Undergraduate Research

Why Research Matters

Research brings students into contact with a variety of chemical literature, fosters a spirit of independence and inquiry, builds familiarity with complex instruments and technologies and helps develop sound judgment. Many students make connections in the lab that turn into professional opportunities and careers down the road.

Students majoring in American Chemical Society (ACS)-certified degrees must complete a minimum research requirement, but we strongly encourage all undergraduates to pursue lab opportunities as early as first year.

 

GW Chemistry student wearing goggles and gloves in a lab

 

 


Jacqueline Dyer

Jacqueline Dyer

BS ’18, Presenter at the 2017 American Society for Mass Spectrometry Conference

"Undergraduate research is a great opportunity to bridge the gap between classroom learning and the 'real world'."


Get Involved

  • Talk to your faculty advisor or appropriate graduate students about your research interests and the potential openings, projects and requirements. Laying the groundwork early will ensure a good fit.
  • Explore the website or our department newsletter to learn about the research projects faculty members are currently engaged in.
  • Talk to fellow undergraduates who are doing research to get a feel for what your day-to-day experience will be like in a research lab.
  • Sign up to perform research as a volunteer or intern.
  • Find a paid position with a faculty member.
  • Enroll in research for credit (CHEM 4195 or 4195W) — required for majors pursuing ACS-certified degrees in chemistry or biochemistry.
  • Apply for a summer research program as a rising junior or senior. Students earn a stipend to work under the chemistry faculty member of their choice.

For further guidance, contact your advisor or a member of our staff.

 

Visit the Center for Undergraduate Fellowships and Research

 


Research Course Requirements

An undergraduate research course, CHEM 4195 or 4195W, is required for certain majors. We recommend that students take the course for at least three credits over two semesters. The first semester (one credit) provides a transition into the research group and introduction to the methodology. In the second semester (two credits) students dive deeper into the project. The more time (and credits) spent on the research, the more useful the data will be.

The course culminates with a paper describing the methods and results of the project. The final paper should be a well written, comprehensive and properly documented report, regardless of the success of the research. Students are expected to deliver a final paper presentation.

 


Undergraduate Research in Action

Students in Massiah lab

Finding Solutions to Birth Defects

Undergraduate students on Michael Massiah’s research team investigate human health problems. The group has studied the MID1 protein, which when mutated can cause cleft palate and defects with the craniofacial and genital areas. Their research has also illuminated MID1’s role in breast and ovarian cancers and Huntington’s Disease. Massiah’s work has been published in Nature Research’s Scientific Reports.

 

Florescent turtle painting

Chemistry Lab Doubles as an Art Studio

During downtime between experiments studying cancer drugs and diabetes treatments, undergraduate and graduate students inĀ Assistant Professor of Chemistry Erik Rodriguez's lab create works of art in petri dishes. In this image, Escherichia coli that express enhanced Cyan Fluorescent Protein glow green and blue, while those expressing mTangerine glow purple and red.