Edgar Mendez Triff

After the mandatory semesters of general and organic chemistry as undergraduates, chemistry in education and practice undergoes a steady decline.

Blog Post created by Edgar Mendez Triff on Oct 23, 2014

It is one of the most common sights on a college campus: first and second year undergrads spending hours trying to get a handle on all the brand new information they have just been bombarded in their chemistry class. They seek tutoring, online tutorials, spends hours studying, ask all the people they know in the class about a problem, visit the professor during office hours... you name it. Then, of course, perhaps one of the most notoriously difficult classes in the eyes of society... organic chemistry. So much time being invested in 2-years. So much material learned. Material that could potentially lead to research, development or discoveries that could change the world.


But then chemistry is done. Unless we count those very select and very few individuals who want to major in chemistry or chemical engineering or something else strictly chemistry related, the vast majority of the population will see chemistry less and less. Some of these students will go on to some sort of health-related field like nursing, physician assistants, dentists, pharmacists, and doctors... Some will go into engineering or computing... The others will do laboratory work, be instructors, get masters or doctorate degrees. But chemistry becomes background noise whether you're taking microbiology, molecular cell biology, immunology, virology, biotechnology, bioinformatics, botany, zoology, genetics, physics, seminars, internships, etc. These classes all technically require chemistry as a prerequisite, but in practice it is rarely used and memorization of facts and learning how to perform techniques with machinery take over. Theory goes out the window and your brain shifts into action mode. And there's a lot of writing.


To end this thought, I believe all these after-having-taken-chemistry courses should devote much more time to the chemistry aspects on which they are all founded on or heavily rely on. Don't just say you mix this solution 1 with this solution 2 then add this powder and perform some highly advanced laboratory technique and get your results. You must explain why solutions 1 and 2 were used, how they reacted, what they were chemically composed of, how they changed throughout the required task, etc. Every day I miss chemistry more and more as I approach my undergraduate graduation because it has not been at the forefront as it should be.