Amanda McCarthy

Senior Instructor in Chemistry Laboratory

Involved in teaching and developing both introductory and organic chemistry laboratories.

As a graduate student, my research was in the area of environmental chemistry. I concentrated on the search for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the sediment of Lake Champlain. PCBs were used extensively in industry due to their non-flammability and heat-resistant properties. They were used as lubricants, transformers, capacitors, and petroleum additives, but they were banned in the early 1970s after they were found to pose a significant health threat to humans and other consumers of fish which bioaccumulate PCBs. PCBs are now found throughout the environment in fish, water, sediment, and soil. So, it is of great interest to find where these environmental contaminants are located. To do this one needs to understand aquatic chemistry and analytical techniques, as well as how organic molecules behave in aqueous environments. In addition, I also looked for pesticides, hydrocarbons, chlorobenzenes, and other organic environmental contaminants in Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, N.Y.

My role at Wellesley College as a laboratory instructor is wide ranging as I am actively involved in teaching and developing both introductory and organic chemistry laboratories. I teach several of our introductory chemistry labs (Chemistry 105, Chemistry 105P, Chemistry 120, Chemistry 205) as well as both of our organic chemistry labs (Chemistry 211 and Chemistry 212). In addition to teaching, I also enjoy modifying and developing new experiments for all of the courses that I have been involved in.

I love teaching in the multitude of our department’s core chemistry courses as it provides me the opportunity to see students in multiple settings, I can refer to either past or upcoming experiments that the students will be exposed to, and I enjoy watching my students mature as chemists.

In addition to teaching, I have been a member of the Wellesley College Medical Professions Advisory Committee since 2017.

In my free time, I enjoy a variety of activities. In the winter, my family and I ski at our favorite mountain, Mad River Glen in Vermont. In the spring and summer months, we enjoy hiking and camping. I also love music of any kind (jazz, bluegrass, classical, rock, etc). I also play the flute and piccolo in the Southeastern Massachusetts Community Concert Band (SMCCB).

College Chemistry Website


  • B.S., Syracuse University
  • M.S., Syracuse University