College of Arts and Sciences

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate Research can begin as early as your freshman year. Students that begin undergraduate research before their senior year are likely eligible for the Distinction in Undergraduate Chemistry Research Program, which recognizes outstanding accomplishments in undergraduate research. These activities are funded by entrepreneurial activities of the faculty and alumni donations. Most of our faculty are actively involved with our undergraduate majors as both classroom and research teachers.

During the past several years, numerous presentations have been made by undergraduates at national and regional meetings of the American Chemical Society, the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Tennessee Academy of Sciences. Regional and national meetings take place in cities like Orlando, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, San Francisco, San Diego, and Anaheim, to name a few. Significant funding for their expenses has been provided by the University.

Two emeritus faculty members from the Chemistry Department have created an endowment award called the Swindell/Jackson Award, which provides summer pay for undergraduate research.

The department has also created a Student Research Grant competition that allows both undergraduates and graduate students to write and submit a research proposal, fund their research project, and write a final report. Those students that successfully complete the requirements of the award are often selected for a Student Research Award which is presented at our annual spring banquet. 

The Eugene A. Kline and Ruth A. Kline Undergraduate Chemistry Endowment is another award that supports basic research in order to help students develop essential skills in better preparing for a variety of careers.

How do I begin?

  1. Read this website and select a few professors who are involved in research that matches your interests. Explore the faculty website and read about their background and their research.
  2. Send faculty an email and ask for a meeting to discuss their research and options for working with them.
  3. Select a research professor who has indicated they are interested in you joining their group and inform them of your decision.
  4. Discuss your research options and scheduling needs with the professor.

Why should I begin research as an undergraduate?

It is becoming increasingly more important for you to carry out undergraduate research. Entrance into many graduate and professional schools expects you to have some form of undergraduate capstone research experience. Many reasons for conducting undergraduate research include:

  • Academic credit1
  • Professional development
  • Refined career development
  • The potential for publications in referred journals
  • Travel to professional meetings to present research results
  • Further development of critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills
  • Exposure to laboratory techniques, instrumentation and scientific literature
  • Development of communication skills
  • For the fun of it!

1For academic credit, students can register for CHEM 4991, 4992 or 4993 for 1, 2 or 3 hrs credit, respectively. Each credit hour is a three-hour weekly commitment to working on a project in a chemistry faculty research mentors laboratory – prior mentor approval required (see your mentor, or go to the Chemistry office for the required form). For any chemistry degree (including Biochemistry), only a total of 4 hrs can count towards your degree, however, more than four hours can be taken for academic credit. This form should be completed in advance of the last day to register for classes.

What options are available?

  1. On-site research during the academic year and/or summer with a TTU faculty research mentor.
  2. Off-site research at Amgen Scholars Program.
  3. Off-site research at a National Laboratory .
  4. Off-site research at one of many summer NSF-REU programs (Research Experiences for Undergraduates).
  5. Off-site research at ASBMB Listing of Research Opportunities.