Chemistry / Biochemistry
Department Chair:
Rebecca Whelan

Administrative Assistant:
Rachel Wysocki

Department Email:

Phone: (440) 775-8300
Fax: (440) 775-6682

Science Center A263
119 Woodland St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Office Hours: 8:00-noon | 1:00-4:30pm

News and Announcements

News and Announcements


Please stay tuned for updates as we transition to the new website platform.

Thank you!



We are pleased to share that Jesse Braxton was chosen by the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation as a member of its 2016 cohort of Teaching Fellows. He is the recipient of one of 34 Teaching Fellowships awarded to early-career, high school mathematics and science teachers this year.

Jesse is committed to teaching chemistry to high school students in the U.S. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from Oberlin College in 2006 and a Master of Science in secondary education: science from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016. This fall, he will begin his first year of teaching at The Workshop School in Philadelphia, PaPrior to transitioning to the field of education, Jesse worked as an organizer for several years.

The Foundation provides support and professional development designed specifically for early-career, high school mathematics and science teachers through its signature program—the KSTF Teaching Fellows Program. With a focus on supporting teacher-led educational improvement in the classroom and beyond, KSTF Teaching Fellows gain access to a comprehensive suite of benefits for five years, including summer stipends, funds for professional development, grants for teaching materials, mentoring and support from experienced teachers and teacher educators, support for teacher leadership activities, and membership in a community of more than 300 like-minded peers in 40 states.

Cassie Zentner

Congratulations to Cassie Zentner,  OC '13, for receiving the Presidential Fellowship from MIT.

She was one of 100 incoming students of all MIT graduate programs to receive the award. GREAT JOB CASSIE.

Congratulations to our very own Kirk Warren who has been nominated for a "Professor Props" award. This program gives first year students the opportunity to recognize mentors, advisors, faculty, and others that have made positive contribution to the first year experience. Kirk was nominated by a student in General Chemistry.

oertel at symposiumAnnette Richards, Catherine Oertel           

Annette Richards, Cornell University and Catherine Oertel, Oberlin College

Music and Materials—Art and Science of Organ Pipe Metal

Written by Arthur L. Robinson

When one reflects on how musical sounds are made, basically blowing air through a pipe or plucking a string, it is hardly surprising that the materials of which the pipes, the strings, and their enclosures are made play a huge role in the nature and quality of the sound produced. In their Tuesday Symposium X presentation, Annette Richards (Cornell University) and Catherine Oertel (Oberlin College) elegantly and cogently explored this connection in the context of how researchers hope materials science can undo the ravages of time and the elements that have been degrading, and may even ultimately render mute, the magnificent historical organs that are cultural treasures of northern Europe.   >>> more

Congratulations to Michael Isaac Jacobs for winning the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship award for Chemical Structure, Dynamics, and Mechanism. He is attending the University of California, Berkeley

Congratulations to Holden Wan Hong Lai for winning the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship award for Chemistry of Life Processes.  He is now attending Stanford University.

Congratulations to Ren Wiscons for winning the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship Honorable Mention for Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanochemistry.

Rowsell Memorial Fund Established

The Chemistry and Biochemistry Department is pleased to announce that an endowed fund honoring the memory of Assistant Professor Jesse Rowsell has been created. The Jesse Rowsell Chemistry and Biochemistry Student Research Fund will provide financial resources to students doing scientific research projects with preference given to high achieving research students. Gifts intended for the Fund can be directed toward the Oberlin College Office of Development.

CONGRATULATIONS!  Santino Stropoli  For Winning Best Poster Award, 2016 American Meterological Society Conference, New Orleans.

Science Soiree

Are you interested in graduate school?  The ACS Directory of Graduate Research (DGRweb) can help.  

Congrats to Ren Wiscons '15 for winning the @MiTeGen - @SPSNational Undergraduate Poster Prize and Andrea Goltz for winning the Crystal Engineering Communications Poster Prize at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Crystallographic Association.

Ren Wiscon and Andrea Goltz

Congrats to our Award Winners!

Our Graduate Slideshow and Award Dinner Pics

Congrats to Weelic Chong for receiving the Nu Rho Psi grant for the cadmium/Parkinson's Disease research.

Professor Jesse Rowsell Memorial Presentation.

Fall 2014

Professor Lisa Ryno

“Some students think that they aren’t scientists until they leave these walls, but that’s not true. They are young scientists now,” says Lisa Ryno, assistant professor of chemistry. Ryno, who began her Oberlin career this summer, plans to open her lab to students for the first time this winter term to equip them with the tools they will need to further her research in addition to conducting experiments of their own design.   MORE>>

A Leader in Supercomputing.

The new computational cluster will be far more powerful than the existing 64-node “Beowulf” cluster acquired in 2005 with NSF support...MORE>>

Summer 2014

Orange is the New Learning Tool

CONGRATULATIONS! Ren Wiscons  for receiving The DUPAN Diffraction Workshop Best Poster Award. Also attending the workshop was Holden Lai, Claudia Nunes, and Calvin Gang,

Earlier this year Ren attended the MOSSCS Conference This conference features primarily graduate student presentations and undergraduate posters; She placed second in the presentation division.
l-r Ren Wiscons, Professor Rowsell, Calvin Gang and Holden Lai

CONGRATULATIONS to Holden Lai and Sarel Loeus for winning the  2014 Goldwater Scholarship Award.  ARTICLE

Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Rebecca Whelan recently coauthored an article titled "MUC16 (CA125): tumor biomarker to cancer therapy, a work in progress." The article appears in the journal Molecular Cancer, and provides an in-depth review of the current understanding of the structure, biochemistry, and physiological function of most widely used biomarker for ovarian cancer. Kevin Hu (OC '11) is a co-author.

Spring 2014

Congratulations to all our Students!

Awards List

Awards Dinner YouTube Videos

First Year Awards 

2nd and 3rd Yr Awards

Senior Awards

ACS Awards

Staff Gifts; Cindi

ACS Certificates

Faculty Gifts

Staff Gifts; Hill, Warren

Awards Dinner 2014

Awards Dinner Photo Gallery

Graduates and Faculty

Congratulations to Holden Lai and Sarel Loewus for winning the 2014 Goldwater Scholarship Award. ARTICLE

Professor Whelan along with Jamie Shallcross and Rae Eaton present at Pittcon. Pittcon News Article

Spring 2013

Congrats to Yuhui Chen for receiving the Earnest B. Yeager Award for research in spectroscopy.

Congrats to Daniel Starer-Stor for receiving the Goldwater Honorable Mention.

Congrats to all our students who received awards and scholarships!  2013 Chemistry and Biochemistry Awards list.

We had a great time at the Annual Awards Dinner.  Here are pictures of the celebration and pictures of the graduates.

Pictures from the Banquet;  Slideshow presentation at the Banquet;  GRADS headshots;   GRADS presentation

Fall 2012

Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Rebecca Whelan participated in the Dreyfus Foundation Teacher-Scholar Symposium, “Research Frontiers in the Chemical Sciences,” held October 26 at the New York Academy of Sciences. She shared one aspect of her current research in a poster presentation titled “Selection of DNA aptamers for an ovarian cancer cell line using high-throughput sequencing.” She was also one of five symposium participants invited to give a teaching talk. She presented on efforts to make science students more confident and effective writers with a talk titled “Helping your students get it ‘write’: envisioning science writing pedagogy beyond the laboratory report.” The Dreyfus Foundation supports advancement in the chemical sciences through nationally competitive grants and awards. Whelan was one of six winners of the foundation’s 2011 Teacher-Scholar Award.

2012 Congrats

CONGRATULATIONS to Ben Altheimer and Alison O'Connor for receiving the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship!!!

CONGRATULATIONS to Adam Birdsall and Melanie Malinas for being among the winners of the 2012 Goldwater Scholarship Competition!!

CONGRATULATIONS to Liv Dedon, Adam Birdsall and Joe Hamilton for their Meeting in Miniature awards!

Congratulations to Catherine Oertel for receiving the NSF early career grant.

2011 Congrats

Congratulations to Professor Whelan. She was selected for a Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award. The Dreyfus Foundation makes about half-dozen of the Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar awards each year to promising scholars in the chemical sciences at predominately undergraduate institutions at an early stage in their academic careers. The competition each year is strong, and, based on a written proposal and institutional nomination, the recipients are recognized for their accomplishments in scholarly research with undergraduates and their commitment to teaching.

Professor Whelan Receives Cancer Research Grant  CONGRATULATIONS!

Congratulations to Ben Jakubowski '11, who has been awarded the Friends of the Library Research Award for 2010/11, for the research paper he produced in Chemistry 361 (Bioanalytical) last semester, entitled "Controversies in “-omics” diagnostics development."

The award committee said of the submitted paper:

"The Research Award Committee found your paper exemplary in all categories considered:  range of resources used, thoroughness and creativity in the use of resources, and attention to accuracy and detail. Not only did your paper demonstrate research excellence, we found it engaging and a real pleasure to read."


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