Chemistry & Biochemistry
Chemists and biochemists study the fundamental processes that govern the natural world, including atomic structure and how atoms interact to form molecules and materials. They study the mechanisms of chemical processes, including those that underpin living systems such as the transfer of information from DNA to RNA to proteins. They work to develop simplifying models (theories) that permit the correlation and explanation of observations about the behavior of matter. Chemical principles are fundamental to the understanding of subjects ranging from the molecular biology of life to the structure of rocks and minerals.
Chemistry and biochemistry provide an essential foundation for the medical sciences, engineering (especially chemical engineering), electronics, energy, environmental sciences, materials science, pharmacy, and virtually all manufacturing processes.
Chemistry and biochemistry are active branches of science that are vital to human existence. Inasmuch as the field embraces all aspects of the material world, it is subdivided into five areas of interest. Examples of these diverse areas include the regulation of protein synthesis, cellular signal transduction at the molecular level and proteometrics (biochemistry), design and synthesis of medicinal compounds (organic chemistry), design and synthesis of new molecular structures and materials (inorganic chemistry), spectroscopic study of energy transfer and molecular structures (physical chemistry), and analysis of medicinal compounds, biological materials, and contaminants or trace elements found in the environment (analytical chemistry).
Chemistry and biochemistry involve far more than test tubes and beakers. They include sophisticated methodologies such as recombinant DNA technology, working with a variety of instruments such as mass spectrometers, calorimeters, chromatographs, ultracentrifuges, lasers, X-ray diffractometers, electron microscopes and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers, all of which are used by undergraduate chemistry and biochemistry students at BYU. Computers also play an important role in these disciplines, with applications varying from simulation of molecules to the collection and analysis of data. The chemistry and biochemistry curricula are both rigorous and intellectually rewarding.