Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research provides in-depth exposure to the frontiers of chemistry and the culture of scientific research. Undergraduates interested in pursuing a career in chemistry or biochemistry are encouraged to seek out opportunities as freshman or sophomores to participate in the world-class research programs supervised by the Chemistry department faculty. The department offers diverse opportunities for scientific investigation within the areas of organic, biological, physical, or inorganic chemistry. In addition, many research programs are interdisciplinary and involve techniques and principles related to different areas of chemistry.

Students interested in becoming involved in a research project should contact individual faculty about the possibility of a position in their research group. This process should be initiated several months in advance of the planned starting date.

Research for credit

During the academic year, there are several options for BC undergraduates to earn academic credit for research. The Chemistry Department offers three main research courses:

  • CHEM4491-4492 Introduction to Undergraduate Research I-II
    for juniors who have shown exceptional ability

  • CHEM5591-5592 Undergraduate Chemical Research I-II
    for senior chemistry majors

  • CHEM5593-5594 Undergraduate Biochemical Research I-II
    for senior biochemistry majors

Students who enroll in one of these research courses must obtain permission from a faculty research advisor and must complete a Research Course Contract. Both the student and professor sign the contract and submit it to the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Students who would like to write a thesis during their senior year can register for CHEM6601-6602 Senior Thesis Research in Chemistry I-II with the permission of their advisor. Students enrolling in this course must submit a proposal that is reviewed by the Undergraduate Studies Committee.

There is also the option of doing research through the Scholar of the College program during senior year, CHEM5595-5596, Advanced Research in Chemistry I-II, or through the College Honors Program. See the BC catalog for more details.

Research for pay

Some students opt for doing research as part of the work/study program, both during the academic year and the summer. If you qualify for work/study funds and are planning to engage in research within the department, discuss the possibility of getting paid through the work/study program with your faculty advisor. During the summer months, stipends for a number of students are paid from research grants or via a shared arrangement with the work/study program. See your faculty research advisor and get your plans set well in advance.

Research off-campus

If a student finds a research opportunity off-campus during the academic year and would like to learn academic credit for the work, a description of the project must be submitted to the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Students can consider taking part in a research project at another university during the summer. The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program that provides students with the opportunity to carry out research at participating institutions. A current listing of the participating REU sites can be obtained from the NSF website. The application deadlines for the REU program are in February and March.