Finally, complete some safety training before starting any
undergraduate research project. Hopefully, your institution has
a standard safety course required for all research students. If
not, ask your advisor to dedicate some time to providing on-site
safety training in the chemicals and methods used in their projects. Keep a record of any such safety training on file. This type of
training will ensure that you are up to speed on all the hazards
associated with your chemicals and equipment, and that you can
mitigate them safely.
Who is going to pay me to do research?
This is one of the most important questions you might ask
about undergraduate research. First, ask your department chair
about grants from your institution. Some departments earmark
funds from donors to pay for undergraduates to do research on
campus. Your advisor or department chair may also be able to
arrange for free housing for you if you stay over the summer to
Keep an eye out for competitive campus-wide, non-discipline-specific calls for research proposals. Your faculty advisor might be able to help you identify and write proposals for
these types of programs. At larger schools, or at undergraduate
institutions with very active research programs, some faculty
may have external research grants that they can use for undergraduate research stipends. Last but not least, check with your
department chair for a list of faculty with external funding or
submitted research proposals.
If you are willing to travel, there are many institutions
that actively seek funding for undergraduate research. Go
to www.acs.org/GetExperience for a guide to undergraduate research that includes a listing of undergraduate research
opportunities and International Research Experiences for
Undergraduates (IREUs). You will find information on a variety
of locations where undergraduate research funding is provided
on a competitive basis.
Finally, do not be afraid to seek out and complete a good
undergraduate research project. You will find that research provides a sense of accomplishment that is very different from even
outstanding achievement in the classroom. You will develop the
ability to plan experiments and apply your chemical knowledge
to real scientific situations. Undergraduate research projects will
do more than pad your résumé; they will provide you with some
of the most memorable and meaningful experiences of your
Burt Hollandsworth is a graduate of The Ohio State
University, receiving his Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry.
He is an associate professor at Harding University in
“ Keep an eye out for competitive, campus-wide, non-discipline-specific calls
for research proposals.”