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Nina Matheny R~scher,'-~

Paul F. Waters,
Thomas S. CantreU,
Loulse Karle Hanson,
and Frederick W. Carson
The American University
Washington. D.C. 20016

A Curriculum for Continuing Education

in Chemistry


Available data sueeest not onlv that there is under-utilization of women scientists, but that in many cases they may
cbwse to enter or reenter their discioline after a considerable
lapse of time beyond graduation. A similar problem exists also
with oersons who have entered em~lovmentin chemistrv at
a ~ub:~rofessionallevel in that they ma; have progressed &h
the state of the art only in those areas immediatelv oertinent
to their employment.~hus,these persons need period of
updating if they wish to pursue work or in order to upgrade
their positions t o professional status.
This paper describes the curriculum and approach used by
the Chemistry Department a t The American University in
preparingand implementinga program to update two groups
of women in order to prepare them to enter graduate school
or return to the job market in chemistry.
Rather than asking returning students to take advanced
courses in which they would sink or swim or to retake undereraduate courses. the facultv believed a special oroeram
emphasis on laboratory experience would be more instructive
and effective. S ~ e c i acourses
were desimed in ., analyticai, and biochemistry with the understanding
that to a certain extent inorganic chemistry would be covered
in all of the programs.
The courses were developed with the understanding that
each of the four courses taught in Group I would meet for
seven weeks, five davs a week, four hours a dav with one hour
of lecture and three hours of laboratory each diy. Group I1 was
taught during fourteen weeks with two hours of lecture and
six hours of laboratory each day.
In the first program the order of the courses was physical,
organic, analytical, and biochemistry. In the second it was
physical followed by organic with analytical and biochemistry
meeting a t the same time. However, after two weeks of analytical chemistry in the morning and biochemistry in the afternoon, the summer schedule was changed. The students felt
that carrying the two subjects a t once was too great a strain
and there was a general breakdown in morale. The last four
weeks were modified to two weeks of analytical chemistry,
followed bv two weeks of biochemistrv.
'I'he pro&m stressed instrumentaimethods that had develowd within the last 10 to 15 vears. It was recoanized that
methods developed 15 years agofor research
not have reached the undereraduate laboratorv immediatelv
and would also need t o be considered. ~ x t e n & elaborator;
experience was also necessary, with not just exposure to the
instruments, but repetitive experience with some of the more
common instruments.
I t was decided that a repeat of some of the more common
underaraduate experiments would be helpful initially.
heref fore, in each area common laboratory experiences weie

'Thk rnilterial is h a s 4 upon results obtained during a project

suppvrtrd hy r h r K n t a d Science Fotmdntim under Grant No. SMI
76-20575. An" opmions, findings,and ronrlusiuns or recornrnendnrioni ~xpresredin this publication are r l r c w d ~ h authors
and do not
newssarilg reflect the view oi thr National Science Fuundntion.
'Presented. in van, at the Middle Atlnntic Regional Meerine of the
American chemical ~ocietv.Newark.~elawari.Amil.
3Roseher,N. M., J. ~ 0 1 1 . - ~ c~ie. a e h .in
, press.
646 1 Journal of Chemical Education

planned, such as some basic physical chemical measurements,

distillation and crystallization, organic synthesis, and aualytical techniques. The biochemistry segment was taught with
the assumption that no prior knowledge of the topic existed.
The participants who had biochemistry before found that the
topics had changed enough that they did not feel shortchanged.
Twentv oartici~antswere selected for the first oroeram
during the i976-?7 academic year. This group inclu>ei25%
with master's degrees and the balance with bachelor's degrees
in chemistry ohtained generally in the early 60's. The most
recent degree was a master's degree obtained in 1970. The
second program involved ten students, two with master's
degrees. and was durina the summer of 1977. Onlv one of the
30barticipants was employed a t the time she entered the
The participants were evaluated and selected on the basis
of their transcriots, experience, and statements on why they
would like to take part;n the program, what they expected
do after they completed the program, and what they
to get out of the pr&am. hef fa cult^ involved in the program
generally concluded, however, that transcripts were of little
value. The majority of those selected had outstanding grades
as undergraduate students.
There are no reliable tests available for evaluatine students
a t this level. It was decided to use as one criterion the American Chemical Society exams written for entering graduate
students. These tests were administered on a pre-program and
post-program basis. The entire test was used even though it
was not planned nor anticipated that all of the questions
would be pertinent. Some of the subjects on the tests were
deliberately excluded from consideration in the program,
considering the time factor and the material to be covered.
The performance on the pre-test generally correlated more
with how recently the student had attended school than with
their grades in the specific course or their overall performance
as undergraduate students. No pre-test was given in biochemistry as the number of participants with prior knowledge
was sufficiently limited t o make any results statisticallv
Our experiences in this continuing education project for
women scientists suggest that individual counseling and reinforcement is necessary for success in a program of this
The main topics for the courses for lectures and laboratory
are outlined in Table 1and Table 2, respectively. The comments on the individual courses follow.

Physical Chemistry
Physical chemistry was reviewed first to refurbish basic
principles useful in the other fields of chemistry. The topics
chosen included: chemical thermodynamics, intermolecular
forces, liquid crystals, polymers, surface chemistry, quantum
mechanics, and molecular spectroscopy. Surface chemistry
was taught during the first program. Quantum mechanics was
substituted for it in the second uroeram.
I t was assumed that all of theprispective students would
have had thermodvnamics which would be ideal for easing the
students hack into a formal study of chemistry (1.2). 1;termolecular forces, common to all substances, were used as a

vehicle to emphasize the electrical nature of all matter and the

importance of this property in physical andlor chemical
properties and transformations. Liquid crystals were examined. as useful items of current commerce and vital structural
members in biological systems, and asexemplars of the power
of the intermolecular forces in stahilizine- mesophases and in
governing transformations within and between mesophases
.. .
Polymer chemistry served as a framework for the teaching
of topics in reaction kinetics and mechanisms, solution thermodinamics, kinematics, interactions of electromagnetic
radiation with matter at nonabsorbing frequencies, and elementary rheology. Practical aspects of the field were treated
by examining the modes of manufacture and the physical
properties of a variety of the forms of the polymers of commerce(5,6).
An elementary approach was taken with the quantum
theory. The solutions of Schrodinger's equation for the eigenvalues of the energies of simple molecular models were
discussed, leading to the topics of spectrophotometry and
microwave. infrared. and Raman snectroscoov.
Parts of the first few laboratory periods ke;e used to conduct a mini course in applied electronics, beginning with
simple dc circuits, through simple power supplies, ac circuit
theory, amplifiers and semiconductors.
Organic Chemislry

Emphasis was placed on nmr, ir, mass spectrometry, with

brief introductions to techniques of esr, ord, cd and photoelectron spectra. Also covered were the elements of organic
.. orbital svmmetrv correlation rules and aDplications thereof, and recent developments in medicinal
chemistrv. Due to time limitations and the importance of instrumentation, organic reaction mechanisms were not considered.
Three texts were assigned (7-9). Reprints of review articles
on crown ethers (10). organohoranes (11). and prostaglandins
(12) were provided for ~ ~ ~ ~ l e m reading
e n t a l mkerialon these
The lecture and lab syllabi for Group I1 differed significantly from those of Group I. Based on experiences with the
members of Group I, changes were made as a result of test
scores, lecture and lab instructors' subjective opinions, students' verhal suggestions, and on an anonymous written
Suggestions made hy Group I which were incorporated into
Table 1. Selected Lecture Toplcs
Thermodynamics: lntermlecular Fwcer: Liquid Oystals; Polymers: Swlace
Chemistry: Quantum Mechanics: Molecular Spclroscopy.
Atomic and Molecular Orblab; Inhared Spenroscopy: NMR Specnoscopy:
Mass Spectrometry; Organic Photochemistry; Medicinal Chemistry; Newer
Synthetic Methods.
Atomic Absorption, UV-Visible Absorption. Emission Spectroscopy; X-Ray
Crystallography: Chromatography:Potentiametry; Coulometry: Polarography;
Elementary Statistics: Fourier Transform Melhods: Lasers: Organometallic
Complexes of Transition Metals.
Amino Ackl. Peotide and Protein Sbuctures and Pmoerties: Enmme Kinetics.
Reg~lalmnana Mechannsrns: Metabolic Pmclpies and Bioenergetics. Glyco YS 9 Reactions and The r Regulat on, Mitochondrmen0 !he Krebr Cyc e:
Mernhrana S l r ~ c t ~ r and
e s Transpoll. Hormone Acton: Molecular Genetics:
Genetic Engineering.
Computer Applications
Input and Editing of Data Using a Libmy Statistical Rogram: Computer Histmy
and Roles in Chemistry: Use of a Library Data Base Search Program; A l p
rithms and Flow Charts: Linear Mean Calculation: Iterative Mean Calculation:
Nested Loops. Matrix Operations and Functions: lhput/Output Files and

the schedule for Group I1 included: more laboratory time

spent on identification of unknown substances using spectral
methods and less time on synthesis; one class period approximately halfway through the session set aside for a general
review; and less time spent on orbital symmetry correlation
rules and their applications and more on instrumental
Analytical Chemistry

The course included: spectroscopic techniques, chromatographic techniques, electrochemical techniques, methods
for treating and improving data, and topics in inorganic
chemistry,~ncludingbrgan&netallicand hfoinorganic chemistry. Approximately two-thirds of the course was devoted to
spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques. In these two
suhiects, the lectures emphasized one illustrative technique
in detail (atomic absorption spectroscopy and gas chromatography, respectively) with the help of audiovisual aids
There were few changes in the topics between the two sessions, though more time was spent on electrochemistry in the
second session a t the expense of the inorganic chemistry. No
specific course text was assiened durine the first sessionalthough a list of current anal5ical textsand ACS reprint collections from Analytical Chemistry was handed out. I t was
decided that these participants would have benefited from the
discipline of havine had an "assigned text:" therefore, the
second group was-assigned ' ' ~ & c i ~ l e sof Instrumental
Analysis" by Skoog and West (14).
In the second program, major changes involved access to
a mass spectrometer, an atomic absorption unit, and an
electrophoretic device. Three students were in a group for all
experiments except the porphyrin synthesis. Different groups
would work on different instruments in any given lab period.
Occasionally, no lab would be scheduled and the open time
was used for review of lecture material, tests (two were given),
and discussion of the laboratory experiments and homework
The students were requested to hand in concise laboratory
reoorts which included the .
. of the ex~eriment,data,
caiculations, and results. Students were also given homework
Table 2. Laboratory Experiments
. .., ..
Calorimetry: Elechical Measurements: Oscillosmpe: CC
/, ;,
AG, AHand A S of an Electrochemical Reaction: Optical Polarization: Refractive Indices of Cholssteric Mesophsses: Polymerization: Purifications
end Molecular Weight Determination of Polystyrene by Viscometry and 0s
momtry; Preparation and Testing of Reverse Osmosis Membrances: Tensile
Strength of Polymer Films: Determination of Extinction Coefficient of Methylene Blue.
Operation of IR and NMR Spectrometers and Practice with Known and Unknown Compounds: Use of Computerized Mars Spectral Search for ldentitication of Unknown Ccmpwnds ham Mass Spectra Alone: hganic Symhesls:
Aldol Condensation, Oieis-Alder. NaBH, Reduction and Photochemical R e
actions: Purification of Products by Column Chromatography: Classical
Qualitative Organic Analysis: Preparation of Solid Derivatives: Chemical and
Spectral Methods.
Analysis of TwDComponent Absorbing Mixture: pKa'of an indicator: UV
Spectrophotametry; Fluorimehic Analysis of Nitrate: Fluorescence Experiments with Quinine: Atomic Abswption Analysis of Fe Content in F d
Chromatography: Gas LiquibQualitative and Ouantitative, including unknown
Gasoline Midures: ion-ExchangeSeparation of Fe, Co: Cis and Trans Azobenzenes: Paper-Ink; Amino Acid: Polarography: Amperometric Titration
with OME: Synthesis and SNdy of Metalloporphyrin-(Absorption Spectra.
NMR Spectra. Fluorescencel.
pKa'of Tris(hydroxymethy1~minomethane:Potentiometric and Formal Tinations of an Unknown Amino Acid: Blood Hemoglobin: Nitrite in Meat:
Methemaglobin Redunase from Blood: Luciferin-Luciferase Assay of ATP:
Lipid Composition by Gas Chromatography; Rate of Protein Synthesis in E.


Volunm 55, Number 10. October 1978 / 647

prohlems in statistical analysis of data, uv spectroscopy, and

spectral identification.

It was decided that one tooic would he covered in deoth in

the first half of the course and current developments hould
he emphasized in the second half. In addition, computer
processing of experimental data was an integral part of the
laboratorv work. The eeneral schedule for each dav was one
hour of lecture, one hour of computer applications or hiochemistry laboratory lecture, and two hours of biochemistry
laboratory work.
Stryer's hook (15) was chosen as the text for the traditional
topics. A syllabus with page references to hoth the required
text and Lehninger's hook (16)was distributed. Additional
readings from the texts hy Watson (17) and Metzler (18)were
Trends in Biochemical Sciences (TIBS), Science and Nature provided source material for outlines and specific examples of recent developments in biochemistry. The syllabus
and a bibliography of TIBS articles from 1976 and 1977 were
provided to the students for reference and subsequent independent study.
Data analysis using an interactive computer and detailed
written reports were selected as important aspects of the
hiochemistrv laboratow curriculum. These asoects.
. . as well
as literature searching, computer programming,' and participation of many of the women in field testing a computeraugment,ed ACS Continuing Education Delivery Systems
(CEDS) course.. "S~ectrometric
Identification of Oraanic
~ o m p o k d s , "cut into the time formally allotted t o b i o chemistrv lahoratorv work.
The emphasis of the study of the potentiometric titration
of tris-(hvdroxvmethvl)-minomethane, was a detailed error
analysis by linear regiession analysis, done hoth by hand and
using an interactive curve-fitting computer program.
Assays of hemoglobin and nitrite were used to illustrate
typical colorimetric methods used in clinical chemistry (19,
20) and regulatory analytical chemistry. The hemoglobin
determination was performed with hoth a commercial kit and
laboratory reagents in order to demonstrate the economies of
time available a t a price.
The isolation of methemoglobin reductase from red blood
cells provided an introduction to enzyme techniques with few
stens and a hieh activitv enzvme. The orocedure of Solittberger et al. (27) was modified to include a gel filtrationstep.
Spectrophotometric techniques were used for kinetic studies
of the enzyme. Cofactor and inhibition data were analyzed
usine Lineweaver-Burk olots and least sauares fits obtained
with the aid of an interactive computer program.


4BASICLaneuaee and an IBM 370/145 Comouter under MUSIC

were used withk&berg's text (22).
SCopies of the experiments or complete descriptions of the curriculum are available on request.

848 1 Journal of Chemical Education

The firefly lantern luciferin-luciferase system, which luminesces in the presence of ATP, provided a qualitative example of the high energy nature of ATP. Lipid analysis
demonstrated hoth the qualitative identification and quantitative determination of fatty acid esters. Incorporation of
tritium-labeled leucine into cellular proteins illustrated reactive isotopic methods.
Concluding Remarks

No academic credit was given for the program. It served

only as a review and an update. Descriptions of the program
and the curriculum are provided routinely to prospective
employers and graduate schools.5 The women's performance
as a whole was a t the beginning graduate student level as indicated by the professors exams as well as the scores on the
ACS exams. I t has been decided, however, that future programs will carry some graduate credit. Also under discussion
is a conversion of the courses to core courses for our graduate
program for part-time students returning to school after a
lapse of time and for international students with only limited
laboratory experience.

The financial support for the planning, administration, and

implementation of the program was provided by a Career
Facilitation Grant under the Women in Science Program of
the National Science Foundation. The authors gratefully
acknowledge this support.
Literature Cited

Banow, G. M., "Phyairal Chcmiatry." McCraw~HillB w k Company, New York,

I21 Klolr I M and Ho~enhen.R. M., "ChemiealThermdynamics." W. A. Benjamin,
Int M~nloPerk.Cal.1972.
I? Ware*. 1' F .and F4rm.r. I . R Collntdond S,.r/otr Srlmre V . 9 ' 11976f

CrysUlr. 6d~tdlmr-.I. hnun. J b .and P ,rlrr. H * 1.19711 P 2 4 1

(51 ilrerdon..l. I'.and W - u n . P F . t n Thrrmal and Vh .t .I#mcllrtrd('urrcnlsin in.
s u l a t ~" I F d c t ~ r i n ) l h . U n n n l d ~ . T h r F , l l ~ r ~ r ~ r h r mC#rr ar l ) I'r#n.<un . N . 1 .
,a,< .." ,!.,.~...,

(6) Karamisn, N . A , end Waters, P. F.,Desolinofion. 17,329 (19751.

(7) Ault, A.. and Dudek.G.
IntmdudiontoH1 Nuelcar M w e t i c Resonam
Spedracopy..:Holden-Day. San Fmnrirro, 1976.
(8) DoPuy, C. H., and Chapman. 0. L.. "Moleeulnr Reactions and Photochemirtry."
Prmtia-Hall. Now Jersey, 1914.
and Experiments for orpnie Chemistry," 2nd Ed.. Holhmok.
(9) ~ d tA.."Teehniques
Boston, 1976.
(10) Gahel. G.W.. Aldrichimko Act-, 9.3 (1976).
(111 Brow, H . C.. Aldtiehimica A d o , 4.43 (19741.
(121 Horton. E. W.. Chem Snc. Re", 4.5R9 (1975).


Park, California, 1916.

(18) Metzler, D . E.. "Biochemistry: The Chemical Reactions of Living Cells." Academic

EDUC., 52.660 (19751.

(22) Soltrberg, L., Shah, A. A., Saber, J. C., and Canty, E. T.."BASIC and Chemistry."
Haughton Mifflin Co.. Boaton, 1975.