Chemistry majors can begin independent research as early as their freshman year. Experience in a research laboratory is now considered a vital part of any course of studies within the sciences. The Chemistry Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst recognizes the importance of this research experience and offers numerous ways for students to participate in faculty mentored research. We advise Chemistry majors to become involved in research as soon as their course of studies allows. Generally, this means finding a research advisor and beginning a project by second semester of the sophomore year or first semester junior year, but some faculty eagerly accept freshmen into their research groups.
Summary of Registration Procedure:
- Identify your areas of interest and possible faculty mentors. Use the list of Chemistry Faculty to get a general sense of faculty research areas.
- Review Current Research Opportunities in Chemistry. For additional guidance, make an appointment with the Undergraduate Research Coordinator to identify possible research groups. Chemistry majors are permitted to do Independent Research in labs outside of the chemistry department pending approval of the Undergraduate Research Coordinator.
- Contact the faculty mentor. Tips on reaching out to faculty. Several mentors should be identified because you may not be able to join your first choice.
- Meet with the faculty mentor. How to prepare for meeting potential faculty mentor.
- Enroll in the course by submitting the online Independent Research Form.
Laboratory safety certification is required prior to enrollment.
It is imperative that you plan ahead and arrange to take research-based courses the semester before you plan to begin research.
Both Bachelor of Science (BS) and Bachelor of Arts (BA) chemistry majors have the opportunity to be involved in a wide range of research projects in federally funded University labs. Independent Study 396 or 496 credits (earned during their junior and senior year) satisfy Group B requirements toward the required 12 credits of advanced electives for BS majors. BA majors can take Independent Study (388, 499Y/T, 396 or 496) to satisfy Group A requirements toward the required 9 credits of advanced electives.
Students pursuing the Bachelor of Science in Chemistry are required to take Chemistry 388 Independent Research Project (3 cr) or if they are members of the Commonwealth College may instead enroll in Chemistry 499Y and 499T Honors Thesis (3cr. each). The research project may consist of laboratory work or theoretical work or both. Project and research director selected by student with consent of instructor and departmental Undergraduate Research Coordinator required. About 8-10 hours of independent work per week, in close consultation with research director, culminating in written and oral reports. A copy of the written report must be included in the student's academic folder. The recommended timing for 388 is second semester junior year or senior year. Chemistry 499Y is typically taken fall senior year and 499T is taken the spring semester.
Students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry are not required to take indepedent research courses; unless they are members of CHC in which case they may have to fulfill the Honors Thesis requirement (Chem. 499Y and 499T).