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AISS/IBC Invitation

Integrated Science Courses in Keck Science for Incoming First-Year Students
Applications Must Be Submitted by Sunday, July 10
Dear incoming student,
Welcome to the dynamic and vibrant learning community at the Claremont Colleges.  As faculty who have had the pleasure of teaching at the Keck Science Department of Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges for a number of years, we can write with confidence that you’ve made a great college choice!
Not only are the Claremont Colleges distinctive in American higher education, but the Keck Science Department is fairly unique (in Claremont and beyond) due to its truly interdisciplinary structure and highly collaborative environment. This structure has inspired us to create several unique educational opportunities for first-year students. We are writing now to invite you to apply to one or both of our innovative interdisciplinary introductory science courses (AISS and IBC) available to you at Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges.
Why did we create AISS and IBC?  Many of the most important and most interesting scientific challenges that face society are interdisciplinary in nature. These include, but are certainly not limited to, major scientific challenges such as the molecular mechanisms of human diseases, the progression of climate change, and the inner workings of the human brain. To best prepare students for these interdisciplinary scientific challenges in Claremont and beyond, we have created integrated interdisciplinary introductory science classes with the support of the National Science Foundation and the S.D. Bechtel Jr Foundation.
What are AISS and IBC?  While AISS (Accelerated Integrated Science Sequence) and IBC (Introduction to Biological Chemistry) are separate classes, they share much of the same DNA.  Both courses are designed to substitute for our other, more traditional introductory courses. Both courses are team-taught by faculty with training in different disciplines, enabling connections between material (some planned, some unplanned) to occur in real time, intertwining and enhancing the material of traditional introductory science courses.  Both courses use the interdisciplinary setting to emphasize modern research topics at the interface of disciplines such as personalized medicine, epigenetics, protein engineering, synthetic biology, and more.  Both courses are great for students who are excited about science broadly, and will train students to think and work in an interdisciplinary manner, a characteristic highly sought in the most rapidly advancing areas of science.
What kind of students are a good fit for AISS or IBC (and which are not)?  Students who are passionate about science and scientific research and are ready to learn about science in a new and highly interconnected way will be most likely to thrive in this course. Since both courses are double courses, students must be willing to take two science classes at one time.  While students in either course are well prepared to continue in nearly all science majors in Keck, engineering schools have specific course requirements, which are not met by AISS or IBC.  We do not advise these students to take these courses, and, instead, we recommend students interested in engineering school contact our engineering advisor Professor James Higdon at to discuss course selection.
How do AISS and IBC differ?  While AISS and IBC are similar in many ways, there are several key differences.  AISS is a full-year double course that substitutes for the full year of Introductory Physics, Chemistry and Biology; IBC is a one-semester double course that combines the material in the first semester of Introductory Chemistry and Introductory Biology (most students who complete IBC will then take the traditional, separate second semester of Introductory Chemistry and Biology). AISS integrates computer modeling and calculus into the course, and thus requires experience with calculus; IBC does not require calculus.  AISS is accelerated both in content and pace and thus is appropriate for students with strong backgrounds in math and science; IBC is appropriate for all students.
How do students apply? To apply for either or both programs (you may express your preference in the application), simply answer the questions in the “Accelerated Integrated Science Sequence and/or Introduction to Biological Chemistry” portion of this website.  Your application must be submitted before July 10, 2016.  We hope to notify you in the first week of August.
We truly feel that these courses are unique, formative experiences that are an incredible way to kick off a college science education.  We are proud to be able to offer this option to our students and hope that you will consider these unique opportunities.  For more information, please go to the following websites: for AISS: / for IBC:  If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us (our information is below).  We look forward to seeing you in the Fall.  Welcome to Claremont!
AISS / Scot Gould / Physics /
AISS / Zhaohua Irene Tang / Biology /
AISS / Melissa Coleman / Biology /
IBC / Emily Wiley / Biology /
IBC / Aaron Leconte / Chemistry /