Career Planning

Chemistry - Career Planning

Career Overview for the Chemistry Major

The Hendrix College chemistry major prepares students for success in a variety of intellectually rewarding careers within the healthcare, engineering, energy, environmental, governmental, academic, non-profit, and entrepreneurial sectors. Opportunities abound for developing essential skills and capacities that facilitate achievement in these fields and beyond.

For example, chemistry students hone their critical thinking and problem solving skills by engaging in research and inquiry-based learning opportunities, both of which emphasize experimental work (from planning and execution to troubleshooting) and data processing (from organization and synthesis to analysis). Students develop communication skills as they write research reports and proposals, deliver professional research presentations at national, regional, and local scientific conferences, and collaborate with peers and faculty both in and out of the classroom. Finally, chemistry majors sharpen their leadership skills by working as laboratory or research assistants, participating in collaborative team learning exercises, engaging in community outreach activities, and serving as peer mentors or tutors.

Through one-on-one advising, professional networking, apprenticeships, and opportunities to engage in career exploration beyond the classroom, Hendrix chemistry students not only graduate with the skills and professional acumen necessary for success within the chemical sciences, but have gained the self-awareness necessary to find their passion and live lives of accomplishment beyond Hendrix.

Internship & Career Exploration

Ideas/Steps for Career Discernment:

General advice for Chemistry Majors

All members of the Chemistry Department are happy to talk with students about graduate school and career opportunities available to students who major in chemistry or related fields.

Students planning to pursue post-graduate education in chemistry or related areas are strongly encouraged to complete the American Chemical Society (ACS) certified degree in Chemistry (see Catalog)

Engagement in undergraduate research, on or off campus, is encouraged for all chemistry majors. Participation in research activities promotes development of critical career competencies, including critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration, leadership, and technical skills.

Internship and research activities for Chemistry Majors

The chemistry department offers a wide range of research opportunities under the direction of chemistry faculty members at Hendrix that are completed during the summer or the academic year. High-quality research opportunities within the chemistry department are supported by more than $600,000 in funding, including research topics such as

  • Atmospheric chemistry and climate effects of atmospheric aerosols
  • Biochemical applications of mass spectrometry
  • Biochemical mechanisms by which alcoholic beverages produce liver damage
  • Computational chemistry for drug discovery
  • Determination of the role of metals in essential biological processes
  • Development of model biological membranes
  • Development of organocatalyzed reactions
  • Organic synthesis of probes for detecting DNA damage
Students interested in getting involved in undergraduate research at Hendrix should contact any member of the chemistry department to discuss available options.

Previous chemistry majors have taken advantage of off-campus research and professional internships at the following organizations and undergraduate research programs:

A degree in chemistry prepares you for a career in a plethora of science- and technology-related fields. Consult the “What can I do with this Major” database for ideas. A chemistry degree would prepare you for working in many of the disciplines listed on the database among others.

Employment & Graduate School

While the majority of chemistry majors eventually go on to pursue graduate or professional school degrees, others directly enter the workforce. Below are some companies and organizations that have hired chemistry majors immediately upon graduation from Hendrix.

  • Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ – Little Rock, AR)
  • Arkansas Department of Transportation (Little Rock, AR)
  • Arkansas State Crime Lab (Little Rock, AR)
  • Ball Aerospace (Boulder, CO)
  • Consumer Testing Laboratories (Bentonville, AR)
  • L’Oreal (North Little Rock, AR)
  • Quality control laboratories (nationally)
  • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS – Little Rock, AR)

Graduate and Professional School

Students planning to pursue post-graduate education in chemistry or related areas are strongly encouraged to complete the American Chemical Society (ACS) certified degree in Chemistry (see Catalog and discuss graduate programs of interest with their faculty advisors.

The ACS certified chemistry degree prepares students for graduate (Masters or Ph.D.) programs in the following areas:

  • Analytical chemistry
  • Atmospheric science
  • Biochemistry
  • Bioethics
  • Bioinformatics
  • Chemical, mechanical, or environmental engineering
  • Dental school
  • Environmental science/li>
  • Forensic chemistry
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Law school
  • Materials science
  • Medical school
  • Organic chemistry
  • Pharmacy school
  • Physical chemistry
  • Veterinary school

A sample of recent occupations of Hendrix chemistry graduates (since 2000)

  • Computer programming
  • Dentist
  • Entrepreneur
  • Environmental consulting
  • Master brewer
  • Medical doctor
  • Military explosive specialists
  • Patent law/review
  • Pharmacist
  • Product development engineer
  • Professor
  • Research scientist
  • Scientific sales representative

Alumni Highlights

At Hendrix, students who major in chemistry receive highly specialized technical training in the context of a liberal arts education. Thus, our students are purposefully equipped with broadly applicable career competencies, particularly critical thinking/problem solving, communication, intercultural collaboration, leadership, professionalism, and career management skills. The following stories highlight the successes of Hendrix College chemistry majors:

Critical Thinking/Problem Solving

Meredith Jennings (nee Miles)

Meredith Jennings ’12 puts her critical thinking and problem solving skills to the test on a regular basis in her career at the Houston Advanced Research Center, where she provides independent consulting and analysis on energy, air, and water issues of concern to the public. Meredith’s career preparation began at Hendrix, where her faculty-guided undergraduate research studying the biogeochemical effects of nutrient deposition to the remote oceans inspired her to pursue a Ph.D. in Marine Chemistry at the University of Miami.


Derek Lowe

A liberal arts degree equips a chemist with communication skills that can have an extraordinary impact across one’s entire career. After graduating from Hendrix, Harrisburg, AR native Derek Lowe '83 earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Duke University in 1988, then landed a prestigious Humboldt Fellowship to study in Darmstadt, Germany for a year. For the last three decades, Derek has worked in the pharmaceutical industry researching treatments for diseases ranging from schizophrenia to multiple sclerosis. Derek presents frequently at national and international conferences, and has an extensive list of scientific publications and more than 25 patents to his credit. However, he is perhaps best known for his blog about drug discovery, chemistry, and other scientific news, which is now the oldest continuously-running science blog on the internet (founded in 2002) and garners about 20,000 page views a day.

Intercultural Collaboration

Robert Nshimiyimana

Chemistry majors at Hendrix benefit from amazing opportunities to broaden their horizons and make connections with the broader global community. For example, Robert Nshimiyimana ’15 of Rwanda graduated from Hendrix in May, 2015 with a degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and a minor in Studio Art. While at Hendrix, Robert volunteered at Conway Regional Medical Center, traveled to Fairbanks Alaska on Miller Center Mission Trip, volunteered to help rebuild in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, and spent a semester at Ulster University, Coleraine, Northern Ireland, UK. In addition to his volunteer activities, Robert worked on chemistry research, which led to two co-authored papers on Warfarin, and presented research results at two National Meetings of the American Chemical Society. Robert is now in the Ph.D. Chemistry program at the University of Southern California, where he is currently doing drug discovery research at the interface of chemistry, biology, and medicine, specifically synthesizing bioactive lipids that could potentially promote the resolution of inflammation and accelerate the regeneration/healing of tissue.


Colin Mayer

During his time at Hendrix, Colin Mayer ‘19 served as a leader on the football field as well as in the chemistry laboratory. In addition to serving as a laboratory assistant leader for multiple courses, Colin devoted his time to academic success through peer tutoring and participating in cancer research under the direction of Distinguished University Professor Dr. John Byrd (Hendrix alumni) of The Ohio State University.


Reece Mitchell

Reece Mitchell ‘20, senior chemistry major, has earned the respect of his peers and professors thanks to his outstanding organizational, time-management, and communication skills. These aspects of professionalism serve him well in his roles as a student, stockroom and laboratory assistant, undergraduate researcher, and president of the Hendrix College Chapter of Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society. His demonstrated work ethic and poise position him well for success as a medical student in the future.

Career Management

Annie Greenaway

Chemistry majors at Hendrix have access to competitive scholarships, fellowships, and other distinctions that can launch an illustrious career. Dr. Annie Greenaway ‘12, took advantage of these opportunities and obtained both a Goldwater Scholarship, which supports students planning on a career in scientific research, as well as a Truman Scholarship, an esteemed graduate fellowship for students pursuing careers as public service leaders. After completing her PhD at the University of Oregon, Annie was awarded a prestigious Department of Energy SULI internship at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, CO, where she now works as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate developing materials for solar hydrogen renewable energy products.