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New Biochemistry Major Announced at USD

USD Department of Chemistry student Ashleigh Chov wears goggles and a lab coat while she examines a vile filled with liquid. USD announces a new major in biochemistry that will prepare students for graduate study, professional study in medicine or dentistry and more.

VERMILLION, S.D. – A new major in biochemistry at the University of South Dakota will prepare students for graduate study in biochemistry or biomedical sciences; professional study in medicine or dentistry; and careers in the life sciences, biochemistry, pharmaceutical or biomedical industries.

“With the state’s only medical school located in Vermillion, USD has traditionally drawn students interested in medicine and health sciences,” said Andy Sykes, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, which administers the new degree. “USD is ideally suited to offer an interdisciplinary program in biochemistry, which draws upon the disciplinary strengths of existing academic expertise in chemistry, biology and basic biomedical sciences in USD’s Sanford School of Medicine, as well as the research and laboratory opportunities afforded by the faculty in these programs.”

Students majoring in biochemistry will take courses in math, physics, chemistry, biology and microbiology. Sykes said the new major is composed of classes that already exist at USD. For instance, the second-semester Organic Chemistry course, adopted for the medical biology major previously, already prepares students for biochemistry by teaching organic chemistry as it relates to biomolecules. The department also hired a new bioanalytical chemist last fall.

Since biochemistry is an experimental science, students also will be encouraged to take part in undergraduate research opportunities. “Current projects combine the materials chemistry strength of our department with basic biomedical sciences,” Sykes said. “These projects include developing nanomolecular cages to trap methamphetamines in the brain to prevent drug overdose and using nanoparticle technology to fight cancer.”

USD anticipates that 27 students will graduate with a biochemistry degree from the institution over the next four years.

“The new biochemistry major is a natural fit for USD,” Sykes said. “We hope to attract new, talented students to our campus with the new major starting in fall 2021.”


USD's College of Arts & Sciences offers students a top-notch undergraduate liberal arts education in the humanities, social sciences and sciences as well as graduate programs that have earned USD distinction as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation. The college's more than 22,000 alumni include famous journalists, Hollywood screenwriters, novelists, a Nobel Prize winner, South Dakota governors, attorneys, physicians, justices of the state Supreme Court, distinguished university faculty and international humanitarians.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News