Chemistry Undergraduate Capstone Research

An impactful faculty-mentored research experience for every student

The importance of undergraduate research to student learning and long-term success cannot be overstated, particularly in highly technical disciplines like chemistry and biochemistry. Employers and graduate schools place a high value on students who have done independent research due to the acquisition of hands-on experience and intellectual independence, as well as knowledge and skills relating to critical thinking, problem solving, data collection and analysis, written and oral communication, information literacy, teamwork, ethics, and safety.

CMU is the only public university in Michigan to have compulsory capstone research experiences for both chemistry and biochemistry majors. Our capstone research program has been the cornerstone of our undergraduate programs for over 50 years—since CMU's Department of Chemistry was founded in 1964. In that time span, hundreds students in have completed research projects and undergraduate theses. Many of these projects culminated in peer-reviewed publications and presentations at national scientific meetings, and many more propelled students into jobs and graduate schools while building a foundation for life-long success.

For more general information about undergraduate chemistry research, see the American Chemical Society's Guide to Undergraduate Research.

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    Frequently asked questions

      CHM 491WI is the writing-intensive undergraduate research course required for all majors in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. To complete CHM 491WI, you will work one-on-one with a faculty member to devise, propose, and execute an independent research project, then communicate your findings through an undergraduate thesis and poster presentation.

      It is important to do research that you are passionate about and that will develop knowledge and skills that are relevant to your career goals. Faculty members in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry work in all of the major chemical disciplines (analytical chemistry, biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry) on topics ranging from clean energy and renewable materials to understanding and combatting cancer and infectious diseases. You can also perform your CHM 491WI research outside the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. Chemistry majors have previously worked with scientists from nearby chemical companies. Biochemistry majors have previously worked with faculty members from Biology, Neuroscience, and the College of Medicine.

      You're encouraged to start undergraduate research as early as possible. Some students even begin during their Freshman and Sophomore years. You can register for CHM 491WI any time after having taken 14 credit hours of chemistry courses. Any research completed prior to enrolling in CHM 491WI can still be included in the thesis (typically, CHM 491WI research is a continuation of the same project).

      The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry provides the basic supplies and materials needed to complete an undergraduate research project. Other funding sources are also available to undergraduate students to support their research activities. Contact us for more information.

      Please contact us for more information about our Department, our programs, and capstone undergraduate research and...