Welcome to the Department of Chemistry!
You come to the Chemistry program at Michigan at an auspicious and exciting time. Most of our classes and labs are in the modern and pleasant new Chemistry facility. The faculty have very recently designed a new and modern curriculum that emphasizes "how chemists think". It has received wide attention outside this University. In the last decade we have appointed sixteen new faculty who bring freshness and youthful energy to the program. It is an especially stimulating time to be a chemistry concentrator.
But why study Chemistry? You are considering for your concentration a discipline that is challenging and that stretches the imagination. At the same time Chemistry remains practical and down to earth. Chemists analyze, synthesize, quantitate and design materials. We relish creating models and theories that can rationalize what happens in the laboratory. We enjoy discussing our experiments and ideas with each other as well as with physicists, biologists, computer scientists and with experts in electronics and materials science. Each day in our experiments we use sophisticated instrumentation such as lasers and magnetic resonance spectrometers (called magnetic imaging over in the hospital). In other words, we interface with a myriad of other disciplines and fields.
The study of chemistry prepares individuals for the obvious real-life jobs in chemical industry, education and related fields. More fundamentally it develops the ability to solve problems and to think critically. These latter skills will be more valuable to you than any specific facts, theories and techniques you will master in your chemistry classes. Put simply, the study of chemistry provides a vehicle for obtaining an education for life in the broadest sense.
The department is committed to providing you with a first class education. You are invited to accept the challenge we offer to grow and mature under our guidance. Let me present you with another more specific, short term challenge. Set a goal to "get to know" one or two people in this department over the next year. This will take some initiative on your part since establishing a relationship requires effort on both sides. One such person might be a professor whom you regularly visit during office hours or in whose laboratory you decide to start research. Another might be a graduate student teaching assistant who tutors you in a class or lab. Another such person could be the advisor assigned to monitor your chemistry and academic program. We extend this offer of person-to-person chemistry to you and advise that it could be a catalyst for some interesting transformations.