Skip to Main Content

Our American Chemistry Society-certified BS in Chemistry requires the student to take at least 3 semester credits of CHM 4910L, completing an undergraduate research project in chemistry under the direction of a research faculty member.

Undergraduate research provides you the opportunity to be an active contributor to the body of knowledge in chemistry and/or biochemistry. You will work directly with one of the research groups in the department. At the conclusion of the research project, you will be expected to author a report, written in the style and format of a research publication in an ACS peer-reviewed journal.

It is quite possible the results of your efforts will become a component of a presentation at a major national or international scientific meeting and/or a publication in a peer-reviewed journal. This might be as a co-author or in some instances even as the first author of a poster, oral presentation or publication. Each year, a number of our undergraduate students travel to the meetings of the American Chemical Society or another major scientific meeting where they present their work to other scientists in the discipline.

It is expected that each student will need to spend between 15-20 hours per week working in the laboratory and become an active member of their chosen research group. This includes attending group meetings and other activities. Fulfillment of undergraduate research project and achievement of a passing grade in CHM 4910L typically encompasses several semesters of involvement with a project. It is rare that a student can complete this requirement in less than two semesters. We encourage all Bs in Chemistry and BS in Biochemistry students to begin thinking about the selection of a research mentor no later than the conclusion of CHM 2211 Organic Chemistry II.

Preparation

Each student is required to undergo safety training in order to work in a chemistry laboratory. All students are required to complete the "core training" series. Additionally, most students will also be required to take the "Chemical Safety Training" series. Depending on the research area, other courses may be required. These will be made clear once you have joined a research group. Safety trainings are found via the Department of Environmental Health and Safety.

The core training must be completed before students begin working in any lab. Once this training has been completed, students are required to print out the certificate and provide copies for both the major professor and the lab manager

Prior to beginning work in the laboratory, students should also review the material from their courses and elsewhere which might be useful for the particular area in research they have chosen. Students should ask their prospective group members what material would be most useful to review.

Familiarity with search engines, such as the Science Citation Index, SciFinder Scholar and other sources available at the library, may be most useful. Visit the FIU Libraries Chemistry & Biochemistry page and click on "Databases" for a list.

Research Groups

Listed in Expertise are the various research groups that are working with undergraduate chemistry students in the department.

To help students choose an area of research, there are several opportunities they may be able to take advantage of to learn more about the projects being carried out. Some of these are:

  • Graduate Visitation Day: Prospective graduate students visit the department. Faculty present their research.
  • Undergraduate Seminar: As part of the requirement for graduation, the capstone course is CHM 4930. During this class, senior graduate students present a seminar. Students who have carried out undergraduate research may present their research findings as well.
  • Weekly Departmental Seminars
  • Undergraduate Research Forum
  • Graduate Student Orientation
  • MBRS-RISE Symposium


Students should contact a group and express an interest in working with them. They can begin the conversation by writing the major professor or other contact a formal email with an introduction, interest in research and asking for more information about possible research projects available in their group, or possibly arranging to have a meeting. Alternatively, the professor might ask students to attend their group meetings so students can determine if they are really interested in working with the group.

Remember that a research project is not usually completed over one semester. This process should be begun at least one semester prior to enrollment into the CHM 4910L course. Students will then be expected to work with the group for one year after that.

Courses

CHM 4910L Undergraduate Research in Chemistry (3): The student works directly with a professor on a research project. Credit is assigned based on 4 hr/wk laboratory/library work per credit hour. A written report is required. Report must be submitted to the Undergraduate Research Committee for approval. For additional credits of undergraduate research student must register for CHM 4911L.

CHM 4911L Undergraduate Research 2 (1-20): Faculty-directed research in chemistry. Credit is assigned based on 4 hours/week laboratory/library work per credit hour. May be repeated. Prerequisite: CHM 4910L.

Guidance

Students are starting their undergraduate research and want to ensure they get the most benefit out of the experience as they can. Each lab and each PI (Principal Investigator- a term that refers to your research advisor) has their own unique character, each lab addresses different questions, and each PI will have different expectations.

The importance of research is not in the grade students receive; it is in the experience they gain. A lot of learning occurs when undergraduate students do research; learning that is different from that obtained via normal coursework. Research will give students a better understanding for the discipline of chemistry or biochemistry. Many students learn how they want to focus their efforts after their first research experience. The more the student is challenged, the more accomplished they will feel at the completion of their experience.

For more guidance, visit the American Chemical Society Undergraduate Chemistry Students page.