Humboldt State University ® Department of Chemistry

Richard A. Paselk

Seminar in Chemistry

Fall 2007


Office: SA560a
Office Hours: MW 3-4, WF 2-3, Th 10-11; other times by appointment.


Phone: x 5719
Home: 822-1116

Schedule: See Chemistry 485 on my Web Page ( You will note that the schedule is tentative. I will be updating it on the web. I may announce updates in class, but you are responsible to check the Chem 485 web pages for changes!

Prerequisites: Senior standing in Chemistry - students should not enroll in seminar until their last full year prior to graduation.


Course Description

Each student will present a nominal one-hour public-invited seminar (approximately 45 to 50 minutes followed by approximately 10 to 15 minutes of questions for the presenter) to students, faculty, and staff in the Department of Chemistry and the general public.  The seminar will be evaluated on content (emphasis on chemistry content), organization and context of the topic within the field of chemistry, visual and oral presentation style, citation of references, and ability to answer pertinent questions, among other things.

Students in the course will choose their topic, in consultation with me, from review topics in "News and Views" in Nature, or "News Focus" or "Perspectives" in Science published since 1 January 2006. The seminar given on one of these topics is expected to be relatively narrow in scope and must include references to the primary literature that places the topic in context (background) as well as to appropriate recent primary literature to demonstrate the current interest and knowledge in the topic.

The seminar presentation must be 45-50 minutes in length.  In order to accomplish this time limit, you must practice your presentation multiple times before your actual scheduled seminar time.  (The classroom, Science A room 564, is not generally available at nights or on weekends because the computer and equipment are locked, but the Computational Chemistry Laboratory, room 565, has computer projection facilities and is generally available 24/7 outside of scheduled classes, and you can request access to that room. Room schedules are available on-line:

(A suggestion as a start is to have approximately one slide per minute, so if you need a 45 minute presentation, about 45 slides are needed. On the other hand, I have seen successful seminars with half that number of slides. It really depends on how much info you have on your slides and the type of info and how much explanation it requires.)

You may use Microsoft PowerPoint or html if you wish; transparencies or 35 mm slides are also acceptable

Attendance is required and will be recorded.

Grading: Chem 485 is a graded course. Your grade will be based on:

  1. A formal seminar presented to students, faculty, and staff in the Department of Chemistry and the general public.
    1. The seminar presentation is the single greatest determinant of your grade based on:
      1. My evaluation of your presentation including organization, clarity, quality of illustrations, ability to communicate, apparent knowledge and preparation, ability to answer questions etc. In addition, the seminar presentation will be evaluated by all attending faculty members of the department.  The evaluations of the faculty attending the seminar will be weighted heavily determining the success of your presentation. The seminar presentation will be evaluated by the other students enrolled in Chemistry Seminar (Chem 485). I will use student evaluations of the seminars in determining the success of your presentation style and effectiveness in communication.
      2. Additional evidence of your preparation, such as your list of references.
      3. In the case where a seminar presentation "didn't work," I will look at the outline for evidence that the presenter in fact "did the work" but failed the presentation for other reasons (e.g. "totally freaked out"). You may still pass Chem 485 on the basis of your outline, though your grade will of course be reduced for an unsuccessful presentation.
      4. Failure to give your seminar on the scheduled date without a "serious and compelling" reason will result in an automatic "F." An incomplete may be assigned for "serious and compelling" reasons.
    2. The quality of your evaluations of your colleague's presentations may affect your grade by a + or -.
  2. Attendence: Unexcused absences will reduce your grade. Three absences will result in automatic failure (or an incomplete if excused) regardless of academic performance!
  3. Pre-Seminar meetings: Grades will be reduced by one half letter (-) for each failure to arrange and show up for the "pre-seminar" meetings with me.

Drop Policy: The last day to withdraw from this course without my and department chair’s signatures and with no notation of withdrawal is Monday, 17 September. After that time "serious and compelling reasons" are needed to drop this course. Serious and compelling reasons are generally considered to be problems outside of the student's control and which could not be anticipated, such as serious illness or hospitalization. If you do have a problem, please notify me as soon as possible if you think it may require your dropping the class.

Incompletes: Incompletes are generally reserved for students who are unable to complete the class for serious and compelling reasons which occur after the last drop period.


If you have a documented learning disability and would like to discuss academic accommodations, please contact me as soon as possible. Our campus Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) can assist you with the accommodation process and can be reached at (707) 826-5392 (TDD). The SDRC is located in House 71 (Little Apartments) off Library Circle.



Department Seminar Schedule

© R A Paselk

Last modified 23 August 2007