Professional Development, Careers, & Success

Chemists are the people who transform the everyday materials around us into amazing things. Some chemists work on cures for cancer while others monitor the ozone protecting us from the sun. Still others discover new materials to make our homes warmer in the winter, or new textiles to be used in the latest fashions. The knowledge gained through the study of chemistry opens many career pathways.


Professional Development

  • SMACS: Our award-winning student organization, the Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS), engages in active outreach to the community, visits local schools to discuss environmentally friendly chemistry, conducts fun experiments, and more. Augustana SMACS has been awarded a Green Chapter designation multiple times and regularly places in the top tier of ACS student groups in the country. Students have traveled to ACS National Meetings to accept awards - most recently in San Francisco, Orlando, and Philadelphia. 
  • Laboratory Assistants & Tutors: Each year, over 40 student laboratory assistants and tutors are hired by the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. Students offered these paid positions are provided the opportunity to work intimately with faculty and learn valuable teaching skills.
  • Study Abroad: As a liberal arts institution, Augustana aims to create well-rounded students. As such, students are encouraged to participate in one of the numerous study-abroad opportunities Augustana provides. Students have studied in Africa, Australia, Central and South America, and Europe. Students considering chemistry, biochemistry, and/or pre-health profession studies are encouraged to talk with their advisor early on about when to participate, as these curricula are rigorous and sequence-driven.
  • Mentoring: Augustana faculty members strive to provide a strong, positive mentoring experience for all of our chemistry and biochemistry majors that include exciting research and internship experiences, along with personalized advanced classes.
  • Off-Campus Internships: The location of Augustana in the heart of Sioux Falls offers an advantage for vocation-related experience through job shadowing, internship, and employment. Our students have gained valuable experience at Avera McKennan Hospital, Cardiovascular Research Institute, Children’s Care Hospital, EROS Data Center, POET Research, the Sioux Falls Crime Lab, Hemetech, Sanford Medical Center, the Sioux Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant, and Veterans Affairs Hospital, among many other regional businesses. These individually-designed experiences, which can taken for Augustana credit, enable students to experience what a particular career is like by spending time with professionals in work settings. Internships are available in most areas of chemistry & biochemistry, including environmental science, veterinary medicine, and all of the major health professions.

Alumni Stories

Thai-Son (Shawn) Nguyen ('20) is currently in the Materials Science and Engineering graduate program at Cornell University.



Why did you choose Augustana?

  • As an international student, I was first impressed by the excellent experience with the International Program Office (IPO) of Augie during admission season. Another major factor was the Froiland Science Complex (FSC). Most importantly, coming in with interests in science and research, the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a modern facility like the FSC was what brought me to Augie.

Do you have any favorite professors or classes that made a lasting impact?

  • The inorganic chemistry classes (CHEM 222 and 341) and the polymers course (CHEM 351) have had a significant impact on my research interest. The courses, designed to introduce students to the chemical syntheses, properties, and characterization techniques of inorganic and polymeric materials, have helped me develop the fundamental understanding of the chemistry of materials. Having taken multiple materials science and engineering courses in graduate school, I believe these chemistry courses have provided me with the background to take on coursework in a more interdisciplinary field like materials science. I also love the lab sections of these courses. The variety of instruments and characterization techniques available at Augie is truly amazing; having hands-on experience with advanced analytical instruments throughout college is an advantage that not many Chemistry departments can offer.

What are some of your greatest memories and co-curricular activity experiences?

  • I enjoyed working as a lab assistant and tutor. Having the chance to interact with and assist other students in the lab was very meaningful to me. Late-night studies with my classmates in the FSC are also genuinely memorable, as we have the time to get to know each other outside of class. I enjoyed participating in science demos and activity fair at Augie. The demos carried out by students in our department are great opportunities for us to demonstrate the fun, colorful, and creative side of chemistry to general audiences, including K-12 and other Augie students.

How were you impacted by the campus community and Sioux Falls?

  • The close-knit community at Augie made me feel at home. A growing liberal arts college, Augie offers a wide variety of campus activity, yet the connection among students remains very direct and strong. I have met new friends every semester and still stay in contact with many of them. I always feel supported by my peers and the professors, and I believe this is the foundation of a great 4-year experience at Augie.

What advice can you share with potential students who are interested in Augustana?

  • If possible, schedule a campus visit. The campus tour led by Augie ambassadors is fantastic, and an FSC tour with a faculty member will be worth your travel! Don’t hesitate to reach out to the professors. Augie professors are always willing to answer your questions, and the ability to have these conversations will be of great benefit to your college experience.

Careers in Chemistry & Biochemistry

Our majors will achieve a broad background in the natural sciences that prepares them for a variety of post-graduation options, including research positions, graduate studies, professional health disciplines, biotechnology, chemical industry, and other professions. The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry prepares students for employment with many skills, the most important of which is how to approach unanswered questions.

Training in chemistry or biochemistry facilitates entry to a wide range of careers, including:

  • Agricultural Chemistry
  • Basic and applied industrial research
  • Biotechnology
  • Catalysis
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Chemical Sales
  • Chemical Technology
  • Consulting
  • Dentistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Food and Flavor Chemistry
  • Forensic Chemistry
  • Green Chemistry
  • Hazardous Waste Management
  • Industrial hygiene
  • Material Science
  • Medicine
  • Oil and Petroleum
  • Optometry
  • Pharmacy
  • Science Writing
  • Scientific Patent Law
  • Teaching

A strong liberal arts background combined with our serious, rigorous curriculum ensures the breadth and depth of preparation you need for any career — or continued study at some of the country’s top graduate schools.