The Chemistry Capstone Oral Presentation

CHEM 499, 2007-2008

Chemistry Seminar Syllabus

Instructor:  Dean Waldow

Phone: (535) 7533
Office: Rieke 231
Office hours: see schedule or by appt.

Class Information:

Required Materials:


This course is the chemistry department's senior capstone and provides an opportunity for senior chemistry majors to bring together their chemical education in a seminar presentation of library or research project. Additionally, effective communication of well done lab and literature research is very important to your success in future career plans."How well can this person communicate?" This is a question often addressed by faculty and mentors providing references for students who are applying to graduate school or professional schools (medical, etc.) as well as by interviewers who are searching for the successful employee.


The fall semester focuses on the tools one needs for successful presentations and builds experience through attending professional seminars. The activities include student presentations from our textbook, learning software tools, seminar attendance, and practice presentations. Additionally, you will get practice in evaluating the seminars you attend, both professional and peer seminars. This course culminates in the spring with a scientific presentation using knowledge gained by library or laboratory research. Each student will work with a Capstone Mentor on either their research or library work. The Capstone Mentor interaction is described below.

This seminar course meets the "Senior Seminar/Project" portion of the "Specific Core Requirements" for all baccalaureate degrees. Students normally enroll in the class during their last year in the major. The seminar course occurs during the entire year while credit is awarded in the spring semester. All seminars are open to the public, and all students interested in chemistry are encouraged to attend the seminars whether given by PLU speakers or outside speakers.

The course requirements include the following:

Capstone Mentors:

Every student needs a faculty member to act as their Capstone Mentor. The course instructor will work with a student in finding a Capstone Mentor if needed. It is the students responsibility to schedule meetings with their Capstone Mentor, meet deadlines, and present a professional quality seminar. The Capstone Mentor’s primary role will be include the following:

This faculty member will be the student’s research mentor for those students doing research (most BS students) in conjunction with Chemistry 410, Introduction to Research. For those students doing a library project (most BA students) for your presentation, you will also need to ask a faculty member to act as your Capstone Mentor.

Typical Student - Mentor Activities

Fall Activities:

The The process of learning to give effective seminars is gained through a number of venues. The fall semester is directed at a number of skills which will enhance your ability to deliver an effective scientific oral presentation. This activities will include the following:

Possible Field Trip:

We will possibly go on a field trip to hear chemical seminars presented at the Pauling Symposium. Winners of the Pauling Medals have often gone on to win a Nobel prize. Needless to say, these are among the best scientists in the world. The Pauling Symposium is held at a different NW university every year. This year the Pauling Symposium will be hosted by Oregon State University on Saturday, November 17th. The winner is Jacqueline K. Barton from from the California Institue of Technology. The talks start at 12:30 pm and end about 5pm. If we can arrange this trip, you will may only need to provide lunch.

Capstone Paper:

Your research or literature project also needs to be documented with a substantial paper. You will work with your Capstone Mentor to decide on a structure and format. Traditionally this paper follows a structure of a chemical research publication though may be different depending on your particular circumstances. The paper will be evaluated by your capstone mentor, and the chemistry 499 instructor. An outline is due by the end of the fall semester and a rough draft will be due early in the spring semester. This final paper will be due just after spring break in the spring semester. An exact day will be given in the spring semester. If there are extenuating circumstances (decided by both the chemistry 499 instructor and capstone mentor after a written request), the deadline will be no later than two weeks before your scheduled seminar date. The capstone paper must be submitted in order to give your seminar.

Oral Presentation:

Your oral presentation is the culmination of the activities of this class and in many ways the culmination of your chemistry major in the presentation of your research or literature project. The oral presentation has a number of requirements to receive a grade of excellent. A graded oral presentation practice talk must be completed AT LEAST ONE WEEK BEFORE your actual seminar. This practice talk is given to your capstone mentor. The presentation will be an oral seminar of at least 40 minutes with additional time allowed for questions. (The time may be modified for timing but will not be longer.) The structure of the seminar is that of a traditional chemistry talk and will be studied during the fall semester. All seminars are open to the public, and all students interested in chemistry are encouraged to attend the seminars whether given by PLU speakers or outside speakers. The oral presentations will be given during the week of Academic Festival. We will work to focus the times to minimize overlap with other scheduled activities. We have called this the Capstone Celebration Week highlighting your academic acheivements. Here is the link to last year's Capstone Week.

Evaluation Guideline:

The final grade will reflect the following basic distribution of course contributions.

Participation and Attendance 5% 25 pts
Seminar Evaluations 10% 50 pts
Software Skills 5% 25 pts
Presentations on Text 5% 25 pts
Seminar Introduction 5% 25 pts
Research Report 15% 75 pts
Practice Seminar Presentation 5% 25 pts
Student Seminar Presentation 50% 250 pts
Total 100% 500 pts

Sakai for Chemistry Seminar:

This course will make use of Sakai for a number of things but likely mostly notably will be for announcements and reminders about seminar speackers. You should have been added to the 499 Sakai list. If you are not on the roster for Sakai, let me know and I will add you.

Computer Software In Chemistry Resource Room / Room 224:

Special Consideration:

If you need any course adaptations or accommodations because of a special need or disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need other special arrangements, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible. If you have questions concerning the services available for special needs at PLU, please call

Wanda Wentworth at x8786 or Alene Klein at x7602