MCLA Adds Biochemistry Concentration


The field of biochemistry has been the matter of discussion and study in the science and medical communities due to its growing number of advances. This popularity has extended all the way to MCLA with the addition of the biochemistry concentration.

Dr. Carolyn Dehner, assistant professor of chemistry, explained that biochemistry is the study of biological processes by using chemical concepts to understand and explain these different occurrences. She made it clear that biochemistry is not simply a combination of biology and chemistry.

“In biochemistry, we look at biological phenomenon at the cellular and molecular level, and ask: why?” Dehner said. “To answer this question, we must take an excruciatingly close look at the structures and chemical reactions involved in the process we’re investigating.”

Students who plan on going into the medical or pharmacology fields would benefit by concentrating in biochemistry. According to Dehner, biochemistry majors will understand, at the molecular level, the processes of health and disease, allowing them to be more competitive when applying for graduate school.

Cynthia Brown, vice president of Academic Affairs at MCLA, assured the importance of adding this concentration.

“This is where some of the more cutting edge research is being done in the intersection between chemistry and biology,” Brown said. “It is a great way to give that opportunity to our students and prepares them to explore some different career options and different graduate school options than they could have otherwise explored.”

The significance of biochemistry lies in its interdisciplinary nature. Dehner explained biochemistry is a science that addresses chemistry, biology, and environmental science, allowing students to absorb different perspectives to solve world problems.

“This multi-viewpoint approach is needed to tackle our big problems such as sustainability, making it indispensable for our future,” Dehner said.

The addition of the biochemistry concentration was decided because of growing student interest and Dehner’s expertise. She is a microbial biochemist who has conducted research at several academic institutions including Smith College and University of Utah.

“It always helps to have an organized program of study so that people who are looking at a transcript can say you had a concentration in biochemistry, these were the courses you did, this is the research you’ve participated in, whatever it was that you did so that people have assurance that you had not only a breath of exposure but depth of knowledge,” Brown said.

MCLA will use its current faculty and resources to build this concentration. New professors will not be hired, unless there is substantial growth in the number of students enrolled.

While the addition of biochemistry is not meant to bring in more students, Brown would be delighted if it did. She believes that showing prospective students the greater range of academic opportunity will elevate our school and student body.