's different about chemistry at Coe? There are many good liberal arts colleges that offer small classes and solid instruction in chemistry. Why should you take a closer look at Coe if you're interested in chemistry?

  • The quality and quantity of undergraduate research.
    All of Coe's chemistry faculty carry out research with undergraduate students. The work is supported by competitive grants from the National Science Foundation, Research Corporation, the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society, and internal grants, as well as by contracts with the city of Cedar Rapids, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Twelve students did research in chemistry during the summer of 2010; these students received stipends and free housing while they worked with Coe faculty on projects ranging from synthesizing new compounds to understanding the production of marine bio-cement. Approximately 50 students did research in the science building over the summer, which emphasizes Coe's commitment to undergraduate research. Coe is one of the smallest institutions in the nation to receive a National Science Foundation-Research Experience for Undergraduates grant. NSF-REU grants "involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects designed especially for the purpose." These grants typically are awarded to large research universities. Coe's program, which is in cooperation with our Physics Department, brings in students from across the nation to do research at Coe. 

What does this mean for you as a prospective student? When you graduate from Coe with a degree in chemistry, the graduate or professional schools you apply to will take note of your experiences in research. Your employer will notice that you have used a remarkable variety of instruments. These types of experiences make a difference!
  • ACS-certified department!
    The American Chemical Society sets standards for undergraduate degrees in chemistry, and only departments that meet their standards can offer "ACS-certified" degrees. Coe meets and exceeds these standards. You can find out about those standards, and find out what schools meet them, at the American Chemical Society's Committee on Professional Training web site.
  • Hands-on experience with the latest and best instrumentation.
    ("This is not your parents' chemistry course.") The faculty is constantly looking for ways to provide students with opportunities to work with state-of-the-art instrumentation. In the past ten years, we have acquired approximately $1,000,000 worth of instrumentation. We have no graduate teaching assistants that run samples for you - you'll use the instruments yourself. You'll have opportunities to get acquainted with mass spectrometry, Raman spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy, and much more!


  • Fourteen students took part in summer research in chemistry during the summer of 2009. (A total of 88 students have participated in chemistry summer research over the past five years!) Besides, of course, many hours of work in the lab, faculty and students also took time for seminars (with snacks), an evening baseball game featuring the Cedar Rapids Kernels (a minor league team), and visits to local industries. Funding for the students came from the National Science Foundation, the American Chemical Society's Petroleum Research Fund, the city of Cedar Rapids Water Department, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Environmental Protection Agency, the David Mehaffy Research Fund, the Victor Boile Fund, and Coe College.
  • Three Coe students, Caitlin Johnson, Tanja Duehrkop, & Rebecca Pine attended the National ACS meeting in Salt Lake City and received a student affiliate Honorable Mention.
  • New equipment additions from a technology grant have been used over the past year in our classes and during summer research: an inductively coupled plasma spectrometer (ICP-OES), a gas chromatograph - mass spectrometer with auto-sampler, a flow injection analyzer, and a low pressure chromatography station.
  • Coe's ACS student affiliate section worked in conjunction with the UNI chem club to host the undergraduate section activities at the regional Midwest ACS meeting in Iowa City, October, 2009.
Coe Chemistry in Salt Lake City – Caitlin Johnson, Tanja Duehrkop, and Rebecca Pine represented Coe College’s ACS student affiliates receiving an Honorable Mention Award at the  Spring 2009 National American Chemical Society meeting.

Coe Chemistry in Salt Lake City - Caitlin Johnson, Tanja Duehrkop, and Rebecca Pine represented Coe College's ACS student affiliates receiving an Honorable Mention Award at the Spring 2009 National American Chemical Society meeting.