Research is the core activity of science. It is through research that we advance our understanding of the world around us. A research experience is the best way for students to learn about the process of science and the method by which ideas are proposed as hypotheses, tested by experimentation, and proven through reproducible experimentation. Experience in research is an outstanding educational experience for students as they proceed through their education in chemistry or biochemistry.
The purpose of undergraduate research in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is to provide an enriching and rewarding experience to students who wish to pursue chemistry beyond the constraints imposed by formal course work. The program involves research under the direction of one of the faculty members on a project agreed upon by the faculty member and student. Although the project is likely to be well-outlined by the faculty supervisor, the student is expected to learn how to work independently and to provide the self-motivation necessary to make a significant contribution to the research project. The student should obtain a sense of accomplishment in the performance of original work and will observe first hand the design and execution of professional projects in chemistry. Undergraduate research is particularly valuable for students who plan to go on to graduate school or who are looking for research or problem solving positions in industry.
Undergraduate research experiences almost always lead to presentations at meetings by the student and sometimes with co-authorship on scientific papers. Such experience can really give students an edge when applying to professional programs, graduate schools and to industry.
The research descriptions of faculty research interests will help undergraduates identify possible areas of research. Undergraduate research opportunities are available in the context of Sophomore Research (CHE-291 & 292), Junior research (CHE-391 & 392) and Independent Study (CHE 491 & 492) or on a volunteer or financial support basis.
Students must make arrangements with a faculty director before registering for the above research courses. Students are encouraged to speak with individual faculty about other research opportunities.
Undergraduate research shows that students can work as a part of a team are able to communicate clearly, and have transferable laboratory skills. Students can begin research as early as the second semester of their freshman year. Many opportunities are available in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry for all science majors. These include:
1. Research for Credit
Seven research courses are available (CHE 191 Freshman Research, CHE 291 and 292 Sophomore Research, CHE 391 and 392 Junior Research and 491 and 492 Senior Research). Up to three hours of credit can be taken for each course except CHE 191 (one credit hour only). Courses are available during the whole year, including summer session. Students are expected to be in the lab for 3-4 hours per credit hour and a two-three page report is the only other requirement.
2. Research for Pay
Many of the professors in the Department have research grants that allow them to pay undergraduate students to carry out research in their laboratories. Hours and pay vary. If students are interested in this opportunity, then they should decide which professors they’d like to work with, and then ask them if they have any research opportunities in their labs. Students are advised to approach the professor in person or via email, introducing themselves and ask to arrange a meeting to discuss any research opportunities that the faculty member may have.
3. UNCG Undergraduate Research Assistantships
The University awards assistantships for undergraduate to carry out research with a faculty mentor. These can total $2,000 ($1000 per semester or summer session) for 8-10 hours research per week. Students must have a GPA of at least 2.7, have completed 30 semester hours of courses at UNCG and achieved at least sophomore status. If students are interested in this opportunity, then they should decide which professors they’d like to work with, and then ask them if they have any research opportunities in their labs. Students are advised to approach the professor in person or via email, introducing themselves and ask to arrange a meeting to discuss any research opportunities that the faculty member may have.
4. Research Degree
The new degree, BS in Chemistry with a concentration in research is an excellent opportunity to carry out over three years of undergraduate research, write an undergraduate thesis and present a research seminar. This is an outstanding opportunity for student to assemble an impressive resume with many features sure to attract the attention of graduate schools, professional schools and industry. Students completing this degree will have demonstrated all the attributes associated with undergraduate research mentioned above, but have a much more complete and extensive portfolio.
5. International Undergraduate Research Program
The Department is planning a new program of international research experiences for undergraduates. Research, especially during the summers, will be carried out in universities worldwide. Some prior undergraduate research experience will be required. A pilot program will be run during the summer of 2007 in Europe . Please contact Dr. Terry Nile for more details of this exciting opportunity.