Colgate University

First-Year Course Offerings — Fall 2022

FSEM 137   Molecules that Rock Your World: Energy, Food, War, and Population Expansion
RestrictionsNo 2025 2024 2023
Core AreaScientific Perspectives

Faculty Profile for Professor Keith

Elements, like iron, and alloys, like bronze, have entire “ages” named after them. Students read accounts of how elements and molecules have affected the course of civilization from ancient to current times. Students may be familiar with notorious elements like uranium and plutonium and their impact on world events, but how did tin change the course of history? Moving quickly from elements to molecules, students look at some of the roles molecules have played in colonization, health, environment, lifestyle, and so forth. The emphasis is not on the history of molecules, but rather molecules in history. As students explore these interesting histories, they pull in a few of the relevant scientific observations and molecular structures that give rise to the important characteristics of particular “world rocking” molecules. Coursework is centered on outside reading and class discussion with the addition of some short basic lectures on fundamental chemistry to provide context. The plan for this fall includes Uranium (energy and weapons), Salt (food preservation and conquest), Nitrogen (food production and explosives), Water (clean drinking and infrastructure), Ethanol (from fermentation and distillation to use and abuse), and Progesterone (birth control and women's rights). Students who successfully complete this seminar will receive credit for CORE 158S and satisfy the Scientific Perspective core requirement.

Jason M. Keith is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Colgate University. His research is based on the application of Density Functional Theory to various projects involving electronic structure, spectroscopy and mechanism. His primary research efforts focus on transition metal systems. While his research tends to focus on fundamental concepts such as bonding, applied projects in his group are more commonplace and are often related to clean energy and the environment.