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CSTEM College of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics

Student Research

Student Research Process

1. Investigate the type of research you would like to do. See Getting Started for more detail.

2. Register for the appropriate course using the Independent Research Course Registration form.

3. Arrange with your mentor to work on the project for 3 hours per unit. For example, 2 units of Chem 499 involves 5.5-6 hours per week of lab work, while a 1 unit Chem 399 requires about 3 hours per week of lab work.

4. At the conclusion of the semester (other than your final semester of research), write a 1-2 page summary of your work and submit to your research mentor by the final day of classes. Make sure to discuss specific requirements with your research mentor. This is a good time to write several introductory paragraphs for your final paper.

Four your first semester of Chem 498 or 499, expect a grade of RP (Regular Progress) rather than a letter grade. If there is a reason that you need a letter grade entered, e.g. some forms of financial aid, discuss this with your research mentor.

Wrapping Up Your Research

Training students in the art of chemical research is one of the most fulfilling parts of our job as faculty, so we are eager to see what skills you develop and refine as a result of your research project.

5 weeks into your final semester (roughly October 1 or March 1), discuss the timing and title of your research presentation with your mentor. 

The Research Presentation

By 10 weeks into your final semester of research, you should have an outline of your presentation. The presentation should be 15-20 minutes long. Remember to expect a few questions from fellow students and Faculty.

Alternatives to the end of year presentation

If you are fortunate enough to be able to give a talk at a regional or national conference where at least 2 Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty attend, this can be counted as your final research presentation. If you would like to do this, or you have an idea for another form of presentation, discuss this with your mentor well ahead of any deadlines. (Posters are not typically sufficient, but may be encouraged as substitutes for an oral presentation in some cases).

Presentations at professional meetings are valuable ways to hone your presentation skills, and to get exposure to potential employers and/or graduate schools. These presentations go on your resume, and they can help distinguish you from other candidates. If you have this opportunity, take it!

The Research or Library Thesis

At the conclusion of your research, you must submit a thesis, typically 10-50 pages in length. The paper will generally include an introduction, details on the methods used, results, and a conclusion (which should discuss the type of research done and if there is evidence for further investigation). Specific requirements for your thesis will vary by research mentor, so be sure to discuss these requirements early in your final semester.