Biochemistry and Molecular Biology are interdisciplinary programs each deeply rooted in the traditional disciplines of Chemistry and Biology, respectively. Recognizing that boundaries are fuzzy, each of these programs seeks to draw heavily on it’s disciplinary neighbor to enable a more complete understanding of the physical world of biological systems at the molecular scale. Our faculty are committed to helping students acquire the ability to:
1. Think critically about biologically relevant systems and processes at the molecular level.
2. Integrate across the biology-chemistry boundary.
3. Connect biochemistry and molecular biology to the wider world.
4. Communicate scientific information effectively.
5. Creatively apply modern laboratory and computational approaches to new research questions.
To accomplish this mission, we:
1. Design courses to ensure that students acquire content knowledge in chemistry and biology that enables them to ask interesting and relevant questions in biochemistry and molecular biology.
2. Offer investigative, student-directed, and inquiry-based laboratory experiences using cutting-edge facilities and equipment.
3. Assign projects that demand in-depth analysis and a critical stance.
4. Maintain active research programs and integrate our scholarship into classroom teaching and student mentoring.
5. Promote close student-faculty collaborations on original research, through the Summer Science Scholars program, research courses, paid positions, and volunteer opportunities.
6. Maintain strong connections to our parent disciplines of Chemistry and Biology while connecting to related interdisciplinary programs, including Neuroscience and Environmental Studies.
7. Create opportunities for students to interact with the broader community.
In the context of a liberal education, we want our students to gain a profound appreciation for science as a way of knowing about the world. We expect them to: 1) engage directly in the scientific process through experimentation; 2) understand the process by which new ideas are generated and tested; 3) perceive the role of science as a generator of new knowledge and as an instrument for social change; 4) learn to approach new ideas and concepts with a healthy scientific skepticism.
The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology programs work to equip students with the following experiences, knowledge and skills:
1. Students will demonstrate fluency with the contextualized, discipline-specific language of molecular scale biologically relevant systems. They will be capable of understanding and critically evaluating primary research literature as well as crafting such language themselves.
2. Technical ability. Students will demonstrate the ability to use both traditional and state-of-the-art laboratory and computational techniques.
3. Intellectual ability. The ability to design and implement experiments which can investigate physical phenomena ranging in scale from a low molecular weight biologically active chemicals to complex molecular processes in multicellular organisms.
4. Content Knowledge. Goals 1-3 require an appropriate level of familiarity with chemical structures and molecular/cellular processes involving biological molecules.
The program in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Kenyon draws from courses taught in the departments of Chemistry and Biology. As such, the majority of assessment happens within those departments. In each department, the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program is integral to decisions about assessment. Assessment data are also considered by the BMB faculty for relevance and importance to the interdisciplinary program.
1. Each of the supporting departments utilizes primary trait analysis of written material submitted as part of the senior exercise. Scored rubrics enable results of these analyses to be tabulated and reviewed annually.
2. Each of the supporting departments administers standardized national exams to their students at appropriate points in the curriculum. The data are tabulated and tracked longitudinally and compared with previous classes and the national pool of participants. Standardized exams are especially useful for tracking knowledge of content.
3. Each of the supporting departments attempts to maintain contact with their graduates and note their achievements. Early career success in the field is a strong measure of the quality of undergraduate training.
4. Each of the supporting departments performs exit interviews with graduating seniors. Their comments help reveal strengths and weakness of the curriculum and of the pedagogical techniques we employ.
5. While each of the supporting departments conducts annual meetings with their majors, the co-chairs of the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology program also meet annually with students in the BMB progam. Their comments also help reveal strengths and weakness of the curriculum and of the pedagogical techniques we employ.
6. Each of the supporting departments engages in the regular college General Education Assessment Report for select courses.
7. The BMB program is subject to self-study and external review on the regular college schedule.
In the annual meeting between the program co-chairs and BMB majors, curricular and/or procedural issues identified are brought back to the supporting departments for resolution. Each of the supporting departments engages in annual evaluations of some of the data collected above. For both departments, this includes the Departmental Outcomes Assessment Report. On differing annual schedules, the departments undertake a longitudinal examination of standardized exam scores. Each department also annually examines the compiled primary trait analyses scores generated by the written senior exercises. Select faculty from both departments meet annually to review all forms of feedback. These discussions have led to, and will continue to lead to, dynamic changes in the structure and content of departmental curricula to ensure that they adequately serve BMB majors.