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 interdisciplinary portion of the major includes Biology 130, Molecular Biology 221, two biochemistry classes, Biology 322, and Chemistry 350, plus the comprehensive examination in biochemistry. 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, a doctorate in the health professions, employment in the biotechnology field, or a career in education. Students planning on pursuing a Ph.D. in Biochemistry 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 advanced 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; Biology 115, 130, 221, 349 and one additional upper level Biology course (with lab) in the area of cell and molecular biology; Chemistry 120 or 130, 220, 221, 240, 300, and 350; Mathematics 110 and 120; Physics 110 and 120, or Physics 115 and 125. All courses must include a lab component unless otherwise specified. One of the two "Biochemistry" courses (Bio 349 and Chem 350) can be replaced as follows: Bio 322 can be replaced by an additional 300 level biology course, with lab, in the area of cell and molecular biology; Chem 350 can be replaced by taking 4 units total of 300 level chemistry course(s), CHEM 395 or BIO 395 cannot be used to replace CHEM 350.

WRITING REQUIREMENT: Students majoring in Biochemistry will satisfy the final component of Occidental College's writing requirement by completing a portfolio of five specified papers or the appropriate Writing and Rhetoric class. Students should familiarize themselves with the departmental requirement at the time of declaring the major. See the writing program and consult the Program Chair for additional information.

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT: The student must pass the Graduate Record Examination in Biochemistry at the 50 percentile rank or the American Chemical Society undergraduate examination in Biochemistry at the 50 percentile rank. The student will also satisfactorily 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 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 repeated 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

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

Adjunct Assistant 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

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

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

Andrew Udit

Associate Professor, Chemistry

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