Biochemistry is the perfect choice for students interested in careers spanning the more traditional fields of chemistry and biology. Students choosing this major will obtain excellent preparation for a variety of careers including biotechnology, pharmacology and agricultural chemistry or pre-professional programs in medicine, dentistry and optometry.

The biochemistry major at Central is housed within the chemistry department, which is certified by the American Chemical Society, so students receive instruction comparable to that at larger institutions while benefiting from individualized attention and a broad liberal arts background.

The Real World


Successful Careers

  • Chemist, Keystone Laboratories, Inc.
  • Pharmacist, Providence Medical Group, Portland, Ore.
  • Medical student, Des Moines University Medical School
  • Graduate student, the University of Iowa, pharmacology


  • Bio-Chem Club
  • SCATE (Students Concerned About The Environment)
  • Health Professions Club
Central College student

Graduate Placement

Thanks to rigorous coursework and top-notch professors, 94 percent of Central students were admitted into their first or second choice graduate school. Whether you are interested in biochemistry, molecular genetics or a health profession, Central can help you achieve your career goals.


Students with internship experience have a proven track record in a professional environment, which often leads to employment following graduation. About 76 percent of Central students complete an internship or pre-professional experience before graduating, which means you can get a head start on your career!

Courses & Faculty

The chemistry department offers a strong foundation in concepts, coursework and laboratory skills in organic, analytical, inorganic, physical and biochemistry. The curriculum, certified by the American Chemical Society, means graduates are ensured the strong scientific background and the research opportunities needed for graduate school or careers in chemistry or the health professions.

The department also offers students flexible course options in order to incorporate study abroad, research and other liberal arts interests during their four years on campus.

Learn more about Biochemistry in the course catalog.

Meet the faculty:

Ellie Du Pre, B.S., Ph.D. Professor of Biology, interest areas include: histology, human anatomy and physiology, epidemiology and environmental endocrine disruptors

Ashley Garr, B.S., M.S., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Chemistry, interest areas include: physical chemistry and computational chemistry

Cathy Haustein, B.A., M.F.A., Ph.D. Professor of Chemistry, interest areas include: analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry instrumental analysis, the extraction of alkaloids from natural products, fluorescence spectroscopy and fiction writing

Nicole Palenske, B.S., M.S., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Biology, interest areas include: human anatomy and physiology, environmental physiology and aquatic toxicology

James Shriver, B.S., M.S., Ph.D. Professor of Chemistry, interest areas include: synthetic organic chemistry, molecular engineering and design, supramolecular chemistry and anion binding

Jay Wackerly, B.S., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Chemistry, interest areas include: organic chemistry: synthesis and supramolecular chemistry

Sample Schedule

First Year
  • General Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Introduction to Cells
  • Calculus I
Sophomore Year
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Physics
Junior Year
  • Biochemistry
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Genetics
Senior Year
  • Microbiology
  • Physiology
  • Histology

The Central Difference

Research Opportunities

Besides internship opportunities, you'll be encouraged take responsibility for a research project. Faculty are involved in many ongoing projects and always willing to help nurture new ideas for research. Current projects include the study of mushroom extracts on cells and organic molecules that bind with phosphorylated compounds.

Study Abroad

Students are encouraged to study abroad with one of Central’s international programs to enhance their development as global citizens, or with partner programs in Chicago, Washington, D.C. or New York City. Learn more about Central’s study abroad programs.

State-of-the-Art Equipment

You'll have direct access to classrooms and laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation and presentation technology, including:

300 MHz Bruker NMR
Spectrum Rx Perkin Elmer ATR-FTIR Spectrometer
HP 6890 GC with an HP 5973 quadrapole mass selective detector
HPLC series 1100 with UV-Vis detector
Two HP 6890 gas chromatographs with TCD

American Chemical Society

Central is one of only seven Iowa private colleges and universities with a chemistry program endorsed by the American Chemical Society.

Learn More

Want to find out more about Biochemistry at Central? Contact us to learn more about this major and our other strong academic programs. Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.