One of the missions of universities such as KU is the discovery of new knowledge, with the result that many in its community of scholars–faculty and students–are engaged in research. The Department of Chemistry believes that the undergraduate education of a science major is not quite complete without actually "doing science" and strongly encourages its majors to join in the challenge and stimulation of its various research programs.
The excitement of applying classroom learning to the discovery of something new can be enormous. Further, students gain confidence, in-depth exposure to a particular area of chemistry, expertise in advanced laboratory techniques, and, of most importance, the satisfaction of making a contribution to the advancement of knowledge in molecular science. The Chemistry Department's research programs and faculty have gained worldwide recognition for being at the leading edge of scientific research.
Research activities include strong programs in the areas of bioanalytical chemistry, ultrafast spectroscopy, bio-organic chemistry, organometallic chemistry, synthesis of natural products, studies of chemiluminescence, microwave spectroscopy, theoretical chemistry and molecular modeling. In addition, interdisciplinary programs with biochemistry, pharmacy, and physics encompass such topics as neurochemistry, picosecond laser spectroscopy of biomolecules, enzyme catalysis, and theory of atomic and molecular interactions.
There are a number of opportunities for chemistry students to gain undergraduate research experience both at KU and off-campus. For a first experience, we recommend that a student glance at the list of faculty and their general research interests and then at the more detailed descriptions found in the brochure Chemistry, The Graduate Program, available in 1140 ISB. Advice may then be sought from a classroom professor, a lab instructor, or one of the Department's chemistry major advisors and/or directly from the potential research advisors of most interest.
Once a student has chosen an adviser and a research problem and settled on a weekly schedule, the work is generally carried out with the assistance of members of the research group – graduate students, postdoctoral researchers– and is under the overall supervision and advice of the faculty member. Enrollment in CHEM 450 or CHEM 698 ensures that the experience will be reflected on the transcript. The number of credit hours in which to enroll depends on the amount of time available for research. Many students continue with their research projects for several semesters.
There are many opportunities nationwide for qualified students who wish to work on a research problem during the summer. Most of the notices start appearing near the end of the fall term and early in the spring semester. Some deadlines for application are as early as February 1.