ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) – Starting this fall, Elmira College will become one of just three institutions in the United States offering an academic program in medicinal plant chemistry.

The program is one of four new concentrations being offered within the college's chemistry degree. Students pursuing a bachelor's in chemistry will choose a concentration in medicinal plant chemistry, general chemistry, professional chemistry or chemistry for health sciences.

The medicinal plant chemistry track is designed for those interested in analyzing plants for medicinal and food applications. Officials say it provides students with a “strong background in plant biology, applications of medicinal chemistry and instrumental analysis of products derived from plants”.

"With the rise of herbal supplements, craft breweries, and wineries, the medicinal plant chemistry track provides students with a strong background in plant biology and applications of medicinal chemistry and instrumental analysis to products derived from plants," said Dr. Corey Stilts, provost at Elmira College. "Skilled professionals are, and will continue to be, needed to perform extraction, purification, and analysis of products originating from plants for things such as craft beer, wine, essential oils, and medicinal cannabis."

According to Forbes, the legal cannabis industry is projected to grow over 500% in the next 10 years in North America and 5,000% worldwide in that same time frame.

Officials say qualified lab analysts are currently finding positions paying up to $70,000 right out of college.

Additionally, as the craft brewing industry increases, the market for workers specializing in extraction and analysis of hops is expected to crow. The wine industry also requires experts in plant biochemistry, quality control and process development.

The general chemistry track is designed for students desiring a career in chemistry without a graduate degree. This track ensures that students cover many topics within chemistry in addition to providing flexibility with the general education requirements and allows students to double major in a non-science discipline easily. This track is appropriate for students interested in teaching high school or middle school chemistry.

The professional chemistry track is designed for students interested in attending graduate school in chemistry. This track provides students with a strong foundation in organic, analytical, inorganic, and physical chemistries and will prepare students to enter masters or doctoral programs in many fields of chemistry.

The chemistry for health sciences track is for students who intend to become healthcare professionals (physicians, dentists, veterinarians, etc.). After successful completion, the student will have obtained the content and skills needed for transition to professional school in the medical field.

Additional information on Elmira College's chemistry program is available on elmira.edu.