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Undergraduate Research

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry encourages well-prepared students to consider the possibilities of pursuing an undergraduate research project. Before enrolling in undergraduate research (CH 401) the student needs to consider the extent of his/her background and future interest in science.While this can prove to be an exciting option for undergraduate majors in chemistry and biochemistry, it is not one that should be taken lightly, for the research experience presents responsibilities both to the student and for the instructor.

The great advantage of the undergraduate research experience is the opportunity it provides the student to work in a research equipped laboratory on a scientific problem that will take the student well beyond the scope of textbook instruction. Students can consider research options as early as the sophomore year. However, it is more common to find students in research laboratories during their junior and/or senior years. Excellent opportunities for undergraduate research are also presented during the summer months.

Finding a Research Project

For information on faculty research interests, see the Faculty Research Interest Summary. A more detailed description of a faculty member’s research is available by following their link from the department Research Faculty page.  Information about research areas, facilities and institutes can be found on the department Research page.

Once you have determined where your interests lie, the selection process for finding a research project involves contacting the faculty member, introducing yourself and explaining that you are interested in pursuing an undergraduate research project in their lab. If you are interested in more than one research lab, contact the faculty members one at a time. If your first choice of labs does not have an opening for a undergraduate researcher, email the next faculty on your list.

Students are not limited only to faculty members formally in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. There are many faculty members in related areas of science outside of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, such as molecular biology, neuroscience, chemical physics, physics, and cell biology, with whom students may conduct research projects for credit towards a chemistry or biochemistry degree.

Earning Academic Credit for Research

Students earn academic credit from the undergraduate research experience by enrolling in Research (CH 401). A CH 401 Authorization Form must be submitted to the Chemistry and Biochemistry office in order to register for undergraduate research credits.

Academic credit hours are required for the research experience to be applied towards the requirements for the B.S. or B.A. degree.Three hours of laboratory work per week for the ten week term (fall, winter, spring or summer) are equivalent to one credit hour in CH 401. 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. Students usually register for three credit hours each term, and consequently, assume a minimum weekly time commitment of 9 hours.

If chemical research is included as part of the advanced elective for the chemistry major, at least six credit hours of CH 401 must be completed.

If biochemical research is included as part of the advanced elective for the biochemistry major, at least one year of undergraduate research and a written Biochemistry Research Report are required.

Alternatively, students may earn an hourly wage in the research laboratory by arrangement with the individual faculty member. However, academic credit and an hourly wage can not be claimed for the same time commitment.

For more information students may visit the Peer Advising Center or contact the Undergraduate Advisor, Julie Haack, or any member of the chemistry faculty.