Undergraduate Research

An important component of the undergraduate education in Chemistry is the opportunity for students to engage with a real-world research environment and carry out an undergraduate research under the guidance of a member of the faculty in Chemistry.

To participate in the undergraduate research program, students must first meet a high level of academic competency. Students then meet prospective researchers in the Department to find the research project that is right for them. Doing undergraduate research allows for students to further develop analytical and critical thinking ability as well as presentation skills. Completing hands-on independent research is important to not only for present program studies of our students but also for their future career development. Students are strongly encouraged to present their results at the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium organized by the Department. The Symposium is normally held in early October.

Below, interested students can see the steps on how to find a lab, and what resources are available for them.

Finding a lab to do research is easy

Step 1 – Look at the Faculty page at the Department website to quickly identify a research area(s) of your interest and/or talk to your instructor when you happen to take a chemistry courses about doing research

Step 2 – Check out the research section at the Department website as well as individual faculty websites

Step 3 – Prepare your CV or resume

Step 4 – Make an appointment and meet a faculty member to discuss possible topics of undergraduate research

Step 5 – Join a research group and start doing your research……

Frequently Asked Questions about Undergraduate Research:

Q: Is there a course I must take before I can get involved with research? A: No, there is no specific course prerequisites for research. However, individual advisors may be looking for specific skillsets, you won’t know until you ask!

Q: Must I be a chemistry major to do research with a chemistry faculty?? A: No! Students of all majors are welcome to do research in our department.

Q: Do I have to be a junior/senior before I can get involved with research? A: No! Many sophomores and even some well-prepared freshmen have gotten involved with research, and this enabled them to be involved with sophisticated, cutting-edge research by the time they graduated.

Q: What qualifications do I need to get involved in research? A: Professors in all fields are always looking for enthusiasm, willingness to learn, determination, and thoughtfulness among students interested in joining their lab.

• If you are NOT excited about the science, professors will likely NOT be excited to take you into their lab.
• You will likely be supervised by a graduate student or post-doc who will teach you the tools of the trade.
Respect their time by being an attentive and proactive learner!
• If you cannot devote a substantial amount of time and effort to your research, you are unlikely to get much from the experience.
• Be a good “lab citizen”: Be on time for lab meetings. Clean up after yourself. If you do are not sure about rules and procedures of the lab, ask someone, don’t risk causing an accident! Help pass on what you learn to newer students. Pitch in for shared lab duties...You get the idea!

Chemistry Awards for Undergraduate Students

Excellent undergraduate students are also encouraged to compete for the following Chemistry Awards. These awards have been established and supported generously by our faculty, alumni and family and friends.

  • Shelton Bank Prize for Excellence in Chemistry ($1,000). This award is to recognize and support an undergraduate with distinction, preferably junior, who is engaging in research with a member of the faculty in Chemistry.
  • Chemistry Faculty Award ($200). This award is given to a graduating chemistry major for demonstrated high scholastic standing, good character and potential for advancement in the chemical profession.
  • Derk V. Tieszen Award ($200). This award goes to a Chemistry senior on the basis of demonstrated achievement in chemistry, physics, and mathematics plus potential as a research worker and teacher of chemistry at an advanced level.
  • Bazzoni Award ($1,000). The Bazzoni Fellowship is presented annually to an undergraduate re-searcher in the natural sciences. Nominees must demonstrate evidence of motivation or interest in his or her field of study that clearly goes beyond mere coursework.
  • Chemistry Scholar – General Chemistry ($2,000). This award is to support an undergraduate majoring Chemistry in his/her study of General Chemistry with an outstanding academic record.
  • Chemistry Scholar – Organic Chemistry award ($2,000). This award is given to a full-time under-graduate majoring in Chemistry who is completing Organic Chemistry II with an outstanding academic record.
  • Dr. Herbert S. and Mrs. Inez W. Bailey ’36 Scholar-ship ($1,000). This honor recognizes an under-graduate with high achievement in several disciplines in the natural sciences and mathematics.
  • Presidential Undergraduate Research Award ($100). This honor recognizes high quality under-graduate research and scholarship.

Testimony from One of Our Students

My undergraduate research experience at the University at Albany began in the second semester of sophomore year. At that point I really enjoyed my general and organic chemistry labs and I thought that it might be fun to work in a research lab so that I would have the opportunity to improve my experimental skills. I looked up research opportunities on the Department of Chemistry website and found a professor (Prof. Petrukhina) in an area I was interested in, inorganic chemistry. Prof. Petrukhina taught me the techniques and skills needed to work in the lab while I worked closely with a graduate student in her lab. Read More