The Chemistry Department is located in the creatively named Chemistry Building and Chemistry Annex. Some of the labs for certain Chem classes, and certain offices are also located in the Sciences Laboratory Building on the first and second floors.

The Department offers BA and BS as well as Masters and PhD. degrees in Chemistry, additional, Forensic, Environmental, Pharmaceutical, and Physical Chemistry, are offered as Applied Chemistry BS degrees.


Not only can you just have your choice of plain vanilla or chocolate A.B. or B.S. degrees in the science, you can now have an emphasis, though the registrar has yet (6-11-08) to add it to the general catalog. The website and department office has more information.

Environmental Chemistry

A multidisciplinary approach to understanding chemistry as it occurs in natural environmental circumstances. Take chemistry courses alongside environmental toxicology, geology, biology, and most other environmental departments on campus.

Forensic Chemistry

Pharmaceutical Chemistry

An excellent choice for those who wish for a career in the pharmaceutical industry. This sort of chemistry has been responsible for many medicinal advances in the recent years.

Physical Chemistry

This is really for people who love physical and theoretical chemistry.


Sorted by type, instead of just number, types explained at each sub-heading. See also the UC Davis General Catalog

General Chemistry

  • 2A. General Chemistry
    • Basic chemistry (PV=nRT, electron configuration, limiting reactant problems, etc). Almost all of basic high school chemistry is reviewed with only a few new insights. Bear in mind - that's still a whole year smushed into ten weeks. Supposedly, the class is harder during Fall Quarter because that's when most of the pre-meds enroll, so if you need the class but aren't a pre-med, sometimes waiting until Winter is the best option.

      - 2A was a piece of cake. Don't worry about it, unless you totally were asleep during high school chem. -PatrickSing

      -I wouldn't put it off out of fear. I thought it was pretty manageable, even with several years since my chemistry experience -SterlingRipleyPhipps

    • If you liked this, you'll like Chem 110A and random chunks of Chem 124A.
  • 2AH Honors General Chemistry - A much smaller class - 100 students. If you qualify based on the assessment tests, definitely take it. The smaller class is worth it. The labs are much cooler than in 2A. For example, when the class covers gas laws, you get to use liquid nitrogen to verify Gay-Lussac's law. When Prof. True teaches this class, the curve is rather generous, being centered somewhere between a B+ and an A-. Don't think that the class is easy, though. Everyone in the class worked their little butts off to get such grades.
    • For Trues Fall 2005 class, an 89% total put me in the A+ Range. Of course, it was the last A+ or 89% total I ever received. —MaxMikalonis
  • 2B. General Chemistry
    • pH (aka solution equilibria) and thermodynamics. The MOST boring of the series and possibly the most difficult. This part of the series has arguably the most painful labs, heavy emphasis on titration and making graphs.
    • If you liked this, you'll like Chem 105/115, Chem 110C and parts of Chem 110B

- This was my favorite of the General Chemistry series, but it was definitely the hardest. Dr. Augustine teaches it during Winter and although he's a tough teacher, he makes lectures entertaining. For example, when lecturing on entropy, he demonstrated it with a forty of King Cobra. -AbbyLawson

  • 2BH. Honors General Chemistry - A much smaller class - 50 students. If you qualify based on the assessment tests or your Chem 2A grade, definitely take it. The smaller class is worth it. However, it's tough. If you go in expecting an easy A - or even an easy C - prepare to be disappointed.
  • 2C. General Chemistry
    • Electrochemistry, radioactivity, transition elements, an introduction to organic chemistry, bonding and a whole mish-mash of other stuff. The most interesting of the series because of the variety (and cool trivia). More concepts and not as many mundane calculations as in A or B.
    • If you liked this, you'll like 124A/B, Chem 105/115/125, and parts of Chem 110B
  • 2CH. Honors General Chemistry - A much smaller class - 25 students. If you qualify based on the assessment tests or your Chem2A or Chem 2B grade, definitely take it. The smaller class is worth it. There are also two three hour labs each week instead of one. REALLY fun experiments that actually mean something. However, this is a very tough class - it's a third semester honors class. It's counterpart - Chem 2C is the most difficult and least taken part of the series. If you go in expecting an easy A - or even an easy C - prepare to be disappointed.
    • This class is worth it in the sense that you already have a strong support group formed if you run into trouble, which with two labs per week and an average professor and one (of two) crazy TA you'll definitely have plenty of. The professor for this course is much better than any chemistry 2C professor you could ever wish for. It is nevertheless a tough class. The average for the first test the past two years has been an F. (Exact numbers witheld to avoid embarressment) —TusharRawat
    • Chem 2CH is TOUGH. But, remember, "F" is a relative term. Many profs aim for a 60 average on the test, which is technically a "D-". Remember the curve - it is your friend. —SarahHillard
    • Chem 2CH can and will run over you if you aren't careful. The two 3hr labs make things much, much more difficult, and the times can limit your options if you, say, want to take Bis 1a the same Quarter (PLEASE DONT!!! TAKE 1B INSTEAD). I mean, it was nice distilling the ethanol from cheap american beer, but it took such a long time. The vast majority of the labs, for all 2h's, are do the 2 series lab, and then take it to that next step. The best thing about 2CH? The other students: No one goes through a full year of Honors Chem and hates it by the end, and the struggle of staying up all night doing your labs is a combination of survival tactics and a bonding experience. After spending up to 9 hrs per week with a group of people, you get to know them. —MaxMikalonis

Organic Chemistry

  • 8A. Organic Chemistry - Basic organic chemistry part I, even less intensive than the 118 series (see below). not for chem majors.
  • 8B. Organic Chemistry - Basic organic chemistry part II.
  • 118A. Organic Chemistry - First in the series of organic chemistry for health sciences majors. Covers SN1, SN2, E1, E2, stereochemistry, spectroscopy, etc. not for chem majors.
    • The 118 series is offered over the summer at a discounted rate, given the increase in the popularity of this series (being the easy o-chem requirement) this might be a good idea. ~DP
    • This class will ease one into Organic Chemistry. A large part of 118A is review from General Chemistry. It begins to get tough when you hit SN1, SN2, E1, and E2 reactions, and alcohol and ether syntheses. If you can, take this class with Dr. Schore. —TusharRawat
    • not too bad of a course. definitely a class where the material is more easily learned when understood rather than memorized. —fredchen
    • Hmmmm . . . I don't remember this course as being "easy", but then again I did take it with Dr. Kurth.—CurlyGirl26
  • 118B. Organic Chemistry - Covers alkane, alkyne, aldehyde, ketone, aromatic and diels alder reactions.
  • 118C. Organic Chemistry - Carboxylic acids and their derivatives, alkyl and acyl amines, ß-dicarbonyl compounds. Huzzah, you're done.
  • 128A. Organic Chemistry - Organic chemistry is evil. Run away. However if you are a chem major, or otherwise forced into taking this class, it is not so bad. This class will cover the first few chapters of the text and go into the basic chemistry and nomenclature of simpler organic compounds (Alkanes, Alkenes, and Alkynes), and have a healthy dose of review from previous chemistry classes. This class should be taken Sophomore year for all chemistry, and chemical engineering majors (or anyone who is equally compelled).
  • 128B. Organic Chemistry - Organic chemistry is evil. Run away. As fast as you can. If you are still stuck as a chemistry major, or somehow otherwise forced to continue in this series, this class will be the most difficult of the three. It picks up where 128A left off, and introduces many functional groups, reactions, synthesis, and introduces spectroscopy. The topic include haloalkanes, alkenes, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, carboxilic acids, ending with adols and esters. The course isn't terrible well suited to the quarter system, however it is possible to survive. This class should be taken in your sophomore year as a chemistry major or chemical engineer.
  • 128C. Organic Chemistry - Organic chemistry is evil. Run away. As fast as you can. In the opposite direction. This class will continue on where the last went off with aromatic compounds, conjugated dyes, amines, azides, carbohydrates and amino acids.
  • 129A. Organic Chemistry Laboratory - Organic chemistry is evil. Run away. As fast as you can. In the opposite direction. Now. This class covers the basics of laboratory practices, starting with distillation. It is a fast paced class so it is always good to arrive on time and be in control, do not arrive late for the first day of lab as there are less seats than in 128A, also bring goggles so you can start work quickly. Good luck.
  • 129B. Organic Chemistry Laboratory - Organic chemistry is evil. Run away. As fast as you can. In the opposite direction. Now. Hurry. This class makes use of all laboratory practices learned in the previous, and focuses mainly on the synthesis of organic products. There are several reactions which will take quite some time in reflux, so bring a book to read or study while you wait.
  • 129C. Organic Chemistry Laboratory - Organic chemistry is evil. Run away. As fast as you can. In the opposite direction. Now. Hurry. While you still can. Don't say I didn't warn you. If you are a chemical engineer, pharmaceutical or environmental chemistry major, you don't need to worry here.
  • 131. Modern Methods of Organic Synthesis - If you didn't like, nay ABSOLUTELY LOVE as though it were your twisted country cousin, or were not very very VERY nobel prize winning good at Chem 128/129 -DO NOT WHATEVER YOU DO TAKE THIS CLASS. I'm dead serious. I still don't know what possessed me...
  • 150. Chemistry of Natural Products - You'll appreciate natural product biosynthesis more if you take BIS 102/103 beforehand.
    • Note on the 118 vs 128/9 series: Having taken some of each of the series, here are my thoughts—the 118 series is very much more lecture-based, and for chem majors, it doesn't really give you the hands-on lab experience that you could benefit from. Of course, if you are a chem major, you should probably be taking an internship, which could make up for any gaps in technical lab skills. However, the 128 classes are also smaller courses, so any questions tend to be able to be answered. —HannahToru

Analytical Chemistry

  • 10 Forensic Chemistry
  • 104. Forensic Chemistry
  • 105. Analytical and Physical Chemical Methods - Lots of the same types of calculations as in Chem 2B. Very little new material, just a lot of more in depth labs and write ups. Very long theory sections. You will spend a great deal of time writing up lab reports as well. There is a lecture in addition to the lab that isn't directly related, and the lab manual may need corrections.
    • Despite being scary the labs are nice in introducing many techniques in chemistry, though sadly not NMR. ~Dp
  • 115. Instrumental Analysis - More 105. Very little new material. Long write ups. Neat experiments (roughly 7).
    • This is easily the most time consuming class I have taken at Davis. The lab manual is a poorly written joke and the teachers tend to have unreasonably high expectations. Many of the analytical instruments are prone to failure at random times so expect much frustration. - DanMasiel
    • Agreed, as a chemistry student progresses in labs, there is less enrollment in the classes which corresponds to a decrease in funding. This is made worse by the increased cost of maintaining the machines. Lab manuals have yet to be revised and this class promises to consume your dreams and leave you mad. ~DP
  • 121. Introduction to Molecular Structure and Spectra - Good class. Lots of hard theory and very little reading of actual spectra. Discusses in-depth the relationship between QM and spectroscopy.
    • note on 121: Decently tough if you don't have a strong pchem background, I imagine. The professor, Nancy True, is really smart, but I'm mixed about her as a teacher. It's clear her desires lie with research, but she's a decent, if overly ambitious, teacher. She grades decently easy though, and encourages group work. —HannahToru
  • 125. Advanced Methods in Physical Chemistry (4) - More spectroscopy. VERY cool stuff. VERY long write ups - only 4 experiments in the quarter.

Inorganic Chemistry

  • 124A. Inorganic Chemistry: Fundamentals - This is one of those classes that focuses a LOT on a very few basic ideas - if you don't understand symmetry and point group assignment, you will have a very difficult time drawing molecular orbital diagrams (the final and hardest topic of the class). Do yourself a favor and take this class before 110B or 107A.
  • 124B. Inorganic Chemistry: Main Group Elements - Lots of memorizing periodic trends and basic facts about the behavior of main group elements. Zero theory. No math above addition and subtraction.
  • 124C. Inorganic Chemistry: d and f Block Elements - Quite a bit of theory. Here we see the return of microstates and reaction mechanisms. Still not a whole lot of math beyond addition.
  • 124L. Laboratory Methods in Inorganic Chemistry - 128A minus the carbon and with more pretty colors. The lab reports don't necessarily have a theory section a la 105, 115 & 125, but the calculations are more complex than the O Chem counterpart. The lab manual and supplement are out of date and the former is usually in short supply in the book store. The class is entirely run by the P.P.Powers research group.
    • The techniques used in this class make many of the labs worth it, NMR, IR, and UV-visible spectroscopy are useful skills that will come in handy for the physical chemistry methods classes. ~DP

Physical Chemistry

  • 107A: Physical Chemistry for bio/other majors... part A
    • These classes (both of them) are offered over the summer at a discounted price. ~DP
  • 107B: Physical Chemistry for bio majors... part 1
  • 110A. Physical Chemistry: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics - Quantum Mechanics. If you like math, have a good working knowledge of Math 21A-C, and enjoy theoretical stuffs, it is a fantastic class.
  • 110B. Physical Chemistry: Properties of Atoms and Molecules - Take 124A first or concurrently, because group theory is not given enough lecture time in this class. Not the most interesting of the chemistry classes. More spectroscopy from 110A, a throwback to 124A and a preview of 110C.
  • 110C. Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics, Equilibria and Kinetics - More and harder Chem 2B.
    • A Note on P-Chem -Physical Chemistry IS difficult. But, I found Organic Chemistry to be MUCH MUCH worse, however. If your math skills are strong, you should be fine. However, if you can get away with taking the Physical Chemistry for life sciences majors (Chem 107/108, I believe) go for that. Also, avoid Ng unless you are madly in love with PowerPoint - he apparently is. — SarahHillard
      • Additional note on pchem: While the 110 series is very math-based, some of the professors (Like Larsen) focus very heavily on theory. The 110 series goes into depth and explains all the other chemistry you've learned before. I think chem majors should probably take the 110 course, personally. —HannahToru

Pharmaceutical Chemistry

  • 130A Pharmaceutical Chemistry - Examination of the design principles and experimental methods used in pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry.
  • 130B Pharmaceutical Chemistry - Continuation of course 130A with emphasis on case studies of various drugs and the use of computational methods in drug design.

Other Chemistry Courses

  • 100. Water Chemistry, a slightly difficult class that focuses heavily on the chemistry in natural aqueous environments.
    • I thought this was a fabulous class. You get a real understanding of why pH not only matters in lab settings, but how it's affected in our environments. It's one of the most useful classes I've come across. - HannahToru
  • 99. Undergraduate Research/Special Study - See 199, same note applies
  • 199. Special Study for Advanced Undergraduates - DO UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH! Now. It is the only way to get into grad school.

- Read the above over again 2 times. It is the best advice I have seen on the wiki. - DanMasiel

-Don't be scared to show up at a professor's office hour and ask them about working in their lab. Most professors love having free undergrad labor, and I've heard a rumor that if a professor has enough undergrads doing 199/194/99 units they can get out of teaching a class. You will gain experience with things that most undergrads never even touch. DO UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH! — NathanSchley

  • Word. It is probably one of the best things I did as an undergrad. Learned a ton and my efforts even culminated in a publication. And I draw upon the skills I learned there even today (and I'm no longer in science!). Do yourself a favor and do research as an undergrad! Yes, I mean, YOU.—CurlyGirl26

Research Groups

For a complete list, see the departmental list of current research groups.

Clubs and Organizations

Chemistry Club



  • Dr. David Britt - Metallobiochemistry focusing on Photosynthesis, EPR.
  • Dr. Donald Land
  • Dr. Ting Guo
  • Dr. Susan Kalzurich
  • Dr. Phillip P. Power


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Perhaps this page would be more useful with personal accounts/summaries of classes instead of a verbatim copy of the General Catalog. After all, you can just link to the General Catalog and the website for the major to give people this information - PhilipNeustrom

I second what PhilipNeustrom said - BryanBell

Yes!!! Please, add your reviews of these classes. Unless you liked organic chemistry. All people who liked organic chemistry will be shot on sight. - SarahHillard

Would anyone provide me more info on Physical Chemistry classes? I have finished General and Organic Chemistry, and I am gonna take physical chemistry in the fall. I have heard too many bad things about physical chemistry. I will appreciate any help. Thanks. - JineshGheeya

Just for note, you can tell a chemist apart from a normal person by the way the pronounce "unionized". —BrentLaabs

I do not see why people have such a hard time with organic chemistry, hence I will be starting to post a bit more information on it. On a side note, unionize is not a word, deionize is what you are looking for. —DavidPoole

  • Organic Chemistry, at least the 118 series, consists of learning an enormous number or rules concerned with an even more enormous number of synthesis reactions. For people who like doing actual reactions with calculations, this course is hell. Rules, rules, and more rules. It is entirely possible for one who hates Chemistry to get a solid A in an O-Chem class, simply by memorizing said rules. That, and the fact that the vast majority of people don't study everyday, is the reason organic chemistry is hated. Oh, did I mention that it is a bit hard? —TusharRawat
    • I completely agree with you, there are far too many rules, exceptions and exceptions to the rules. The actual concepts are quite interesting, but though we have a theory of how everything works, it would be difficult to sit down and prove how it will work. ~DavePoole (survivor)
      • On a side side note, unionize is a word; it just doesn't have too terribly much to do with chemistry. —PaulCherng
      • Having survived O-chem now (I hope), the difficulty is that there are quite a few reagents and functional groups, lets say 10 each minimum, this means that there are easily 100 reactions possible (assuming no reaction is a reaction of sorts); now take this system and add to it the complexity of having multiple functional groups on the same molecule, making synthesis difficult by limiting pathways and everything just all the more complex. Note that functional groups are also reagents and that there may be multiple molecules in the same system. This complexity is the reason why organic chemistry is so damn complicated and difficult. However, it also makes the classes pretty difficult for anyone, so stick in there and just don't fall behind more than everyone else (you don't need to out run the bear). ~DavidPoole
        • the problem with ochem(at least with 118b) is that there is simply too much material to learn in the time given in a quarter and almost no effective strategy of learning the material other than having a photographic memory because there are more exceptions than adherents to the given rules so that every piece of knowledge is pretty unconnected to other pieces —fredchen

2011-12-22 14:30:30   Guys c mon- its not that hard....I took 128A; and its definitely a mind fuck sometimes, but all in all, it makes sense why certain things happen. Its just when you post stuff like "RUN AWAY FROM THIS CLASS" you are telling students not to learn and excel in these classes that benefit learning in general. 118 and 8 seem to be about memorizing reactions while 128 takes it to a different level and asks you why these reactions are occurring. Don't scare people from these classes, encourage a necessary work ethic and learning capability for these students to do well. I'm seriously disappointed in this wiki's need to veer kids off of science classes even if they may be a little bit hard. If you put in the effort, the rewards will be immense. —Kannan

It was intended to be humorous. Some classes, however useful, awesome, and interesting, are just a pain in the ass. Looking back at the edit history, those remarks were made by SarahEdwards, who earned a PhD in chemistry and is now a researcher at Vanderbilt. —WilliamLewis