Sajith Jayasinghe

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, CSUSM

Why should you study chemistry? It is no accident that chemistry is called the 'central science'. The science of chemistry permeates all other scientific disciplines. In most cases it is easy to see how chemistry is involved in a particular scientific discipline. Chemistry is central to the development of new medicines (notice how may ads for new medicines are on TV?) and help us understand the behavior of these drugs. Therefore, chemistry is a vital component of pharmacology. The principles of chemistry are routinely used in the analysis of evidence from crime scenes (ever watch CSI?) and is therefore central to the science of forensics. However, sometimes, the role of chemistry is not as easy to see. Can you think of how chemistry is involved in astronomy? Chemistry is a vital part of astronomy (astrochemistry anyone?) and helps astronomers understand how the chemicals found in space interact with each other, and how these chemicals determine the properties of the objects (stars, planets, galaxies, etc.) found in space. Since chemistry makes important contributions across many scientific disciplines it is important that all students of science at least understand the basic principles of chemistry.

But what if you are not a science student? Do, or would, non-scientists benefit from studying chemistry? In addition to its impact on the sciences, chemistry also helps us understand many aspects of our everyday lives, and helps us make informed decisions regarding our health and well being. Chemistry helps us decide what foods to eat, what kinds of ingredients are good or bad for us, what types of chemicals (and how much of these chemicals) we should or shouldn't allow into our environment. As future professionals, leaders of society and as conscientious voters we will be called on to make decisions based on scientific knowledge with significant consequences for our society. The study of chemistry can help us acquire the knowledge needed to function as informed citizens in our society.

CHEM 105:  General, Organic, and Biochemistry for Life

This course covers the basic principles of general, organic, and biochemistry as needed to understand the biochemistry, physiology, and pharmacology of the human body. This course is intended for students pursuing a degree in nursing.

CHEM 105L:  General, Organic, and Biochemistry for Life Laboratory

This is the laboratory section of CHEM 105: General, Organic and Biochemistry of Life. The laboratory experiments are intended to complement and illustrate the material discussed in CHEM 105.

CHEM 312:  Organic and Biochemistry for Life

This course is designed to provide the basic principles of general, organic, and biochemistry as needed to understand the chemistry and chemicals of life. The topics covered are intended to provide the student with an appreciation for the chemical principles that govern the structure, function and behavior of biological macromolecules such as proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and DNA.

CHEM 315:  Science in Film and TV

Intended for the non-science major, the goal of this course is to introduce students to the fundamental concepts in the physical and life sciences. Popular motion pictures, television programs and commercials, and video documentaries that contain scientific themes will be used to introduce relevant concepts, and will also serve as a common background from which students can expand their scientific understanding.

CHEM 341:  General Biochemistry

Intended for the science major the object of this one semester course is to introduce students to the fundamental concepts and language of biochemistry. The areas covered are (but not limited to): basic thermodynamics of biological systems, properties of amino acids, protein structure, introduction to enzyme kinetics, inhibition and regulation, nomenclature and structure of carbohydrates and lipids, the structure of biological membranes and membrane transport, the structure of nucleic acids, and an introduction to metabolism.

CHEM 351:  Biochemistry 1

Intended for the science major the object of this course is to introduce the student to the fundamental concepts and language of biochemistry, and to the principles that govern the structure and behavior of biological macromolecules.

CHEM 351L:  Biochemistry Laboratory

The goal of this laboratory course is to teach the following aspects of experimental biochemistry: experimental design and execution, and data recording, analysis, interpretation and presentation. No textbook or laboratory manual is required. The instructor will provide the experimental procedures.

CHEM 450:  Protein Structure and Function

Intended for science majors, the goal of this course is to introduce students to an in-depth analysis of protein structure and function. Topics covered are: fundamentals of protein structure including structural motifs, domains, and folding, methods of protein structure determination, structural bioinformatics, and an in-depth consideration of the structure-function relationship in representative proteins involved important biological functions such as transport, enzyme catalysis, protein-nucleic acid interactions, signal transduction, immunity, and membrane channels and receptors. The course includes a molecular graphics components aimed at providing hands on experience to the student.

CHEM 491:  Special Topics in Biochemistry

TEACHING:  Courses