Organic Chemistry (fwd)

joyce maxwell hcbio004 at DEWEY.CSUN.EDU
Sat Apr 6 17:57:39 EST 1996

Sorry, my post was returned with "address unknown"

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 6 Apr 1996 14:44:05 -0800 (PST)
From: joyce maxwell <hcbio004 at>
To: jphillip at
Subject: Organic Chemistry

I am a professor at CSUN, and I want you to know that at least 50% of our 
Biology majors fail Organic Chemistry at least once.  Many fail it 
repeatedly.  I have no idea why the course is so difficult for Biology 
majors, but it is and I have substantial evidence to prove my point.  The 
Biology faculty have met with Chemistry faculty here and they seem unable to 
change their behavior.

I took my B.A. degree in Zoology at UCLA many years ago, and later 
completed a Ph.D. in Genetics and Biochemistry at Caltech (back when 
there were only 11 women at the institute).  Organic Chemistry at UCLA 
was the only course I ever dropped, and I nearly had a nervous breakdown 
before I gave up.  Fortunately, I was in a special program for identified 
"gifted" students, and was able to drop.  Here at CSUN, students are not 
allowed to drop Organic Chemistry after the third week of class.

I finally passed Organic Chemistry with the help of Schaum's Outline 
Series in Organic Chemistry. It is sold in all college bookstores, I 
think.  One of my fellow students at Caltech who is now a professor at 
Univ. of Indiana asked, "why should a biologist care about an organic 
synthesis that only occurs at 2000 degrees under pressure?"  Try to keep 
your sense of humor; it helps. It also helps to find someone who really 
understands organic chemistry (some people do, for whatever reason) and 
knows how to teach it (this is the critical characteristic). Get that 
person to work with you as long as it takes.

Even if you have to repeat the course, please don't give up on genetics 
because of it.  I really haven't had to use all that stuff since 
undergraduate school a long time ago.  Good luck.
Joyce Maxwell
Dept. of Biology
Northridge, CA

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