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A Case of Respiratory Distress
This clinical case study was developed to engage students by making connections between core concepts in chemistry and physiological processes in the body. The case pertains to medication-induced methemoglobinemia, its etiology, diagnosis, and treatmen...

A Light Lunch?
This case study was developed to engage students by making connections between core concepts in chemistry and obesity related factors. The case is in the form of a story between two friends and their underestimation of the calories they consumed in a m...

Accidental Drowning or Foul Play?
This case was developed for use in the first semester of a sophomore organic chemistry laboratory to illustrate how a combination of techniques is usually required in the identification of chemical compounds. It involves a murder mystery with a forensi...

Aliens on Earth?
The discovery of a bacterium capable of substituting arsenic for phosphorus in its DNA was announced with much fanfare in 2010. It was immediately and very publicly critiqued by researchers posting their analyses of the paper on their blogs. The author...

An Adventure in Stereochemistry
Playfully alluding to Lewis Carroll’s tale of Alice Through the Looking Glass, this case study considers the problems that would arise if a person were to cross over into a mirror-image environment. Students read about a drowsy undergrad...

Bilirubin
In this case study, two students meet a professor who surprises them by telling them that a biochemically important molecule’s structure has been incorrectly represented in the published literature - in an article in the Proceedings of the Na...

Cats Have Nine Lives, But Only One Liver
In this case, a college student gives her cat Tylenol not knowing its potential harmful effects. The cat survives, but the incident motivates her to research the reaction mechanism underlying the liver toxicity of acetaminophen. The case outlines po...

Chirality and the Origins of Life
In this case study, students are guided through an example of how the amplification of enantiomeric excess in prebiotic amino acids may have contributed to the occurrence of only L-amino acids in nature. By studying the mechanism of racemization of ami...

Fat Facts
It's Mother's Day and Dolly, a high school senior, is making a Mediterranean salad for her mom, who is a college chemistry major and who likes to take every opportunity to teach Dolly what she has learned in school. Today is no exception, as she guides...

Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Bad for the Apple Industry?
In this interrupted case, students analyze a peer-reviewed article and apply the scientific method to solve an agricultural mystery. A fictional apple farmer and his son are trying to determine if high fructose corn syrup has led to the loss of the bee...

Oh, What a Difference a Carbon Can Make!
Sarah, trapped in the middle of a two-hour lecture on enzyme inhibition, attempts to escape by asking a question. She relates an old story she heard about some teenagers who drank from bottles of antifreeze marked "alcohol." Half of them died, but thos...

Organic Chemistry and Your Cellphone
This case study guides students through a systematic exploration of the synthesis and properties of poly(phenylene vinylene) (PPV), the first conjugated polymer applied as an organic light-emitting diode (OLED). Students determine how to synthesize a c...

Sweet Truth
This case reviews concepts of monosaccharide, disaccharide, and polysaccharide and contrasts the structures of different pairs of carbohydrates as well as the structure of sorbitol, a sugar substitute. It also depicts stereo chemistry concepts such as ...

The Case of the Missing Bees
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has claimed approximately one-third of the commercial honeybee population in recent years. A number of causes have been suggested for this phenomenon, including the consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) by the be...

The Chemistry of Cocaine
This case study on the chemistry of cocaine is in the form of a classroom discussion between a professor and her students about cocaine, its addictive properties, a search for an addiction treatment, and the chemistry involved in the synthesis of cocai...

The Chemistry of Curcumin
This case study was developed to engage students by making connections between core concepts in organic chemistry and the health-promoting chemical, curcumin, found in turmeric. The case is in the form of a dialogue between a couple about the surprisin...

The Molecular Origin of Life: Replication or Metabolism-First? Advanced Version
This case explores both the evidence and inconsistencies in the two major hypotheses for the origins of life on Earth: Replication-First or Metabolism-First. The case has two versions published on this website - one is written at the introductory level...