Research is the ability to perform an independent project with a faculty mentor on some aspect of chemistry either through a literature assessment or laboratory experiments to gain excellent hands-on experience. Many alumni have reported that some of their best experiences were through participation in a chemistry research experience! The Department of Chemistry offers courses where this experience can count for upper division course credit for their degree, as electives, or can also be applied for the Applied Critical and Creative Thinking (ACCT) University Requirement. In addition, students can be paid if they are working on a grant funded project. Oftentimes, students travel with the department to present their work at local, national, and international conferences. Several of our students have placed in local and regional poster competitions.
Specific Chemistry Research Courses Offered
The Department of Chemistry offers three different courses for students interested in performing independent research projects involving chemistry or forensic science. These courses only exist when a student completes the necessary steps (see Getting Started).
CHE 200: Volunteering in Chemistry (0)
An exposure to chemistry outreach activities, including, but not limited to exploring chemical research projects*, organizing chemistry community service, and assisting other chemistry departmental events. Students can choose the focus of the volunteering in each semester. Passing grade achieved for attending 80% of the designated activities in each semester.
CHE 495A: Independent Chemical Research (1)
Prerequisite: CHE 112 and departmental approval. An introduction to research in all fields of chemistry. Literature based assigned research project with a faculty mentor that will require a formal research report. May be retaken to a maximum of three hours. Student must have the independent study proposal form approved by faculty mentor and departmental chair prior to enrollment. 3 Lab (A credit hour of research would be the same as three contact hours a week)
CHE 495B: Chemistry Lab Research (1-3)
Prerequisites: CHE 112 and departmental approval. Objectives and techniques of chemical research addressing many problems in all fields of chemistry. May be retaken to a maximum of nine hours. Student must have the independent study proposal form approved by faculty supervisor and departmental chair prior to enrollment. 3 – 9 Lab (A credit hour of research would be the same as three contact hours a week)
FOR 490: Introduction to Research (1‑3)
Prerequisite: FOR 411 or departmental approval. Instruction to laboratory research in one of the areas of forensic science. May be retaken to a maximum of six hours, but only three hours may be counted toward the major requirements. Student must have the independent study proposal form approved by faculty supervisor and department chair prior to enrollment. 3 – 9 Lab (A credit hour of research would be the same as three contact hours a week)
HON 420: Honors Thesis Project (3-6)
(fall and spring) Another option for Honors Students is to perform a chemistry research project for their Honors Thesis Project. For more information, visit the Honors Thesis Information page and talk to one of our chemistry faculty about your ideas.
The process begins with the student finding a faculty mentor that has available projects or can help with the development of a new project. Students are welcome to speak with any chemistry faculty member about possible research opportunities currently on the EKU campus. Each faculty in the department is listed on the Department Directory and information about their research can also be found on the EKU Chemistry Research page. Once the faculty mentor and a project has been chosen, a one-page summary for the proposed project needs to be written and submitted along with an Independent Study Proposal Form for one of the mentioned courses (CHE 495A, CHE 495B, or FOR 490). Typically, this form should be filled out just before or during the first week of an academic semester. On the form, a faculty mentor and course coordinator must be identified and sign the form (under the lines for Faculty Supervisor). While the faculty mentor is selected by the student, the course coordinator for all the chemistry research courses is assigned every semester.
The faculty mentor should pay careful attention to the proposed project summary that accompanies the Independent Study Proposal Form, focusing on whether the proposal is scholarly, creative, and realistic. The student and mentor should also carefully consider and agree upon the relative timeline to reach milestones of the project and have set meetings to discuss data/progress with the project. The student and mentor should work on the project in a manner that best suits the pair.
Once registered for the specific course, the student will complete the project according to the proposed project summary. A research report must be filed at the end of each semester that you are enrolled in CHE 495A, CHE 495B, or FOR 490 to receive a grade. A set of guidelines is available for students to prepare the report (download Guidelines for Preparing a Research Report). If one is planning to continue your project for another semester, a report for the initial semester is necessary and should be considered a progress report. Assessment of the Research Report is available (see Grading the Research Report).
Grading the Research Report
The grade for the chemistry research courses will be based on assessment from the faculty mentor (75%) and an assigned course coordinator (25%) based on developed rubrics. The course coordinator for all chemistry research courses is assigned every semester. Progress reports that are developed during a project will also be assessed and part of the final grade for the course.
Grades will not be assigned until after the final research report for the project is completed and graded. Since time is necessary for the faculty mentor and course coordinator to review the final report, a final due date for the report needs to be established (typically, the second or last week of classes, not finals week). Mentors must submit their evaluation forms to the course coordinator who will complete their assignment so a final overall grade can be recorded.
Copies of the assessment forms, expectations for the progress reports, and final report can be found below.