By Burt hollanDsworth
So, you’Ve Been tHinKinG aBout under- graduate research in the chemical sciences. Maybe your favorite professor has been hounding you since fresh- man year to stay at school one summer and do some
organic synthesis. Perhaps you’re feeling anxious about the impending
professional school application process, and feel weak in the “research
Whatever the reason, considering an undergraduate research project is
a good idea. research can complete the learning process started in your
chemistry courses. for many chemists, there is no more fulfilling experience
than doing one’s part to design and implement experiments that answer a
scientific question. But before you begin the project, and before you start
even looking for an advisor, there are some important questions you may
want to ask yourself.
What kind of research is best for me?
Most research projects can be classified as either “basic” or “applied.”
Basic research is designed to answer an interesting question about nature —
for instance, “is it possible to make a 1,3-substituted pyrazole starting with
hydrazine and a diketone?” the designer may not even have an end use
for pyrazoles, but believes that finding a novel way to make them would
be an interesting undertaking that requires extensive experimentation.
applied research, on the other hand, could be described as seeking to
develop a new technology or method to be used for a specific purpose.
for example, in industry, applied research often centers on discovering
new scientific knowledge regarding the commercial application of a product, process, or service. a good example would be, “is it possible for us to