Undergraduate research allows a student the opportunity to share in the excitement of exploratory research, to hone experimental skills, use state-of-the-art instrumentation, utilize the chemical literature, and last, but not least, learn how to approach problem solving. In short, participation in a research project can be one of the most valuable experiences in an undergraduate's career. No other course ties together so many diverse aspects of chemistry.
Visit the department's Research Projects and Faculty webpage to learn about the research interests of various chemistry department faculty members. You will immediately see how wide ranging those interests are. Do not worry if you are not familiar with some of the areas described. If a project or area sounds interesting then talk about it with the appropriate professor—invariably faculty members love to discuss their research.
We urge you to consider research participation relatively early in your undergraduate career (e.g., Junior year) so that if a project is proceeding well you will have time to obtain some concrete results. This is in the best interests of both yourself and the faculty member. In some instances completed work will be published in a research journal. As an undergraduate it is quite a feather in your cap to have a published research paper.
Be aware that research is not normally something that one can walk into and obtain useful results straightaway. It is usual for a student to take a semester to become comfortable with the techniques involved and, accordingly, you should endeavour to devote at least 2 semesters to research participation and preferably more. Similarly, it is usual to sign up for 2–3 credits of CHM 4990 (approx. 8-11 actual hours of work per week). In general, this time should be available in blocks of at least 4 hours rather than a large number of small time slots.
These are general guidelines which over the years we have found to maximize the utility of the research experience, but the main criterion is your interest. Read over the research outlines presented by the links carefully and please give serious thought to participation. You will not regret it.
For more information see Dr. David Grossie, 202 Oelman or talk directly to the faculty member who is working in the area of most interest to yourself.