Cumberland University has offered numerous science degrees, even a degree in biological chemistry, since 2011. Beginning in the fall, it will offer a general chemistry degree.

“There are no prerequisites a student has to have to declare this as their major, there are just a few required courses they will have to take,” said Cumberland University Professor Sarah Pierce. “They will have a lot of choices.”

According to Pierce some of the choices of classes for a chemistry major will be general chemistry one and two, organic chemistry one and two, physical chemistry one and two, analytical chemistry and biological chemistry. Pierce said her department is really trying to push data analysis so students are prepared for work place scenarios such as handling experimental and analytical data.

“The students are required to have biological statistics too,” said Pierce. “We are also focused on scientific writing, so we have a scientific writing course.”

Pierce said the writing course is to prepare students to be able to write papers such as scientific lab reports and documents that may open the doors for that student to be published.

Assistant Professor June Hunter teaches principles of chemistry as well as analytical and physical chemistry. She said her expertise is in the environmental testing industry. Hunter came to the college from a career that had her testing soil and water for the EPA.

“Chemistry is everything in life,” said Hunter. “You name it, food, environment, everything is chemistry.”

Pierce said Hunter is a valued asset to the department because of her history in the workforce.

“She has spent 13 years in the industry. We are really lucky to have her expertise,” said Pierce. “I think it is going to help students transition from academia to the workforce and using real-world applications.”

Pierce said the new chemistry degree has three pathways the students can choose from. She said they can walk out the door and get a job in a lab and they have employed students with their biology-chemistry degree to such places as Pace Analytical in Mt. Juliet and other labs around Middle Tennessee.

“Vanderbilt will hire students for their lab there,” said Pierce. “They can also go get their graduate degree or go to a professional school and specialize in a certain area.”

Pierce said the main reason for creating the new degree had to do with all the students who were interested in a traditional chemistry degree, as opposed to the biochemistry degree that they already offered.

“Basically, we created the degree because of student interest,” said Pierce. “If you go to college and say, ‘I just want to be a chemistry major,’ that is what this major is.”

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