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Department of Biology and Chemistry

Message from the chair

Whether it’s serving as counselors at science camp, manufacturing biodiesel or caring for snakes, our SAU science students have been hard at work studying for exams, doing research and serving their community. Please take time to peruse our site and learn about some activities and accomplishments of our SAU science students and faculty. If you have questions or comments about any of the projects and programs you read about, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The fields of chemistry and biology are wide-open vistas of opportunity. After all, as with chemistry, we are manipulating matter, the stuff of the universe, at the atomic and molecular level. Because of the fundamental size that chemists work at, most other science disciplines, as well as unrelated disciplines, exist because chemists have brought the area into being. Chemistry is probably the closest we, as people, can come to thinking God’s thoughts after him.

The biology/chemistry department is comprised of professors with wide-ranging expertise in applied science including science experience in foreign countries such as Japan and England. The department is also well known for contributing to science education as SAU work, with student co-authors, has been featured on the cover of the Journal of Chemical Education. The combined character and experience of the biology/chemistry faculty will well prepare students for opportunities in the sciences, medicine, environment and education.

Bruce W. Baldwin, Ph. D.

For more information about SAU’s department of biology and chemistry, please contact Dr. Baldwin:


Phone: 517.750.6384

Majors and programs


The biology major within the Department of Biology/Chemistry gives its students information about, experience with and insights into the fascinating topic of life. Functions of organisms and their parts, interactions of organisms with their environments, taxonomy of plants and animals, and mechanisms for continued survival are all considered by biology courses. To learn more about the biology major, see a list of courses and read a fuller program description, go to the biology page.


The biochemistry major within the Department of Biology/Chemistry prepares students for work and further study in perhaps the most exciting area of science — the interface between biology, chemistry and physics. This major provides students with a broad understanding of life at the cellular and molecular level, and prepares them for careers in biotechnology. To learn more about the biochemistry major, see a list of courses and read a fuller program description, go to the biochemistry page.


The chemistry major combines coursework in mathematics, physics and biology to prepare students to become scientists, health care professionals and educators. To learn more about the chemistry major, see a list of courses and read a fuller program description, go to the chemistry page.

Student Organizations and Activities

Science Advancement Society

The Science Advancement Society (SAS) gives chemistry, mathematics, computer science, biology and biochemistry students the opportunity to do fun group projects related to science. Some activities of SAS are making slime and handing out slime and candy at the annual Trunk-or-Treat at Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church each Halloween. The students often get together for study groups. Some years, students have gone behind-the-scenes at local zoos. SAS is supervised by Dr. Bruce Baldwin and Dr. Thomas Kuntzleman.

Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society

The Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society is a group of chemistry students that work on chemistry projects. These students work on independent chemistry research projects and present them at the annual American Chemical Society meetings. A new project for the student affiliates is the Biodiesel for a Greener Campus project. Students operate a biodiesel processor to change waste deep fat fryer oil into biodiesel fuel suitable for the campus diesel lawn mowers and tractors. In addition, the waste glycerol from the process is being transformed into soap. This is a way for students to make a statement about the positive impact chemistry has on our daily lives and the chemical stewardship involved in making fuel that does not increase greenhouse gases in the environment.


SAU students earned finalist honors in the 2008 Chemvention Hands-On Activity challenge with their submission, “Let’s Get Fired Up: The Chemistry of Fireworks.” The prize money allowed students to travel to Salt Lake City to participate in the American Chemical Society national convention, March 22 – 26, 2009, where they will present the poster and accept the award.

With the help of Dr. Tom Kuntzleman, assistant professor of chemistry, and Dr. Bruce Baldwin, associate professor of chemistry, SAU students came up with the idea to make a science demonstration for elementary age students that tied together the elements, fireworks and simple household materials.

The award-winning experiment heated various household materials in candle flames to demonstrate the beautiful colors in fireworks. SAU chemistry students also presented the activity at Warner Elementary School (Spring Arbor).

Innovative Activities Grant

Last fall, the Spring Arbor University chemistry department was awarded a $400 Innovative Activities Grant from the American Chemical Society to fund a student project that sought to produce gallons of biodiesel for use on campus. The goal was to produce enough fuel to power the maintenance department’s Gator utility vehicles and lawnmowers that currently run on diesel.

The team was comprised of a handful of students who worked with a local metalworker to build a biodiesel production machine that converted old fryer fat into biodiesel. The process, known as transesterification, was used by students in introductory chemistry, but on a much smaller scale. This project intended to produce 5-10 gallons of biodiesel at a time.

Several websites give information about the field of chemistry and biochemistry, including career profiles of those working in the field, and a periodic table site that is really fun. Follow some of the links below to learn more about this exciting field.

Exploring Job Opportunities and Internship Possibilities

If you’re still in high school and wondering if you should consider majoring in chemistry, take a look at these links from the American Chemical Society. Learn about obtaining a career as a chemical Technician Educator or about the opportunities available to high school juniors and seniors.