The great advantage of an undergraduate research experience is the opportunity it provides to work in a research-equipped laboratory on a scientific problem that will take the student well beyond the scope of textbook instruction.
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry encourages students to start exploring research options as early as freshman year.
Before joining a lab, students need to consider the extent of their background and future interest in science. While research can be an exciting option for undergraduate majors in chemistry and biochemistry, it should not be taken lightly; the research experience presents responsibilities for both the student and the instructor.
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The first step is determining where your research interests lie. Research projects are often intensive dives into specific fields of chemistry, so it is important for students to find a lab that aligns with their interests!
Read through the Explore Faculty Research link below to learn more about the areas of study being conducted at the UO. For detailed descriptions of research projects, visit faculty members’ websites from the Meet Our Faculty Researchers link.
More information about research areas, facilities and institutes can be found on the department's Research page.
Now that you have an idea of what research you're interested in, you will need to contact the faculty member about joining their lab. Send the faculty member an email introducing yourself and explain that you are interested in pursuing an undergraduate research project in their lab, and request a time to meet.
If you are interested in more than one lab, contact faculty members one at a time. If the first faculty member you contact does not have an opening for an undergraduate researcher, email the next one on your list.
Students are not limited to faculty members in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry! There are many faculty members conducting research in related areas of science outside of this department (i.e., molecular biology, neuroscience, chemical physics, physics, and cell biology).
Be sure to discuss the research terms with the faculty member beforehand. There are three options for undergraduates during each term: volunteer position, academic credit (CH 401), or, less common, hourly wage.
Many undergraduate researchers begin working in the lab as a volunteer. This allows the students to gain the experience and knowledge necessary to take the laboratory for credit (CH 401, see Step 4). Occasionally, students may earn an hourly wage in the research laboratory by arrangement with the individual faculty member.
All undergraduate research requires a weekly time commitment to the lab which is arranged with the research professor. Academic credit and an hourly wage can not be claimed for the same time commitment.
Students have the option to earn academic credit for research experience by submitting a CH 401 Authorization Form to the Chemistry and Biochemistry office. Submitting this form will allow you to enroll in the CH 401 Research course.
If you will be doing research in a lab outside the department and want to earn chemistry credit toward your degree, be sure to talk with your advisor about the approval process.
For every 1-credit enrollment in a lab a student can expect to be dedicating 3-4 hours per week to their research for the term. For example, 3 credits would require about 9-12 hours per week for 10 weeks. The exact number of credit hours for which a student may enroll during any one term depends upon the agreement reached with the faculty director.
You should discuss the expected hours per credit with your faculty prior to beginning your research. If you are receiving payment for the research arrangement, academic credit and an hourly wage cannot be claimed for the same time commitment.
Research and Advanced Elective Requirements
Chemistry Degree If chemical research is going to be included as part of the advanced elective for the chemistry major, at least six credit hours of CH 401 must be completed. If six credit hours are completed, one advanced elective must also be taken. Nine credits of undergraduate research will fully fulfill the advance elective requirement for the chemistry major without the need to take advanced electives.
Biochemistry Degree If biochemical research is being used for the the advanced elective requirement for the biochemistry major, at least one year (six credit hours) of undergraduate research and a written Biochemistry Research Report are required.
Opportunities for undergraduate research are also offered at the UO and other institutions during the summer.
For more information on undergraduate research students may contact an Undergraduate Advisor or any member of the chemistry and biochemistry faculty.