Overview | Requirements | Courses | Faculty


Biochemistry explores the cell's molecular components and the chemical changes characteristic of living organisms. A thorough foundation in both biology and chemistry forms the core of biochemistry. Occidental's biochemists seek to use their scientific knowledge and broad education in the liberal arts to advance the public good and improve health care, economic opportunities, environmental stewardship, national security, as well as expanding human understanding through their teaching and research.

The core portion of the Biochemistry major includes Biology 130, the two biochemistry classes Biology 349 and Chemistry 350, and the Biochemistry Senior Seminar, Bioch 490. Classroom activities are supplemented by extensive laboratory experience involving the design, execution, and interpretation of experimental results. Biochemistry graduates generally elect to pursue graduate training toward a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, or areas in Cell and Molecular Biology, a doctorate in the health professions, employment in the biotechnology field, or a career in education. Students planning on pursuing a Ph.D. are advised to take several more courses including the advanced Cell and Molecular offerings in Biology, and advanced Chemistry courses in Chemistry, to broaden their education. Biochemistry students are strongly encouraged to pursue their particular interests through an independent study-research project (Biology 395 or Chemistry 395). The Biochemistry program is eager to accommodate the foreign study aspirations of its majors; however, due to the curriculum's sequential nature, careful advance planning is required.

Students wishing to declare a Biochemistry major should have completed two Biology and two Chemistry classes with at least a 2.7 GPA in these classes and arrange for the discussion of their schedule with one of the Program's advisors.


MAJOR: Consists of: Biochemistry 490; a 100 level organismal biology course (Biology 105, 106, 110, or 115); Biology 130; at least one 200 level cell and molecular biology course (Biology 221, 224, or 226); Biology 349; one additional 300 level cell and molecular course (with lab) (Biology 320, 323, 325, 326, 330, 333, 336); Chemistry 120 or 130, 220, 221, 240, (300 or 301) and 350; Mathematics 110 and 120; Physics 115 and 125 or Physics 110 and 120. All courses must include a lab component unless otherwise specified.  It is highly recommended that students take two 200 level cell and molecular biology courses.

WRITING REQUIREMENT: Students majoring in Biochemistry will satisfy the final component of Occidental College's writing requirement by completing a research paper during the fall semester of Biochemistry 490, Senior Seminar. Students should familiarize themselves with the departmental requirement at the time of declaring the major. Sudents should meet with the Biochemistry Program chair for detailed information about the writing requirement process.

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT: The student must pass the Graduate Record Examination in Biochemistry at the 50th percentile rank or the American Chemical Society undergraduate examination in Biochemistry at the 50th percentile rank. The student will also satisfactorily write a research paper and present a seminar during the Senior year on an area of current research in the field of Biochemistry to an audience of Occidental students and faculty. A student can earn distinction in Biochemistry with a 75th percentile rank and a distinguished paper and seminar presentation.

HONORS: In addition to the requirements for College honors, the student will successfully defend a written thesis based upon the outcome of his or her laboratory research effort as an undergraduate. See the Honors Program for more information.


490 - Senior Seminar in Biochemistry

The preparation, presentation and participation in a seminar series as a part of the senior comprehensive examination. Open only to senior biochemistry majors, to be taken both semesters. 
2 units

499 - Honors in Biochemistry

Independent study under the supervision of a member of the faculty. Prerequisite: permission of department. May be repeated both semesters.


Advisory Committee

Chris Craney

Professor, Chemistry; Advisory Committee, Biochemistry

B.S., University of Puget Sound; M.S., D.A., Washington State University

Roberta Pollock

Professor, Biology; Biochemistry; Advisory Committee, Biochemistry

B.S., Emory University; Ph.D., Harvard University

Renee Baran

Associate Professor, Biology; Advisory Committee, Biochemistry; Advisory Committee, Neuroscience

B.A., Macalester College; Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Jeffrey Cannon

Assistant Professor, Chemistry

B.A. Occidental College; Ph.D. University of California, Irvine

Shana Goffredi

Associate Professor, Biology; Advisory Committee, Biochemistry

B.A., University of San Diego; Ph.D., UC Santa Barbara

Linda Lasater

Non-Tenure Track Professor, Chemistry; Advisory Committee, Biochemistry

B.A., State University of New York; M.S., Nova University; Ph.D., University of South Florida

Aram Nersissian

Associate Professor, Chemistry; Advisory Committee, Biochemistry

B.S., Moscow State Lomonosov University; Ph.D., Armenian Academy of Sciences

Cheryl Okumura

Assistant Professor, Biology

B.A. Pomona College; Ph.D. UCLA

Gary Schindelman

Full-Time Non-Tenure Track Associate Professor, Biology

B.S., State University of New York at Binghamton; Ph.D., New York University

Joseph Schulz

Associate Professor, Biology; Advisory Committee, Biochemistry; Advisory Committee, Neuroscience

B.S., Indiana University; Ph.D., UC San Diego

Kerry Thompson

Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, Associate Professor, Biology

B.A., M.A., Ph.D., UCLA

Andrew K. Udit

Associate Professor, Chemistry

H.B.Sc., University of Toronto; Ph.D., Caltech