Please see below for an update from the Department of Chemistry regarding plans for the 2020-2021 academic year. This was sent to all chemistry undergraduates on June 3rd, 2020.

Dear Chemistry Students:

On behalf of the Department of Chemistry, we would like to thank you for quickly adapting to learning chemistry remotely. As you know, the quick transition to remote learning in spring quarter resulted in many of our laboratory classes being removed from the spring schedule. As a response to this change the Department added lecture courses, staffed all our courses with extra TAs, and quickly got instructors and TAs up to speed with some basic remote teaching tools. We hope these efforts have resulted in a productive spring quarter during a difficult time.   

The UCI Chancellor has recently announced that all summer session courses will be online, and we are  preparing for the possibility that fall quarter courses need to be remote as well. As a result, the Department has temporarily closed many fall 2020 in-person laboratories (please refer to our enrollment updates website for details: Many of you understandably want to know what steps the Department is taking to ensure your academic progress will not be significantly delayed. This email will hopefully address your concerns. 

Training and course development: In preparation for the fall quarter, we are working to expand our online teaching capabilities. UCI has allocated funds to assist us in developing a remote learning curriculum for many fall quarter courses. With the benefit of foresight, we will be better prepared for the fall 2020 quarter than we were in the spring when we all had to suddenly shift to online learning.

Lecture courses: All Chemistry lecture courses will be offered without deviating from the original schedule ( As far as we know, lecture courses will be in a remote format in fall 2020, and will hopefully transition back to conventional in-person format in winter 2021. To provide more flexibility, we have added CHEM 125: Advanced Organic Chemistry to the fall 2020 schedule (in addition to offering it in spring 2021).

Lower-division laboratories: We have developed a remote version of CHEM M3LC: Majors Quantitative Analytical Chemistry Laboratory. It will be offered in both fall 2020 (remotely) and in spring 2021 (in-person). 

The situation with organic chemistry labs CHEM M52L A-B-C is a bit more complicated. Assuming that no in-person lab courses are permitted in the fall quarter, students will have the following options:

  • Current freshmen (students who started in fall 2019) who were supposed to enroll in CHEM M52LA in fall 2020 will be waived out of CHEM M52LA and enroll in modified versions of CHEM M52LB and CHEM M52LC in winter and spring 2021,

  • Current Sophomores (students who started in fall 2018) who missed CHEM M52LC in spring 2020 will be able to continue to upper division courses and take CHEM M52LC (or CHEM 51LD) at the first available opportunity.

Upper-division laboratories: Assuming that no in-person lab courses are permitted in the fall quarter and the Department is unable to open upper division laboratories in fall 2020: 

  • The required course CHEM 152: Advanced Analytical Chemistry will be offered in winter 2021 and spring 2021. 

  • The elective laboratory course CHEM 133L: Nuclear and Radiochemistry Laboratory will be offered in winter 2021.

  • The elective laboratory course CHEM 160: Organic Synthesis Laboratory will be postponed to fall 2021.

Contingency plan for graduating seniors: in the event the pandemic continues into winter 2021, we will do the following to ensure graduating seniors can finish their degree on time. The following substitutions will be made for students who have applied to graduate in winter 2021, spring 202, summer 2021 and fall 2021:

  • We will develop and offer a remote version of CHEM 152: Advanced Analytical Chemistry in winter 2021 and spring 2021. Juniors will be able to enroll if space in the course permits. 

  • The Department will allow CHEM lectures to be substituted for upper-division chem lab courses. For example, students planning to enroll in CHEM 160: Organic Synthesis Laboratory as a lab elective could enroll in CHEM 125: Advanced Organic Chemistry

  • The Department will allow CHEM 127: Inorganic Chemistry II to be substituted for CHEM 107L: Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory.

Contingency plan for sophomore and junior students: in the event the pandemic continues into winter 2021, we will do the following to ensure students are not unreasonably delayed. 

  • If we cannot offer CHEM M52LB in winter 2021, students will be directed to take the non-major sequence CHEM 51LB - CHEM 51LC - CHEM 51LD, which will be offered remotely until the pandemic ends. CHEM 51LC is already developed and CHEM 51LB will be developed by the start of winter 2021.

  • CHEM 152 will be offered remotely as stated above.

  • Additional sections of CHEM 107L will be offered in subsequent years to allow students to catch up.

While we don’t have all the answers for what will happen with COVID-19, we are dedicated to minimizing the impact of the pandemic on your education. We understand that even with all these adjustments, some bumps along the road will be inevitable. Please be assured that we are working diligently to address all possible challenges in order to make things go as smoothly as possible for you. Your health and well-being are our most important responsibility, and we will never compromise your safety as we plan our responses to the challenges of the coming year. With the steps outlined above, we feel we have plans in place in order for you to receive the highest quality education. We are inspired by your patience, understanding, and adaptability during this unprecedented time and look forward to seeing you again in the upcoming academic year. As always, we encourage you to reach out to the Department at if there is anything we can do to better support you during this time.


Best regards,

Prof. Sergey Nizkorosdov, 2016-2020 Vice-Chair for Undergraduate Curriculum in Chemistry 

Prof. Jim Smith, 2020-2023 Vice-Chair for Undergraduate Curriculum in Chemistry

Morgan Sibley, Student Affairs Manager for the Department of Chemistry