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Chemist Shaowei Chen talks to students in lab, UCSC Science, photo credit Elena Zhukova 2019

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Advising Resources

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry
Email: chemistryadvising@ucsc.edu

This page is meant to provide resources to assist you in planning your degree progress.

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Advising

The advisor for the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major is Rexton Lynn.

Email Advising: chemistryadvising@ucsc.edu

Most advising questions can be answered via email! Please follow the guidelines below:

  • Use the chemistry advising email above, NOT the personal emails of Chem/BMB advisors.
  • Include your full name and student ID number.
  • If you are requesting assistance with forms, please attach a copy of your form to the email.

In-person and Remote Advising Appointment Schedule: Slug Success

Rexton’s Fall 2022 (September 19 – December 21) advising appointment schedule is:
  • Monday: In-Person or Remote/Zoom Advising 9 AM – 4 PM
  • Tuesday: Remote/Zoom Only 9 AM – 4 PM
  • Wednesday: Remote/Zoom Only 1 PM – 4 PM
  • No student appointments are available on Thursdays or Fridays in the Fall.
  • If none of the advising times above work for you and you need to meet with Rexton, please email him at chemistryadvising@ucsc.edu to set up an alternate advising appointment time.

Make an appointment with Rexton.
Instructions for how to make appointments using Slug Success.

Getting Started in BMB

Getting Started Guides

Getting started in the major as a first-year student
Getting started in the major as a transfer student

Orientation Presentations

Chemistry & Biochemistry Orientation Presentation for Frosh
Chemistry & Biochemistry Orientation Presentation for Transfer Students

Chemistry Self Assessment

Students who want to make sure they are prepared for the introductory general chemistry sequence are encouraged to take the Chemistry Self-Assessment offered in Canvas (the online system UCSC uses to create and manage lessons, courses, quizzes and other course materials). Your score on the exam will help you determine when to take general chemistry.

Accessing the Assessment:

NOTE: You will need your UCSC CruzID Gold and password to log in to Canvas.

Assessment Guidelines:

  • You may use a calculator and periodic table when taking the assessment.
  • The exam consists of 42 multiple choice questions.
  • There is no time limit; you may take as long as needed to complete the exam.
  • You will receive immediate feedback after submitting your exam.
  • The assessment is advisory, not required to enroll.
  • Any UCSC student with an active CruzID Gold password may take the assessment.

Assessment Score & Enrollment

  • 0-25 points: You should review general chemistry before enrolling in Chem 1A or Chem 1B.
  • 25-35 points: You may benefit from review prior to enrolling in CHEM 1A.
  • 36-42 points: Your score suggests you are prepared to enroll in general chemistry.
Transfer Students & Transfer Credit Requests

Students intending to transfer into UCSC to pursue a Chemistry degree should review the Transfer Information and Policy section of the catalog for the Chemistry degree of interest (links below). Students can also review the getting started in the BMB major as a transfer student guide.

Students preparing to transfer from a California Community College should also reference assist.org to determine what UCSC coursework they may receive transfer credit for.

Students preparing to transfer from another University or an out-of-state Community College can request Major or Minor Credit for courses completed at their original institution via the Transfer Credit Articulation Request form.

NOTE: Unit Credit and satisfaction of GE requirements are processed through admissions. Please see the UCSC advising website for more information.

Degree requirements and planners

Degree requirements & planner for the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology B.S.
Senior exit requirements

To create an official major academic plan, please contact the BMB advisor at chemistryadvising@ucsc.edu and request an individualized plan.

Curriculum Plan 2021-22 – this document shows in which quarters all Chemistry & Biochemistry courses are planned to be offered this academic year.

Current Enrollment Updates

Updated 10/12/22

Enrollment Information such as appointment dates, maximum numbers of credits permitted, waitlist opening and closing dates, etc. is updated and posted quarterly by the Registrar’s Office. Click here to see it!

Winter 2023 Enrollment Updates

Winter 2023 Enrollment Updates will be posted as we have them, once enrollment begins/continues.

CLASS CLOSED/FULL?: The Chemistry & Biochemistry Department monitors enrollment numbers throughout the enrollment period and adjusting capacities as possible/necessary. Students should waitlist for Chemistry courses that are full (waitlists open during second pass enrollment), especially if the sections are full but the total course enrollment has not been met. The department uses waitlisting to gauge the demand for additional seats.

For enrollment information/procedures/updates on BIOL courses, visit the MCD enrollment website.

For updates on courses sponsored by other departments (non CHEM/BIOC courses), please visit the appropriate department websites. 

Organic Chemistry

CHEM 8M: enrollment is restricted (for Winter enrollment) during first pass to those majors in which it is a requirement. The enrollment restriction will lift during the second pass. CHEM 8M is offered both Winter and Spring Quarters.

General Enrollment Policies

General Enrollment Information

General Enrollment Information from the Registrar (enrollment appointments, waitlists, min/max credits, etc.)
Enrollment How-To Videos

General Chemistry

The General Chemistry series includes three lectures courses (CHEM 1A, CHEM 1B, and CHEM 1C) and two lab courses (CHEM 1M, to be taken with CHEM 1B, & CHEM 1N, to be taken with CHEM 1C).

Please note that CHEM 1A and CHEM 1B do not have to be taken in order. These are two separate courses that do not build upon each other. CHEM 1A requires placement in Math 3 or equivalent (ALEKS placement score, AP test scores, or AM 3) and is a prerequisite for CHEM 1C but NOT CHEM 1B. Please keep this in mind if you find your intended General Chemistry course is full. You may have other options!

Lab Attendance and “Crashing”

Enrolled students who do not attend their first lab meeting will be dropped. Attendance will be taken in the first 10 minutes; students not present when roll is taken will be dropped from the lab and their space in the course will be given to those on the waitlist.

General Chemistry labs are offered every quarter. Although it is recommended to take the General Chemistry lecture & associated lab concurrently, students have the option of delaying the lab for a future quarter if the lab sections are full.

“Crashing” lab sections:  In the case of all Chemistry labs, “crashing” is not an option, even if you are on the waitlist for the lab. Only enrolled students (not including waitlist) may attend the first lab.

Waitlists

All Chemistry courses will have a waitlist.  Do not contact the instructor asking for a permission code to get you off the waitlist.

  • Waitlists will be available at the start of Second Pass enrollment: Log in to MyUCSC to view your waitlist appointment time. For your best chance at becoming enrolled, add or swap onto a waitlist as soon as they become available.
  • All waitlists will be set to auto-enroll unless otherwise noted: Students will be automatically enrolled as space becomes available in the course and notified via email.
  • Waitlists will manage enrollment: If you want to enroll in a full course, you MUST enroll onto the waitlist.  To allow for fair access to enrollment, individual requests to instructors or the department will not be entertained.

Chemistry Lab Waitlists

If you are waitlisted in CHEM 1B, CHEM 1C, CHEM 8A, or CHEM 8B, you will not be able to waitlist the corresponding lab course (CHEM 1N, CHEM 1M, CHEM 8L, CHEM 8M) until you are officially enrolled in the class, unless you have previously passed the courses.

NOTE FOR WAITLISTED LAB STUDENTS: waitlisted students must wait for an official enrollment confirmation notification from the Registrar’s Office prior to attending the lab section.
  • CHEM 1M is the lab associated with CHEM 1B. CHEM 1N is the lab associated with CHEM 1C.
  • CHEM 8L is the lab associated with CHEM 8A. CHEM 8M is the lab associated with CHEM 8B.
  • Gen Chem Labs (1M and 1N) do not have a lab lecture.  O Chem labs (8L and 8M) do – held once a week.
  • O Chem Labs (8L and 8M): All students enrolled, waitlisted, or seeking a seat in a lab MUST attend the first class lecture meeting (lab lecture – NOT the lab itself) which is noted in the schedule of classes.
  • “Crashing” lab sections:  In the case of all Chemistry labs, “crashing” is not an option, even if you are on the waitlist for the lab. Only enrolled students (not including waitlist) may attend the first lab.
  • If you are on the waitlist, you must wait for confirmation notification by the Registrar’s Office regarding your official enrollment in a lab section prior to attending the lab section.

Independent Study

Students may earn academic credit for independent research in a lab. If you want to enroll in an independent study course number for enrollment for Lab Research, you must complete a Petition for Undergraduate Individual Studies form. You must have an informal agreement in place with the Professor/Faculty Sponsor prior to completing this form. Please read the “Undergraduate Research” section of this advising webpage for more details.

How to Qualify and Declare for the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Major

Major Qualification Process

Students must complete a certain set of coursework and achieve a certain GPA in order to qualify for a Chemistry major.

Qualification courses and GPA requirements for the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology B.S.

Major Declaration Process

Students may petition to declare

  • once they have completed all qualification courses and met the GPA requirements;
  • have an official, signed, department-approved academic plan on file;
  • have met or communicated with the BMB advisor regarding their academic plan.

Beginning Spring 2022, BMB majors may log into MyUCSC and submit the Petition for Major/Minor via MyUCSC as soon as you have met major qualification requirements and/or reach your declaration deadline quarter, whichever comes first.

The petition can be accessed by going to MyUCSC, navigating to the Student Homepage, and then selecting the Undergraduate Student eForms tile > Petition for Major/Minor.

For assistance, please contact the chemistry advising team at chemistryadvising@ucsc.edu.

Students who entered UC Santa Cruz as first-year students are required to formally declare a major by the deadline in their sixth quarter on campus. Students who transfer to UC Santa Cruz are required to declare a major by the deadline in their second quarter on campus. The major declaration deadlines for each quarter can be found in the academic calendar.

PLEASE NOTE
Students enrolled in their final qualification policy course at the major declaration deadline may submit the petition, but will not be declared until satisfactory grades have been posted.

Major Declaration Appeals

Appeals do not have to be any particular length, but should clearly and concisely explain the reason you are appealing.

Appeals should be sent to chemistryadvising@ucsc.edu, who will forward the appeal to the appropriate faculty reviewer.

All appeals must contain the following information at the top of the appeal letter:

  • Full name
  • Student ID number
  • Major you wish to declare

In the body of your appeal letter, explain the extenuating circumstances that influenced your academic performance. Identify solutions/resources you are using or intend to use to improve your academic performance in the future, and anything else you feel is relevant to explaining your circumstances.

Students may appeal to the major either prior to or after submitting a petition to declare and being denied (in the latter case, appeals must be submitted within 15 days from the date the denial notification was sent). Within 15 days of receipt of the appeal, the department will notify the student and their affiliated college of the decision.

Please note that the information you share in your appeal or with your advisors will be kept confidential and shared only with campus officials as required to serve you in an advising capacity or to process your appeal, except in cases related to potential harm to yourself or others, or sexual assault or abuse. In those cases, we may be required by law to report incidents you disclose to other need-to-know offices on campus such as the Title IX Office and/or University of California Police Department. If you are in need of support for any issues, please consult this list of confidential and/or support resources.

Academic Support

Below are some particularly useful resources for students seeking academic support. Please visit the science.ucsc.edu website for a full list of academic support resources

  • ACE – The Academic Excellence Program provides discussion sections in biology, pre-calculus, general and organic chemistry and physics. Sections meet for 4 hours each week with professional teaching staff and take the place of the required secondary discussion section for your math or science lecture.
  • Chemistry Learning Center (CLC) – The Chemistry Learning Center in PSB 209 is officially open! This space is meant specifically for any General Chemistry student in CHEM 1A, CHEM 1B, or CHEM 1C to come for help. TAs and instructors will be there to offer help to ANY student who needs it. General Chemistry students should check their Canvas courses for the current Chemistry Learning Center schedule.
  • Chemistry Tutoring – Looking for a Chemistry tutor? Reach out to chemistryadvising@ucsc.edu!
  • College Scholars Program (CSP) – The UC Santa Cruz College Scholars Program (CSP) offers a congenial and stimulating academic home for a select group of well-prepared first-year students at UC Santa Cruz. This enriched program of study includes special courses, seminars, colloquia, and other events during each quarter of the student’s first academic year and fall of the student’s second academic year.
  • DRC – The Disability Resource Center assists the UCSC campus with equal educational access for students with disabilities.
  • EOP – Academic and personal support for educationally disadvantaged students.
  • LSS – Learning Support Services offers Modified Supplemental Instruction (MSI) and tutoring services.
  • MSI – Modified Supplemental Instruction gives students the opportunity to learn together in small groups led by advanced Student Learning Assistants.
  • Navigate Slug Success – You can use Navigate Slug Success to:
    • Set alerts and reminders. Stay on top of your to-do list and important deadlines.
    • Locate campus resources. Connect to resources and support throughout campus.
    • Sync your class schedule with your phone calendar. See your whole schedule in one calendar view.
    • Make an appointment. Instantly schedule a Slug Success meeting with an academic advisor or other campus staff.
  • STEM Diversity – The UCSC STEM Diversity Programs encompass a variety of programs that support underrepresented students in STEM fields.
  • STEM Hub – The STEM Hub is a place for Small Group Tutoring from Learning Support Services (LSS), study space, and peer advising, centrally located on Science Hill to support the retention and graduation of low-income, first-generation, EOP, and Latinx STEM students at UCSC. All students are welcome.
  • Study Group – Students are encouraged to create study groups for themselves with fellow students in their classes!
    • “Forming and being part of a study group was essential for my success in challenging courses like CHEM 163A. We created a supportive network where any of us could ask for help from one another to better understand confusing concepts and homework problems. I think I can directly attribute my success in my classes to the help I got from being in a study group.” – a testament to the benefit of study groups from Sean Tierney, a 3rd year Chemistry major in 2022
    • How does one form a study group?:
      • “If there is a class discord, ask if anyone wants to create an in-person study group in the general chat. Ask the people that sit near you in class if they want to form a study group, and share contact information with them so a group chat can be made. Ask them to invite anyone they would like to join, too.” – advice from Sean Tierney, a 3rd year Chemistry major in 2022
      • Navigate Slug Success also has a Find Study Buddies feature that can be used to create or join a study group with other students from your classes.
  • Technology Resources – Our campus recognizes the importance of digital equity. The Division of Student Affairs and Success has developed a list of resources available to students who seek assistance with tech needs (computer labs, low-cost internet, library loaners, etc.).
Undergraduate Research

Want Research-related opportunities emailed directly to you? Complete the Career Interest Survey, which we use to send you opportunities specific to your research and/or career interests!


Becoming involved in research is one of the most important decisions you will make as an undergraduate student.  For students interested in pursuing grad school, undergraduate research is a way of expanding your education outside of the classroom and better preparing yourself for the rigors of graduate study. The right research experience can greatly enhance your education and further your preparation for industry, business, and professional schools.

This is a recording of the Chemistry & Biochemistry Undergraduate Research Information Session held on October 20, 2022 at UC Santa Cruz. Students interested in participating in Chemistry and Biochemistry-related research should watch this video and then read the tips below. Those two references, together, are a great starting guide to help begin the search for a research opportunity.

Here is a link to a folder of documents designed to support undergraduates as they embark on their research journey (watch the Undergraduate Research Information Session recording linked above for a walk through presentation of these resources, by Sarah Levy).

Step 1: Activate

Getting involved in an undergraduate research project is not like signing up for a class. Instead, it is much more like obtaining a job – you need to find an available research position and then sell yourself for that position.

First and Second Year students –  plan ahead by attending workshops and events held by the Undergraduate Research Office.

Attend the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, Poster Session, & Panel Discussion in late May or early June.

Consider joining the “Chemistry Club” – The Chemistry club at UCSC is a great way for students to meet others interested in Chemistry and a great way to meet professors and talk to them about their research

Step 2: Brainstorm

Think about courses you’ve taken or other educational experiences you’ve had.

  • Make a list of those subjects that you find most interesting.
  • For ideas on topics to list, scan through your science and textbook indices.
  • Look at the department  research section of our website for subjects in which you are interested.
  • What are you excited about? Start searching the web to find out what is happening in this area.
  • Are there news stories about flashy new discoveries? Check out the department news section

Once you have evaluated your research interests and organized your time (plan on up to 15 hours per week), the next step is finding a faculty mentor. As part of a collaborative research team, you will need to find the right position both for you and your potential research lab.

Step 3: Identifying possible research mentors

Once you have an idea of the area in which you would like to do research, you are now ready to find a mentor.

Research your potential faculty mentor

Identify a few faculty and read about their general area of research. Our departments’ faculty listings describe the professor’s research and list recent articles.

When you are researching potential faculty mentors, make sure they are conducting research in your area of interest. You should be able to connect your coursework or previous volunteer/research experience to the research project you are applying for.

Step 4: Contacting potential mentors

Send an email to potential faculty members introducing yourself and clearly indicating your purpose for contacting them. This “cover letter” should include the following points:

  • Name and major/department affiliation
  • Purpose for contacting them
  • Major research interests and enthusiasm for gaining research experience
  • How do your research interests relate to the research being done in said laboratory (ie. Why are you interested in their specific laboratory?)
  • Include your contact information (email, phone, etc.)

As an attachment to your email, include your curriculum vitae (CV). A CV is similar to a resume but is specific to your academic career. Include:

  • Relevant coursework – you may want to include a short description of techniques/concepts mastered.
  • Leadership experience (on/off campus) and work experience that demonstrates organizational skills, independent thinking, etc.)
  • Honors, awards or distinctions (include name of award, granting college/department, and monetary value if appropriate)

Some faculty members may also require a copy of your unofficial transcript.

NOTE: When you contact potential mentors, you may find that one or more of them is unable to accept you into his/her lab. This may be due to a variety of circumstances so do not take it personally. Students often become discouraged in the search for a research position because they have sent many e-mails to faculty and have gotten no replies. Take heart! Your letter may not have reached them.  They might be out of town.  But often the reason for lack of response is something that can be fixed by using proper business communication etiquette.  See the following examples of good and bad letters so you can learn how to write a better letter of inquiry to a potential employer.

Letter Etiquette

Sample Cover Letter

Sample Curriculum Vitae

Step 5: Academic Credit

Chemistry majors may receive credit for participating in research at UCSC by enrolling in the following courses:

  • CHEM 199 – Senior Research: Independent Research in Lab (5 credits)
  • CHEM 199F – Senior Research: Independent Research in Lab (2 credits)

Please use this link to complete your petition for an Independent Study Course. All Research Independent Study Courses require a faculty sponsor.

Students may earn a total of 15 units of academic credit for independent research in a lab.

Work Experience, Careers, & Graduate School

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology is a degree that allows for myriad possibilities of career avenues. Graduates from Chemistry majors can pursue careers in industry, academia, government, non-profit, and/or entrepreneurship. Below are some resources that the Chemistry and Biochemistry department has gathered for students to peruse as they are considering careers for their degree.

Want to receive targeted emails based on your career interests? Fill out the Career Interest Survey to sign up! You can unsubscribe here at any time.

Career Exploration:

Graduate/Ph.D. Program Exploration:

Internship & Job Search:

Events:

  • STEM Diversity Recruitment Social
    November 29, 1-2pm
    Zoom
    The STEM Diversity Research Programs is recruiting for the 2023 – 2024 cohort. We are hosting a virtual recruitment social on Tuesday, November 29th, from 1-2 PM. We will discuss undergraduate research opportunities in STEM Diversity, the application process, and a student panel to share their experiences. Everyone is welcome to attend. Please share this opportunity with anyone who might be interested. Don’t hesitate to contact stemdiv@ucsc.edu if you have any questions.

  • UCSC Education MA/Credential Program Application Workshop 
    December 2, 3:30-4:30pm
    Zoom 
    These are virtual workshop events for students who are applying to UCSC’s Education MA/Credential Program. Here is the Zoom link for the UCSC Education MA/Credential Program Application Workshop on November 21 from 3-4pm.Here is the Zoom link for the UCSC Education MA/Credential Program Application Workshop on December 2 from 3:30-4:30pm.
  • The role of chemistry in addressing hunger and food security – free event from American Chemical Society
    December 5-8, 2022
    Register Here!

    How will Chemistry Help Eliminate Hunger? Chemists and engineers have a vital role to play in the fight against world hunger. Join ACS for the Zero Hunger Summit on December 5-8 to learn how cutting-edge research and innovation in the chemical sciences and engineering are contributing to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal of “Zero Hunger”.

    The agenda is filled with speakers from government, industry, academia, and beyond to see how scientists and engineers are making a difference in the fight against world hunger. They’ll discuss:
    • Climate Impacts on Agriculture: Adaptation & Reducing Crop Stress
    • Impacts of Agriculture on Climate: Mitigation of Greenhouse Gasses
    • Optimizing Crop Production
    • Sustainable Food Packaging and Reducing Waste
  • Graduate Program Recruitment & Information Events/Workshops
    The Graduate Program Recruitment & Information Events/Workshops document includes a continuously updated list of upcoming Graduate Program information events, workshops, application deadlines, etc. that the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department has been asked to advertise and that may be of interest to current Chemistry & Biochemistry undergraduates that are considering or pursuing graduate school.