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Undergraduate Research (CHM 4400)

For undergraduate students, involvement in research is excellent preparation for graduate school, medical and other health-related schools, and careers in industry. The great majority of chemistry majors spend multiple semesters in a research group, and are often featured as co-authors in publications resulting from their work. Remember, you need not be a chemistry major to participate in undergraduate research in the Department of Chemistry.


The Twelfth Annual Student Research Celebration will be Monday, Nov. 4th, 2013.


Joining a Research Group

Choosing a research director follows a certain protocol, which is spelled out on the application form (available around the 10th week of the semester). You must interview at least four faculty members — one from each of the four groups specified on the application. You are encouraged to speak to additional faculty, especially if you feel this will enable you to make a more informed decision as to which group you'd like to join. For an overview of the faculty research areas, see the faculty research interests page.


General Expectations

For each semester hour of CHM 4400 in which they are enrolled, students spend an average of four to five hours per week in the lab.

Each semester, research advisors give each of their students enrolled in CHM 4400 a course syllabus with clearly defined expectations regarding grading and safety policies. Grades are assigned using the following general template — the Three P's:

  • Productivity — the extent to which the time requirement (4-5 hours per week) was met.
  • Professionalism — this includes showing awareness of safety, participating in group meetings, showing initiative and independence, etc.
  • Paper — the formal written report summarizing the semester's progress.

Each of the above areas are given a weighting of approximately 30 percent, which gives advisers flexibility in distributing the weightings.


The Written Report

The written reports follow the general guidelines shown below:

  • Student and instructor names/semester/year.
  • Title of report.
  • Purpose — what you were trying to do.
  • Background — why you were trying to do it.
  • Results and discussion — what really happened.>
  • Conclusions — what it all means and whether or not the goal was achieved.
  • Recommendations — what to do next.
  • References — following the ACS Style Guide or another appropriate format.

Depending on the group, students may turn in a draft of the report to the research director in sufficient time to be corrected/commented on, returned to the student, and a final copy submitted before the end of finals week (or other appropriate deadline).</p