The Chemical Physics Concentration

If you are interested in pursuing the chemical physics concentration, please arrange an appointment with me via email. I am the new Chemical Physics concentration advisor and a former Brown Chemical Physics concentrator!

Chemical Physics is an interdisciplinary field at the crossroads of chemistry and physics and is administered jointly by the two departments. The concentration provides students with a broad-based understanding in fundamental molecular sciences, as well as a background for graduate studies in physical chemistry, chemical physics, or molecular engineering. Concentrators are required to take twenty courses in chemistry, physics, and mathematics, although approved courses in applied mathematics, biology, computer science, geological sciences, or engineering may be substitutes. Chemical Physics concentrators are also advised to take at least six courses in the humanities and social sciences. Like all graduating students, Chemical Physics concentrators must satisfy two WRIT requirements by the end of their 7th semester. Since Chemical Physics is an exclusively Sc.B. degree, students must complete two semesters of independent research before graduating. Chemical Physics concentrators at all levels (first-year through seniors) are actively involved in research with faculty members in both departments.

Standard Chemical Physics Course Program
CHEM0330          Equilibrium, Rate, and Structure
CHEM0350          Organic Chemistry
CHEM0500          Inorganic Chemistry
CHEM1140          Physical Chemistry: Quantum Chemistry
PHYS0070           Analytical Mechanics
PHYS0140           Introduction to Relativity and Quantum Physics
PHYS0470           Electricity and Magnetism
MATH0190         Advanced Placement Calculus (Physics/Engineering)
MATH0200         Intermediate Calculus (Physics/Engineering)
MATH0520         Linear Algebra

Select one course in statistical mechanics:
CHEM1150         Physical Chemistry: Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics
PHYS1530          Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics

Choose 7 electives primarily from 1000- and 2000-level courses in physics and chemistry.

Select two semesters of independent research:
CHEM0970          Undergraduate Research in Chemistry (First Semester)
CHEM0980          Undergraduate Research in Chemistry (Second Semester)
PHYS1990           Senior Conference Course

Course Tips

  • Many concentrators have fulfilled one or both calculus requirements before attending Brown. In place of these requirements, concentrators are encouraged to consider classes in pure mathematics (e.g., MATH1130, MATH1140, MATH1530, or MATH1540), applied mathematics (e.g., APMA0350, APMA0360, APMA0090, or APMA0160), or computer science (e.g., CSCI0150 or CSCI0170).
  • Popular elective courses in Chemistry include: Advanced Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM1060), Chemical Biology (CHEM1230), Biochemistry (CHEM1240), Nanoscale Materials: Synthesis and Applications (CHEM1700), Advanced Thermodynamics (CHEM2010), Statistical Mechanics (CHEM2020), Solid State Chemistry (CHEM2320), and Graduate Quantum Mechanics (CHEM2770/2780).
  • Popular elective courses in Physics include: Introduction to Cosmology (PHYS1280), Advanced Electromagnetic Theory (PHYS1510), Computational Physics (PHYS1600), Biological Physics (PHYS1610), Quantum Mechanics (PHYS2050), Quantum Mechanics (PHYS2060), Advanced Quantum Mechanics (PHYS2070), Statistical Mechanics (PHYS2140), Astrophysics and Cosmology (PHYS2280), Group Theory (PHYS2340), Solid State Physics I (PHYS2410), Advanced Statistical Mechanics (PHYS2470), and Biological Physics (PHYS2630).
  • Many of the statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics in physics and chemistry cover similar material. Please shop these in both departments to get a feel for the specific examples each department emphasizes (and, not to mention, the instructors!).
  • Do not hesitate to start thinking about your independent research courses early. If you are thinking about these the summer before Semester 7, you are already running late.
  • Please do think about structuring your courses so as to complete your WRIT requirement sooner rather than later.
Research Advice and Useful Links

Research enhances your understanding of the courses you are studying, while also exposing you to a wide range of ideas and interesting people and places. It also enables you to prove your mettle against challenging problems that confront science and our society. You should get involved as soon as possible!

If you are interested in research, please look up professors at Brown in your research discipline and contact those that tantalize you stating your interests and providing your CV/resume. Brown has several mechanisms for supporting research any time of the year, including, most importantly, the Brown Undergraduate and Teaching Research Assistantships (UTRA) Program. You should also consider summer internships at other institutions through the NSF REU program and other similar Department of Energy programs (typically, each of the DOE laboratories has its own program). If you are interested in conducting summer research through one of these programs, you should start to prepare an application package the winter before!

Brown UTRA Program
NSF REU Programs in Chemistry
NSF REU Programs in Physics
DOE Research Programs and Internships