Research participation is a most important element in the Chemistry Department's undergraduate programs. Undergraduate research provides an important context for an education in chemistry while also helping to stimulate a student's interest in the discipline. The chemistry faculty does not view undergraduate participation in research as simply an adjunct to our graduate program, but rather as an integral part of the Department's entire research activity. As such, undergraduate participation in research further serves to promote a scholarly atmosphere in the Department.
Research participation is a required element in both the BS Chemistry and Biochemistry programs; however, students in the BA programs may also choose to participate in research as an elective. Typically, a student begins research during his or her junior year, although especially interested students may begin as early as the freshman year.
The research experience is carried out under the close supervision of a faculty mentor and has among its chief goals:
• The formation of the student's knowledge of chemistry
• The development of student confidence
• The development of an ability to think independently
• Successful creation of new knowledge
• Student presentation of their research at a conference
• Publication of a student's research in a scientific journal
The College of Arts and Sciences and the Chemistry Department's Development Fund (this fund depends on gifts from alumni and friends of the department) provides support for undergraduates to attend professional meetings and present their research results. In recent years, undergraduates from the SLU Chemistry Department have presented numerous talks and poster presentations at regional and national meetings of the American Chemical Society, and other national scientific meetings.
Each year, several outstanding seniors are recognized for their undergraduate research efforts through the Leopold Marcus Award Competition. This competition consists of the presentation of the results of the research projects of selected undergraduates to an audience that includes chemists form local industries and other universities in the St. Louis area. The winner of the competition is selected by a vote of the professional chemists in the audience. The award, which is administered in cooperation with the local section of the American Chemical Society, is funded by an endowment that allows a cash prize to the winner and other finalists in the competition.
The usual procedure calls for prospective research students to pick up a Mentor Request Form from the department office and talk with at least three faculty members with active laboratory research programs. After discussing research interests with the faculty, the student completes the form by indicating his or her top three choices for Mentor.