Opportunities for Undergraduate Research
Introduction to undergraduate research in the chemistry department
An important component of the undergraduate chemistry degree experience is the opportunity to pursue some kind of independent research project. Students will typically initiate such a project by registering for Individual Investigation (CHEM 40796). Some students will subsequently complete a more extensive project leading to the writing of a senior thesis. These vehicles provide an excellent opportunity for students to learn, on a one-on-one basis with a faculty member of their own choosing, some of the skills required to become a successful practicing chemist. Pursuit of such a project promotes intellectual development and enhances a student’s practical skills in ways that cannot be readily accomplished in a more traditional laboratory course. It is quite common for the research work performed by undergraduates to be presented at professional conferences and published in chemical journals. The experiences garnered during a student’s undergraduate research experience will prove invaluable in securing a position in a top graduate school, obtaining an industrial job, or gaining access to a top medical or other professional school.
A wide variety of research projects suitable for pursuit by undergraduates are available in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. This booklet contains a one-page summary of research interests at the undergraduate level for each chemistry faculty member who has expressed an interest in advising undergraduates through an individual research project. You are encouraged to read through these descriptions and then contact any faculty whose research interests you. Remember - it is important for you to let the faculty know that you are interested in working with them. If you find a faculty member with whom you would like to work, and who is willing to direct your research project, then you may register for the appropriate course and begin your exciting journey to the cutting edge of chemistry. If you have any questions, please contact Catherine Slapnicker at (330) 672-2405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Which course should I register for?
A) Individual Investigation (CHEM 40796). Most students who wish to begin pursuing a research project will register for Individual Investigation (CHEM 40796). To be eligible, students must have a 2.5 GPA in chemistry (not overall). It is common for students to begin registering for this course in their sophomore or junior year. In this way they will have the opportunity to pursue a project for several semesters prior to graduation which will usually lead to a much more productive and rewarding experience than if a student tries to embark on a project for only one or two semesters in their senior year. There is a form available from the Undergraduate Chemistry Office in 208 Williams Hall that must be completed and signed by your prospective research advisor before you will be allowed to register for the course. Repeat registration is allowed and encouraged; however, while all credit hours will contribute toward your overall 121 credit hour degree requirements, only a limited number of Individual Investigation hours can be used in partial fulfillment of required upper-level major elective hours, as follows: B.S. Chemistry (Chemistry and Materials Chemistry Concentration) and B.A. Chemistry: up to 2 credit hours of CHEM 40796 may be used to fulfill the 2-4 hours of required upper-level CHEM electives; B.S. Chemistry (Biochemistry Concentration): up to 4 credit hours of CHEM 40796 may be used to fulfill the 9 hours of required upper-level CHEM/BSCI electives. A formal written report documenting your research accomplishments must be submitted to your research advisor at the end of the semester, with a copy signed by your advisor forwarded to the Assistant Chair in the Undergraduate Chemistry Office, before a grade can be awarded. An S/U grade is awarded for the course.
b) Senior Honors Thesis (CHEM 40099, HONR 40099). Students who are planning to graduate with University Honors typically pursue undergraduate research leading to the writing of a Senior Honors Thesis. Qualified students who have not completed all the requirements for graduation with University Honors can still graduate with Departmental Honors by completing a Senior Thesis. Usually, a student will register for Individual Investigation until the summer of their junior year. During the following year, they would register for between 5 and 10 semester hours of Senior Honors Thesis under either CHEM 40099 or HONR 40099. Departmental and Honors College approval are required prior to undertaking such thesis work. Towards the end of the final semester, a thesis describing the research work must be written and defended before a small faculty committee. This is an excellent opportunity to learn how to write and defend a scientific thesis, skills which will prove invaluable in graduate school or industry.
Undergraduate research projects