Chemistry 110 - Special Topics

Chemistry Department

Saint Mary's College of California


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The Spring 2007 Special Topics in chemistry (Chem110) course will be devoted towards the discipline of bioinorganic chemistry with a particular focus on the interaction of metals in biological systems. Besides the normal, but often understated role of trace metals in biology, metals have also been put to use for both nobel and malecious purposes. Aresenic and antimony probably best known for their ill-effects on humans have also been used as an antimicrobial agents (JBC Vol. 279, No. 38, Issue of September 17, pp. 39925–39932, 2004). This class will focus on the uptake, delivery, and biological effects of these trace metals and look in depth at how a few exert their medicinal or toxic effects.

The format of Chem110 will be a mixture of lecture and student-led group problems (in the first 1/3 of the semester) but will primarily consist of discussion of readings from texts, review articles and research articles. There is no required text for this course. In general the discussion of journal articles will occur in the first half of the class followed by a short lecture or discussion of new concepts. The major outcomes of the course include increased proficiency at literarture research, increased understanding and efficiancy while reading research articles, the ability to discuss chemical topics with a group of peers, and increased experience at formal presentation of chemical literature.


Prof. Jeffrey Sigman
Gatehouse 312
(925) 631-8222
email is my preferred method of contact



  Course Information    
        Office Hours

Meeting Times Mon/Wed/Fri 910-1010am. BROH (formarly Gatehouse) 313

Text No formal text

Prerequisite Chem104 and Chem106 (or equivalent).

Homework Homework will be assigned on a daily basis. Please check the Calendar for daily assignments. There will be some assigned problems as well as reading. It is ESSENTIAL that you come to class prepared and have read the assigned material. Otherwise it will impossible to participate in the discussion. You are responsible for any additional background reading and research to understand key terms and concepts present in the articles. I will be available during office hours and via email to go over any difficulties from the assigned reading. You are also encouraged to consult with your peers.

Discussion. You will be graded on daily discussion of research article. I will keep a detailed notebook of the class discussion. Each day in which we discuss a review or research article you will be given a score of 0 - 4 based on your performance in the discussion. 0 = absent, 1 = present but did not participate and 2-4 depending on your level of participation. You will assessed both the number and quality of your questions and comments.

Testing There will be 2 one-hour long exams during the semester.

Exam Dates

Exam #1 TBD

Exam #2 TBD

Final Exam (See final exam schedule)

Alternate exam arrangements will be considered only for excused absences with prior notification.

Presentations Each student is required to give two formal (10 to 15-min.) presentation during normal class time. The focus of the presentations will be on one research article selected by the student and approved by the instructor. Although the presentation is to focus on one article, you are still responsible for doing the appropriate background research to assist in your understanding of the article and to help you to answer questions at the end of the talk. You may use the WEB, Powerpoint, handouts or other formats to aid your presentation.

Additional guidlines --------- Peer Review sheets

Grading Your grade will be based on your performance on two exams (100 points each), two presentations (100 points), and your class discussion (0-4 pts/day).

Final letter grades will be assigned according to the percentage of points that you accumulate during the semester. The approximate ranges for letter grades will be:

A = 100-85% B = 84-70% C = 69-55% D = 54-40%

Your exact letter grade will be determined by a number of factors, including your performance on the final exam, the consistency of your performance during the term, and class participation.

Academic Honesty Students are expected to do their own work on all exams and quizzes. Violations of this policy will be vigorously prosecuted according to SMC Academic Honesty Procedures.

Tips for Success Keep up with the work! Assignments will be updated on a weekly basis. Check our website after each lecture for the assignments due before the next class.

Most reading material will be distibuted via email. Additional handouts will be given out in lecture or be available in the box outside my office. I cannot emphasis enough the importance of keeping up with the assignments. The material builds upon itself as the semester proceeds, so you must learn the early concepts to understand the later material.

Also, you are here at SMC to get the best possible education. Take advantage of the small class size and individual attention that a small liberal arts school can provide. Work together on assignments, and see me in my office as often as possible.

Mon 12:45 - 1:45pm
Wed 12:45 - 1:45pm
Thr 11:00am- 12:45pm
Fri 10:20-11:20pm
Additional Office hours

by appointment