Research Experiences in Chemistry
Why Should I Consider Gaining Research Experience?
Chemistry majors learn critical concepts of Chemistry by taking the lecture and laboratory courses offered by the Berry College Chemistry Department. However, gaining experience working in a research lab allows students to gain an appreciation of how chemistry is performed in the real world, whether it be in a graduate level academic lab or in an industrial lab. You will find that real research experiences in a working lab are quite different than the experiences you may have had in a teaching laboratory course. You will learn how original research is carried out, gain experience on research-level chemical instrumentation, and observe how the seemingly "esoteric" concepts learned in lecture courses are applied to real-life, practical, chemical research.
Productive research students are often able to have their research published in national and international Chemistry journals, and are able to attend professional conferences with their faculty mentor to present their research findings.
How Do I Get Started in Research?
Start by identifying which faculty member is doing research that interests you. Take a look HERE to see a description of faculty research interests and recent publications. Also, feel free to email them or make an appointment to meet with them to ask more questions about their research projects.
When you have found one or more faculty members in which you are interested, fill out an Research Application Form below (note: this form is only active during times in which applications are accepted. See below for more information). The application process is meant to facilitate the best match of an undergraduate researcher to a faculty mentor, which depends on several factors such as the availability of space in each faculty member's lab. The application cycle starts the semester before the research project will begin. Before you apply, make sure you will have allowed for at least a 3 hour continuous block of time in your weekly schedule to dedicate to research.
For research starting in Spring 2014, the Research Application Form will be active from October 7th - October 18th. Applications will close on October 18th. You will be notified if you have been matched to a faculty mentor before registration so that you can plan your schedule accordingly. If you have any questions about the process, please direct them to Dr. Davis.
Click on the Research Application Form Below to Apply for a Research Position!
Do Research Experiences Provide Academic Credit? Can I Perform Research as Part of the Student Work Program?
The simple answer is yes, to both questions!
Academic credit is made possible by enrolling in either Directed Study (CHM 498) or Senior Thesis (CHM 451). Generally, 3 hours of research per week for a semester translates into 1 credit hour. Students generally sign up for 1-3 credit hours per semester (3-9 hour commitment per week). For CHM 498, a maximum of 4 credit hours can be applied towards a chemistry major or minor. The number of credit hours are agreed upon by the faculty research mentor and the student prior to enrollment. The Senior Thesis course is specified as a 2 credit hour course requiring 6 hours of research time per semester. In both cases, the specific times that the student will be present to perform the research each week is worked out between the student and the faculty research mentor.
Students are also able to work on research projects as part of the Student Work Program. This must be agreed upon by both the faculty member and the student. The work level is determined by the amount of research experience gained by the student, but generally increases from year to year.
Am I Required to Gain Research Experience?
Chemistry majors at Berry are not required to gain research experience. However, traditionally ~70% of our majors do have one or more semesters of research experience (either at Berry or via summer research off campus) before they graduate. Research experience will make you more competitive whether applying for jobs after graduating or applying to graduate school programs.
Are Research Opportunities Available at Other Institutions or Over the Summer?
Students can apply for summer research opportunities at other institutions through the National Science Foundations Research Experiences for Undergraduates (the NSF REU program). Each year available programs across the country (and some international as well) are advertised at the NSF site HERE.
The NSF site also advertises opportunities for Co-OP and Internship opportunities HERE.
Some faculty also take student researchers over the summer session via the student work program. If you are interested, ask your faculty research mentor about this possibility.