The overall goals of the chemistry program at Marlboro are for students to master foundational concepts in chemistry, and to develop the skills to apply those concepts in contexts that students find interesting and exciting.

One central concept in chemistry is the connection between atomic structure and atomic properties, and how these properties can be used to predict the physical and chemical behavior of molecules. Another theme we emphasize at Marlboro is that science is a process, not just a collection of facts. In some cases the process is a cycle of observation, investigation, and sharing of results, but there is no one, single ‘scientific method.’ Like all scientists, chemists employ variations on this ‘method,’ but all variations are based on an empirical approach to the study of matter.

An inquiry-based approach to learning is embedded in our curriculum. Through classroom courses, laboratory courses, and tutorials students develop the skills to conduct their own investigations. With a conceptual foundation, and the skills to apply those concepts, students are then poised to pursue advanced work in topics they find exciting. Biochemistry is a strong theme at Marlboro, but students also explore a wide array of topics such as environmental chemistry, medicinal compounds in plants, immunology, enzyme kinetics, endocrinology, and advanced materials technology.

While chemists enjoy referring to their discipline as “the central science” — chemists apply principles of physics to their study of matter, and chemistry has applications in all aspects of biology - the overarching skills of writing, collaboration and managing a large project are emphasized throughout the chemistry program.

Other topics, such as analytical chemistry, are woven into many classroom and laboratory courses, and tutorials in physical and inorganic chemistry are offered for advanced students as needed.

Areas of Interest for Plan-level Work:

Todd Smith

  • Protein biochemistry
  • Environmental chemistry
  • Chemistry of food and cooking
  • Endocrinology
  • Molecular biology
  • Immunology
  • Neuroscience
  • Human physiology
  • Cell biology

Allison Turner, Laboratory Coordinator

  • Microbiology: antimicrobials and infectious diseases
  • Human Biology: laboratory investigation of chemotherapy
  • Environmental Science fieldwork
  • Natural Products Drug Discovery

Sample tutorial topics

Todd Smith

  • HIV, the Immune System, and AIDS
  • Bioinformatics
  • Neuroscience
  • Cancer genetics & treatments

Allison Turner, Laboratory Coordinator

  • Plant Compounds as Potential Anti-Cancer Treatments
  • Natural Forest Disturbance: Storm Damage and Recovery
  • Bats and White Nose Syndrome
  • Microbiological Water Quality in Four Cambodian Villages
  • Vernal Pools: Assessment Tools for Environmental Health


(a mostly random selection of Marlboro microdestinations)