There are many ways to get involved in research; you may do research for course credit, pay, or as a volunteer. Regardless, several blocks of time (at least 4-5 hours a piece) are usually required each week to work on your research project.
Undergraduate research in Chemistry takes the form of an apprenticeship. That is, you work with an expert researcher (a faculty member) and his/her research group (a collection of graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and/or other undergraduates) on a project that you and the faculty member share an interest in. This apprenticeship will build your capacity and skill for doing research so that, after some initial success, you will be permitted a bit more flexibility and independence. You eventually work up to participating in all aspects of the research enterprise—designing work, carrying it out, and presenting it in various Departmental and University courses and forums.
The Earlier the Better! We encourage Chemistry majors to start thinking about research during their first year on campus in hopes that many will get involved during the second year. If you start early in your academic career, you will have more chances to explore different research possibilities, more opportunities to develop your scientific knowledge and laboratory skills, more opportunities to earn competitive research fellowships, awards, and experiences, and more experiences to prepare you for your future career.
Senior chemistry majors are encouraged to complete senior thesis research. (Note: this is a requirement for the B.S.Chem. degree; B.A. majors are strongly encouraged.) Although it is not required, it is often advantageous for students to have completed a few semesters of research experience (INCO 590/790) before engaging in senior thesis research; doing so ensures familiarity with the research project as well as the research laboratory, its members, and standard procedures.
CHEM 799: Senior Thesis (4 credits/semester, 2 semesters). Students enroll in 2 sequential semesters of CHEM 799, for a total of 8 credits. This is recognized as a writing intensive course.
To enroll in CHEM 799, you must first find a research mentor who will sponsor you in his/her lab for the academic year. Both the professor and student should agree on a research plan. Students should then see Ms. Cindi Rohwer in Parsons W115, who will provide registration information.
Research Awards, Fellowships, and Programs
There are plenty of opportunities to earn money for doing research during the academic year and in the summer. Two of these are offered by UNH’s Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research, the Undergraduate Research Award and the Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship.
Undergraduate Research Awards (URAs)
These are awarded competitively to students who wish to conduct research during the academic year (including January term), or in the summer. The awards range up to $1000 stipend per project, with an additional $600 available for research expenses. Applications are due in early October for the following January/Spring and early March for the following summer/Fall.
Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURFs)
These are awarded competitively to students who wish to conduct summer research on campus for 10 weeks. The program offers a $3500 stipend as well as up to $600 to support research expenses. Applications are due at the beginning of March for the following summer.
Research Opportunities Away from UNH
There are many opportunities for students to pursue research away from the UNH campus. For example, experienced undergraduate researchers will be competitive for spots at National Science Foundation-funded summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs). REUs occur all over the United States and each site has a different research focus. For example, Duke University in Durham, North Carolina is the site for Chemistry and Applications of Smart Molecules and Materials while Princeton University is the site for Molecular Biophysics.
Sometimes, research opportunities away from UNH (either domestic or international) are far less formal than the programs listed above. The UNH Chemistry faculty have collaborators and contacts at universities and state/industrial labs all over the globe who could potentially sponsor you for a research experience or internship. Talk to your academic adviser or research mentor to see what opportunities might be available.