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Undergraduate Research

Performing research as an undergraduate is highly recommended by the department. This hands-on experience will not only increase the student's understanding of their coursework, but will also benefit them when they seek employment or continued education. Research provides them with experience and skills that employers desire. Also, having done research will aid them should they decide to apply to graduate school.

Students interested in gaining research experience should simply look at the webpages for faculty in our department (and related departments if applicable, such as Microbiology, Zoology, Chemical Engineering, Environmental Science, or Physics). The faculty webpages should have descriptions of their current research projects. Students should make a list of faculty performing research that they find interesting, and then contact the faculty to ask about possible openings in their labs. There is no formal application process. Students performing research in our department can receive academic credit by enrolling in Chem 3990 or Chem 4990 (Honors college students should enroll in Chem 3980 to receive honors research credit).

Other local options include checking with the OU Health Sciences Center and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation for openings. Note that it is can be difficult to receive academic credit for off-campus research. However, students performing research at OUHSC can contact the Norman campus enrollment services office to get assistance enrolling in the OUHSC courses BMSC 4990, 3980, or 3960. This credit can then be transferred back to the Norman campus.

Students may also take part in one of the many Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) programs offered at schools all around the country. SURE announcements are emailed to our undergraduates in the advising email newsletter. 

Students enrolling in CHEM 4913, Senior Thesis, must complete two to three semesters of research (10-25 hours per week) before enrolling in CHEM 4913. Research hours may be completed by enrolling in CHEM 3960 (Honors Reading), 3980 (Honors Research), 3990 (Independent Study, S/U grade) or 4990 (Independent Study, letter grade).

Student analyzing a sample

We know from our own personal experiences and from observing graduating class after class of undergraduates that students who participate in faculty-mentored undergraduate research are much more likely to have successful careers in a STEM field or in professional health related areas. Thus, we are committed to providing our students with these opportunities.

We have partnered with the Honors College to offer a First Year Research Experience (FYRE). In Spring 2015 we had about 70 participants in this program with about half doing 10-12 hours per week of research in Chemistry/Biochemistry faculty labs. Many of these students continue with research in the following years. Participation in FYRE is not required to join a research team. Many students join a research lab during their sophomore or junior years and complete a senior thesis. Many of our undergraduate researchers receive undergraduate Research funding awards, present posters at the campus-wide Undergraduate Research Day each spring, travel to scientific conferences and see their research work published.