COVID-19 FAQ for Chemistry Students

The Chemistry curriculum is designed to function as an integral part of the liberal arts program of the College. The courses taken in normal sequence bring the student from general principles through advanced theories to the practical applications of research and industry. Science and non-science majors thus begin together and proceed to a level appropriate for their chosen program.

An open letter from the faculty and staff of the Chemistry Department:

November 6, 2020

The Department of Chemistry at Gustavus Adolphus College recognizes and condemns the long history of violence and oppression that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) have suffered. Among other forms of systemic racism, scientists have been complicit in creating a system that advantages white people in STEM disciplines and in health care. The very land our department uses was stolen by force and by broken treaty from the original caretakers, the people of the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ nations. We acknowledge that our department has not always lived up to our goals related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we have often been slow to respond to an unfair and often hostile environment for BIPOC and other minoritized people. We must and will do better. We must strive to dismantle the oppressive structures of racism and other forms of injustice, both within our department and more broadly.

Guided by the Gustavus mission statement, the Chemistry department strives to provide a supportive and open learning environment. We need to address issues affecting students from underrepresented and marginalized racial and ethnic groups, and also students from other marginalized groups based upon socioeconomic status, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, dis/ability, place of origin, citizen status, veteran status, age, and/or status as a first-generation college student. We commit to respect the dignity, individuality and freedom of each community member while providing a place where individuals and groups learn from each other. We aim to create an environment for learning, teaching, and conducting research in which all people are treated with respect and dignity and no person is discriminated against or harassed. Our goal is to support each of our students in their pursuit of achieving excellence. 

While it is important to support our students with a letter such as this, if our words are not followed by changes in department actions, then we have failed. To that end, the Chemistry Department has committed to a strategic review and planning process in which we first identify and examine our biggest challenges. In this process, we will gather data and feedback from all stakeholders, especially past and current chemistry students. We will set specific goals and take specific actions that make our department more inclusive for students, faculty, and staff. Although that strategic planning process will take time, we commit to the following near-term actions: 

  • To work with the administration to continue the implicit bias training for student employees that was launched in Spring 2020. 
  • To seek increased professional development for faculty and staff on DEI issues. This includes, for example, discussing and implementing ideas from research on inclusive teaching practices and attending trainings, workshops, and conferences on issues related to inclusive excellence.
  • To highlight the scientific contributions of BIPOC and other minoritized groups in the field of chemistry.
  • To promote racial justice in our broader scientific communities. While serving on grant review boards and participating in professional societies, for example, we will leverage our leadership roles and professional networks to foster the inclusion of scientists from minoritized groups.
  • To create open and welcoming spaces where we can listen to students whose voices are frequently unheard. One example will be the establishment of open office hours for students, faculty, and staff to identify, discuss, or report challenges related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, or any other areas of concern.
  • To create a means for regular communication with students about our progress on these goals.

If you wish to share feedback you may email your comments to the Chemistry Department co-chairs: Dr. Scott Bur ( and/or Dr. Brandy Russell (

Brandy Russell
Scott Bur
Jeff Dahlseid
Dwight Stoll
Judy Helmeke
Amanda Nienow
Himali Somaweera
Jessica Imholte
Heather Haemig
Aron Anderson
Melissa Denler
Brian O’Brien
Ian Hill
Jeff Jeremiason
Jim Parejko
Angie Archer


Brandy RussellAssociate Professor and Co-Chair507-933-6160web
Scott BurProfessor and Co-Chair507-933-7038web
Jeff JeremiasonProfessor507-933-6235web
Amanda NienowProfessor507-933-7327web
Brian O'BrienProfessor507-933-7320web
Bob PirokResearch Professor
Dwight StollProfessor507-933-6304web
Jeff Dahlseid ’90Associate Professor507-933-6129web
Brenda KellyAssociate Professor507-933-7541
Janie FrandsenAssistant Professor507-933-7039
Ajit GhimireVisiting Research Professor2256037957
Heather HaemigSenior Continuing Assistant Professor507-933-6333
Jessica ImholteSenior Continuing Lab Instructor507-933-6303
Aron AndersonAdjunct Assistant Professor507-933-6051
Melissa DenlerVisiting Assistant Professor507-933-6491
Ian HillVisiting Assistant Professor507-933-6327
Himali SomaweeraVisiting Assistant Professor507-933-6335
Angie ArcherLaboratory Program Coordinator507-933-6158web
Thomas LauerStaff Scientist507-218-2063
Tina DahlseidResearch Assistant507-933-7320
Emma Plemens-SchunkStudent Assistant
Judith HelmekeAdministrative Assistant507-933-7320
Thomas GoverProfessor Emeritus
Lawrence PottsProfessor Emeritus
Allan SplittgerberProfessor Emeritus
Afnaan Hashmi507-933-6304