Get Involved

A college education is more than just taking courses. Meet new people, apply your skills and stretch beyond your comfort zone. Make your education an experience.

  • Chemistry Club: Members share their love of chemistry with the community in an annual demonstration that draws hundreds.
  • Healthcare Advisory Board: Dedicated to connecting students to meaningful shadowing and mentoring opportunities, with representatives from 10 different healthcare positions. 
  • Lab Assistantships: Students often work as lab assistants after their first year. 
  • Thornton Biology Research Program: Helps undergraduates do high-quality, original research in biology and related fields—including chemistry.


Dr. Sean Markey


Sean Markey
Sean Markey

Dr. Sean Markey

From truck driver to neurosurgeon—thanks to Western and its nurturing professors. 

Dr. Sean Markey is a 1993 graduate of Western. He earned his medical degree in 1997 from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, where he also completed his surgical internship and neurosurgery residency. He is board certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery.

Dr. Markey has served as the Director of Neurosurgery at Littleton Adventist Hospital and currently serves as the Director of Neurosurgery at Parker Adventist Hospital. He also serves as faculty for a number of medical device companies, which includes ongoing work in the development of new spinal surgery techniques. He has been listed in 5280 magazine as one of Denver’s top doctors for his work with brain and spine disorders. Dr. Markey currently serves as the Neurosurgical Consultant to the Denver Broncos.

Dr. Markey is an active member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Colorado Neurosurgical Society, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the Western Neurological Society. He and his wife, Kristina, currently reside in Denver and have three daughters. Outside of medicine, Dr. Markey enjoys skiing, biking and automobiles.

In 2015, Dr. Markey spoke at the Commencement Ceremony for Western Colorado University. 

Eric Loewen


Eric Loewen headshot
Eric Loewen headshot

Eric Loewen

Eric Loewen's recycling reactor may 'save the world.'

Western alumnus Eric Loewen has twice counted among Esquire magazine’s “Best and Brightest”–in 2005 and 2009–for developing a new type of nuclear reactor that could, in Esquire’s words, “save the world.”

Yet he notes a key benefit of the attention was an invitation to speak at Western’s 2010 commencement, where his nephew Brett Sargent graduated with a degree in Computer Science.

“My 15 minutes of fame are over and I get to speak at the Western College University graduation in May,” he said at the time. “I’m happy and contented.”

Loewen, who graduated from Western in 1983 with dual degrees in Mathematics and Chemistry, works for GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy. He is a key advocate and developer of Generation IV liquid-sodium fast nuclear reactors. The process reduces radioactive waste (in fact, it can recycle waste from light-water reactors), does not emit carbon dioxide (one of the major contributors to global warming) and automatically shuts itself down in an emergency.

While at Western, Loewen–an avid skier reared in Leadville–tried out for to the Nordic ski team as a walk on. Coach Ken MacLennan quickly spotted his talent and drive, and granted him an athletic scholarship. Loewen credits MacLennan for some key lessons in life.

“He had a way of conducting himself,” Loewen says. “His biggest thing was, ‘Don’t tell me how good you are; show me.’ This was how he ran the ski program. He wanted us to ski and do well in our studies.”

He cites other mentors at Western, such as the late Ted Violett, his Physics professor, whom he calls “a father figure”; Mathematics professor Dean McIntyre; and Richard Jaeger, who “showed up my senior year, and I competed a great year in Organic Chemistry.

“Had he been there all four years,” Loewen continues, “I might have gone directly into graduate school instead of the Navy.”

Following his junior year, Loewen had enrolled in the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate program. While he recalls it was tough competing with other students from engineering, rather than liberal arts, schools, he graduated second in his class of 45 in the Naval Nuclear Power School and went on to become a lieutenant. His 10-year naval career included teaching in the same program, as well as commanding a reserve unit in Madison, Wisc. (where he earned both master’s and doctoral degrees), and serving as an officer aboard the USS Long Beach.

While his ship was escorting Kuwaiti oil tankers in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war, he had an epiphany.

“The situation I was in just wasn’t my passion,” he says. “I realized how truly dependent on oil we are. I wanted to work toward a better energy mix in our country and in our world.”

This helped spur Loewen to pursue development of the sodium fast reactor, a potentially safer technology that can process waste from other reactors. If widely deployed, advocates claim, it could free the world from dependence on fossil fuels, solve many thorny problems with nuclear waste and slow – or stop – global warming. Loewen has campaigned to restart federal-government support for the technology, both in his role as chief consulting engineer for advanced plants technology at GE-Hitachi in Wilmington, N.C., and as a recent president of the American Nuclear Society.

Loewen has a daughter and son, who like him have become endurance athletes, competing in cross country and triathlon races. His daughter, Zatha, was admitted to the Naval Academy, and at last report, his son was considering Western. Loewen and his family have also fostered 11 children, and he teaches surfing to autistic children.


Scholarships associated with academic programs usually have a specific scholarship application form that can easily be obtained by contacting that academic program's office or visiting that academic program's web page. If you have any questions, please contact the Financial Aid office at 970.943.3085 or 800.876.5309.

 Charlesworth, William Memorial Scholarship

Available to:

The applicant has applied to and has been accepted for admission to Western and is pursuing a major in Mathematics or related Natural Sciences. The applicant has demonstrated a need for financial assistance. The applicant has demonstrated an interest and is active in inter-collegiate athletics. Preference should be given to entering freshmen; however, all classes, freshmen through senior, are eligible. Preference should be given to applicants whose study time is limited by family obligations or the need to earn income. No preference should be given based on the sex of the applicant. Preference should be given to applicants from Delta County, Colo. or the Western Slope of Colorado.

Provided by:

Established with the Western Colorado University Foundation to perpetuate the memory of William Charlesworth, a 1954 graduate of Western Colorado University. The express purpose of the fund is to provide financial assistance to student-athletes pursuing majors in mathematics or related natural sciences.


Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:

The chair of Mathematics and Computer Science and a representative from the Athletic Department appointed by the Athletic Director. A representative from the Natural Sciences Department shall be on the selection committee.


Contact the Mathematics & Computer Science Department or the Athletic Department for application and deadline information.

Mathematics & Computer Science Department: 970.943.2015 - Hurst Hall 128
Athletic Department: 970.943.2079 - Paul Wright Gym 201.

 Lawrence, A. W. Memorial Scholarship

Available to:

Students majoring in Biology or Chemistry.

Provided by:

Family and friends of Aubrey W. Lawrence who served as Professor of Chemistry and Chairman of the Division of Natural Science and Mathematics.


Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:

Science Scholarship Selection Committee.


Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information. 970.943.2015 - Hurst Hall 128

 Mckenny, Casey James Memorial Scholarship

Available to:

Full-time juniors or seniors (qualified juniors shall be given preference over seniors). Must be a declared major in the Natural and Environmental Sciences Department. Must maintain at least a 3.2 GPA. Recipients must follow Casey's example of academic promise, love for the outdoors and service to fellow students demonstrated by volunteering in the community and involvement in campus activities and service.

Provided by:

Gifts by Bill and Monica McKenny, Casey's parents, as well as other family members and friends.


Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:

Natural & Environmental Sciences faculty in consultation with the Dean of Students and Bill and Monica McKenny.


Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information. 970.943.2015 - Hurst Hall 128

 Nauman, James D. Scholarship

Available to:

Full-time, Colorado residents who have a major in a field within the Natural & Environmental Science Department. Must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 and demonstrated financial need.

Provided by:

Dr. James Nauman, who attended Western from 1945-49.


Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:

Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.


Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department  for application and deadline information. 970.943.2015 - Hurst Hall 128

 Walker, C. Ralph and Florence Memorial Scholarship

Available to:

Full-time students who have declared a major in Biology, Chemistry or Physics.

Provided by:

Gifts from members of the Walker family to perpetuate the memory and to commemorate the service and devotion of C. Ralph and Florence Walker, who both served Western and the Gunnison community in an exemplary manner for many years. Professor Walker was Chairman of Western's then Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.


Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:

Sciences Scholarship Selection Committee.


Contact the Natural & Environmental Sciences Department for application and deadline information. 970.943.2015 - Hurst Hall 128

Faculty & Staff


Chris Lee, Ph.D. headshot
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry
B.A., Western, Biology, 2002, Ph.D., The University of Missouri - Columbia, Biological Sciences, 2008
Phone: 970.943.2256
Office Location: Hurst Hall 218
Jason E. Mullins, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Chemistry
B.S., Clemson University, Ph.D., University of Montana
Phone: 970.943.3152
Office Location: Hurst Hall 204
Dale L. Orth, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Chemistry, Center for Teaching Excellence Director
B.A., Colorado College, Chemistry, 1990, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, Chemistry, 1995
Phone: 970.943.3437
Office Location: Hurst Hall 206
Anne W. Ryter, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Chemistry
B.S., Beloit College, 1988, Ph.D., University of Colorado, Inorganic Chemistry, 1993
Phone: 970.943.7098
Office Location: Hurst Hall 208
Jarral W. Ryter, M.S. headshot
Senior Lecturer in Chemistry
B.S., Fort Lewis College, M.S., University of Colorado
Phone: 970.943.2875
Office Location: Hurst Hall 217A


FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a sample of courses offered by Western Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the university course search.

 CHEM 111 - General Chemistry I (3 credits)

An introductory course designed for science majors focusing on principles and applications of chemistry. Topics covered in this course are stoichiometry, bonding models, intermolecular forces, and periodic trends. Prerequisite or corequisite: MATH 140 or Accuplacer college-level mathematics test score of 85 or above, ACT math score of 24 or above, or instructor permission.

 CHEM 112 - General Chemistry Laboratory I (1 credits)

An introduction to basic laboratory techniques of inorganic chemistry correlating with CHEM 111. Experiments emphasize techniques, instrumentation, and solution chemistry. Laboratory notebookkeeping and the safe handling and disposal of laboratory chemicals are also stressed. Additional course fee applies. Corequisite: CHEM 111.

 CHEM 113 - General Chemistry II (3 credits)

A continuation of CHEM 111. Topics covered are thermodynamics, kinetics, equilibrium, electrochemistry, and nuclear chemistry. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite: CHEM 111 with a minimum grade of C-.

 CHEM 114 - General Chemistry Laboratory II (1 credits)

A continuation of CHEM 112. An introduction to basic laboratory techniques of inorganic chemistry correlating with CHEM 113. Experiments emphasize techniques, instrumentation, and solution chemistry. Laboratory notebookkeeping and the safe handling and disposal of laboratory chemicals are also stressed. Prerequisite: CHEM 112. Corequisite: CHEM 113.

 CHEM 302 - Chemical Information Literacy and Communication (3 credits)

In this course designed for chemistry majors, students learn about the organization of the chemical literature, important resources for navigating the literature of chemistry, and methods for selecting the most appropriate resources. Students will work on effective written, oral and graphical communication for chemistry and the sciences. Prerequisites: COM 202, CHEM113 and CHEM114.

 CHEM 306 - Analytical Chemistry (with laboratory) (4 credits)

A lecture/laboratory course involving principles, techniques and calculations involved with quantitative analysis of substances. Includes solution chemistry, gravimetric, volumetric, redox, and pH determinations. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: CHEM 113 and CHEM 114.

 CHEM 331 - Organic Chemistry I (3 credits)

First semester course of a two semester organic chemistry sequence. This course is an in depth study of saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons. Topics include their naming, electronic structure, bonding, reactivity, stereochemistry, and reaction mechanisms Prerequisite: CHEM 113.

 CHEM 332 - Organic Chemistry II (3 credits)

A continuation of CHEM 331. This course discusses spectroscopic analysis, physical, and chemical properties of organic functional groups. Emphasis includes synthesis, mechanisms, and reactions of aromatic compounds, carbonyl containing compounds, and amines. Prerequisite: CHEM 331.

 CHEM 334 - Organic Chemistry Lab I (1 credits)

An accompanying laboratory course for CHEM 331, serving as an introduction to basic macro-and micro- scale organic techniques used to separate, isolate, and characterize organic compounds. Methods utilized include distillation, extraction, chromatography, Infrared (IR) spectroscopy. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite: CHEM 114. Corequisite: CHEM 331.

 CHEM 335 - Organic Chemistry Lab II (1 credits)

This lab is a continuation of CHEM 334, with an expansion in scope that allows incorporation of more complex synthetic problems. The lab will employ the use of thin layer chromatography (TLC) to follow reaction progress along with NMR spectroscopy to determine reaction outcomes. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite: CHEM 334. Corequisite: CHEM 332.

 CHEM 406 - Instrumental Analysis (with laboratory) (4 credits)

A lecture/laboratory course examining the theory and techniques of instrumental methods of quantitative analysis, including spectrophotometric methods, electrochemical methods, and chromatography. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite: CHEM 306

 CHEM 451 - Physical Chemistry I (3 credits)

A detailed study of thermodynamics, phase equilibria, kinetic theory and chemical kinetics. Offered in alternate years, 2011-2012. Prerequisites: CHEM 113, MATH 251, and PHYS 201

 CHEM 452 - Physical Chemistry II (3 credits)

A continuation of CHEM 451, which examines quantum chemistry, atomic, and molecular structure and spectra, photochemistry, and statistical mechanics. Offered in alternate years, 2011-2012. Prerequisites: CHEM 451.

 CHEM 454 - Physical Chemistry Laboratory (2 credits)

An experimental-techniques course in physical chemistry (including computer-assisted instruction), with emphasis on thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, quantum chemistry, statistical mechanics, and spectroscopy. Offered in alternate years. Additional course fee applies. Corequisite: CHEM 452 or PHYS 452.

 CHEM 461 - Advanced Inorganic Chemistry (3 credits)

Inorganic chemistry based on principles of bonding, structure, and reaction mechanisms. Chemistry of representative and transition elements and their compounds are covered. Offered in alternate years. Prerequisites: CHEM 113, CHEM 302, and MATH 251.

 CHEM 494 - Research Problems in Chemistry ( credits)

An advanced, supervised laboratory or literature research experience involving methods of chemical research in an area of analytical, physical, organic, or biochemistry. A research paper and oral presentation of research results is required. Prerequisite: CHEM 302.

 MATH 151 - Calculus I (4 credits)

A study of differential calculus, including limits, continuous functions, Intermediate Value Theorem, tangents, linear approximation, inverse functions, implicit differentiation, extreme values and the Mean Value Theorem. This course also introduces Integral calculus including anti-derivatives, definite integrals, and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. Prerequisite: ACT math score of 27 or above; SAT math score of 630 or above; MATH 141 with a minimum grade of C-; or Accuplacer university-level mathematics test with a score of 95 or above. GT-MA1

 MATH 251 - Calculus II (4 credits)

Topics include techniques of integration, area computations, improper integrals, infinite series and various convergence tests, power series, Taylor's Formula, polar coordinates, and parametric curves. Prerequisite: MATH 151 with a minimum grade of "C-."

 MATH 252 - Calculus III (4 credits)

Topics include calculus of functions of several variables, differentiation and elementary integration, vectors in the plane and space. Prerequisite: MATH 251 with a minimum grade of "C-."

 PHYS 200 - General Physics I (with laboratory) (4 credits)

A quantitative lecture and laboratory introduction to the basic principles of physics, using the concepts of calculus as a tool. Topics covered include the motions of particles, forces in nature, field concepts, energy, conservation laws, many-particle systems, and thermodynamics. A student may not receive credit for both PHYS 170 and PHYS 200. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite or Corequisite: MATH 151. GT-SC1

 PHYS 201 - General Physics II (with laboratory) (3 credits)

A continuation of PHYS 200 dealing with electromagnetism, light, and the atomic structure of matter. A student cannot receive credit for both PHYS 171 and 201. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite: PHYS 200.

Bachelor of Science
Natural & Enviromental Sciences


Chemistry is the study of the principles that govern matter and the chemical transformations of matter. Students learn basic theories and gain practical experience in inorganic, organic, analytical and physical chemistry. Supporting courses provide a foundation in calculus and physics while coordinated lab work reinforces the concepts and ideas presented in lectures. Students learn to use state-of-the-art instruments and work with faculty on research projects that align with their educational goals.

The Program

The Chemistry program has three comprehensive emphases. 

General Chemistry students study the full range of traditional chemical sub-disciplines. 

Biochemistry students focus their study on the structure and function of chemical reactions that take place in living systems. 

The Secondary Licensure emphasis qualifies students for a Colorado teaching license in science education. Other Chemistry emphases may also be used for licensure but may require additional classes. 

Careers & Opportunities

Graduates are prepared for further graduate studies or employment in the chemical industry. Students may choose to pursue a master's or doctoral degree in chemistry to open further career opportunities. They are also well prepared for professional programs such as pharmacy or medical school. Areas of employment include: 

  • Environmental testing and remediation
  • Hazardous materials management
  • Hospital and other biomedical laboratories 
  • Instrument and chemical sales 
  • Technical writing
  • Teaching 

Learn More 

Reach out to Dale Orth, Ph.D. for more information.