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 BIO 130, the two biochemistry classes BIO 349 and CHEM 350, and the Biochemistry Senior Seminar, BICH 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 (BIO 395 or CHEM 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 the 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 Requirements


(5 courses)

BIO 130Introduction to Cell and Molecular Biology

4 units

BIO 349Biochemistry I

4 units

Students must select one course from the list below:

BIO 105Marine Biology

4 units

BIO 106Biology of California

4 units

BIO 110Organisms on Earth

4 units

BIO 115General Zoology

4 units

Students must select one course from the list below:

BIO 221Molecular Biology

4 units

BIO 224Genetic Analysis

4 units

BIO 226Cell Biology

4 units

Students must select one course from the list below:

BIO 320Developmental Biology

4 units

BIO 323Histology

4 units

BIO 325Microbial Diversity

4 units

BIO 326Molecular Evolution and Phylogenomics

4 units

BIO 330Immunology

4 units

BIO 333Neurobiology

4 units

BIO 336Microbial Pathogenesis

4 units


(6 courses)

CHEM 220Organic Chemistry I

4 units

CHEM 221Organic Chemistry II

4 units

CHEM 240Integrated Concepts in General Chemistry

4 units

CHEM 350Biochemistry

4 units

Students must select one course from the list below:

CHEM 120Foundations of General Chemistry

4 units

CHEM 130Advanced Placement General Chemistry

4 units

Students must select one course from the list below:

CHEM 300Physical Chemistry I

4 units

CHEM 301Biophysical Chemistry

4 units


Students are required to take both courses listed below:

Calculus 1Scientific Modeling and Differential Calculus

4 units

Calculus 2Scientific Modeling and Integral Calculus

4 units


Students are required to select one option (2 required courses) from the list below:

Option 1 -

PHYS 110Introductory Mechanics

4 units

PHYS 120Introductory Electricity and Magnetism

4 units

Option 2 -

PHYS 115General Physics I

4 units

PHYS 125General Physics II

4 units


Students are to enroll in BICH 490 (2 units) each semester of their senior year.


Students majoring in Biochemistry will satisfy the second-stage writing requirement by completing a research paper during the fall semester of BICH 490, Senior Seminar. Students should familiarize themselves with the departmental requirement at the time of declaring the major. Students should meet with the Biochemistry Program chair for detailed information about the writing requirement process.


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.


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.


Biochemistry Courses


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., U.C. Berkeley

Jeffrey Cannon

Assistant Professor, Chemistry; Advisory Committee, Biochemistry

B.A. Occidental College; Ph.D. U.C. Irvine

Shana Goffredi

Associate Professor, Biology; Advisory Committee, Biochemistry

B.A., University of San Diego; Ph.D., U.C. 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

Karen Molinder
Non-Tenure-Track Assistant Professor, Biology
B.A. Occidental College, Ph.D., U.C. Los Angeles

Gretchen North

John W. McMenamin Endowed Chair in Biology; Advisory Committee, Biochemistry; Advisory Committee Urban and Environmental Policy

B.A. Stanford University; M.A., University of Connecticut; M.A., College of William and Mary; Ph.D., U.C. Los Angeles

Cheryl Okumura

Assistant Professor, Biology

B.A. Pomona College; Ph.D. U.C. Los Angeles

Marcella Raney

Assistant Professor, Kinesiology
B.A., Occidental College; Ph.D., University of Southern California

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., U.C. San Diego

Kerry Thompson

Associate Professor, Biology

B.A., M.A., Ph.D., U.C. Los Angeles

Andrew K. Udit

Associate Professor, Chemistry; Advisory Committee, Biochemistry

H.B.Sc., University of Toronto; Ph.D., California Institute of Technology