Department of Chemistry

541 Mark Jefferson Science Complex

Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197

734.487.0106

Research Opportunities

Whether you are a graduate or an undergraduate student, if you are considering a career in scientific research, you are encouraged to participate in a research project.  These projects involve both one-on-one instruction by a faculty member and independent lab, library, or computer work by you.

If you are looking for an internship, co-op position, or other off-campus research opportunity, check out the links found on our Co-op page.

  • Graduate Students

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    Graduate students in chemistry are required to do research in order to complete an M.S. degree. The graduate adviser will provide you with information on how to choose a research adviser and sign up for research credit (CHEM 697, 698 or 699). A list of faculty members and their research interests is given below. 
  • Undergraduate Students

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    If you are interested in participating in undergraduate research, the first step is to identify a faculty member with whom you think you'd like to work.  Below is a list of faculty members, organized by sub-discipline, with a brief description of their research interests and the desired background they expect of their undergraduate research students. You can click on a name to go to that faculty member's website for a more complete description of their research program. The same information is available in a Research Opportunities flyer [PDF] that you can download and print.

    The second step is to contact those whose research is of interest to you and go talk to them. It is usually good to contact them to set up an appointment.  Faculty members are generally very happy to talk about their research, but often have busy schedules. These projects are always highly individualized and by mutual consent only. The details of what you will do, the time commitment and degree of independence expected, which research course is most appropriate, and the basis of your grade will be worked out between you and and the faculty member.

    If the two of you agree to work together, you should register for Undergraduate Research in Chemistry (which is offered at the 200-level, 300-level, and 400-level and for one, two, or three credits: 297, 397, 398, 497, 498 or 499). A typical expectation is about 3–4 hours of laboratory work per week per credit. These projects often extend for more than one semester, so multiple research course registrations are permitted. After a couple of semesters, most students have accomplished enough work to present it at the Undergraduate Symposium. Ideally, if enough is accomplished, you will become co-author of a publication in a scientific journal and/or co-presenter of your work at a professional meeting.

  • Off-Campus Opportunities

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    Virtual Open House - MS & PhD Programs in
    Drug Discovery, Drug Delivery & Clinical Translational Research
     
    October 22, 2020, 6:00 - 8:30 pm (EST)
     
    Faculty members from the University of Michigan - College of Pharmacy will share a brief overview of their MS & PhD programs and will be available to answer questions regarding the admissions process. Graduate students will discuss their research in a virtual poster session.
     
    The following graduate programs will be featured:
    Click here for the agenda & further information.
     
    ______________________________
     
    The Center for Engineering Mechanobiology seeks motivated undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds for its Undergraduate Summer Research Experience Program. This is a 10-week, on-campus program (June 1 - Aug 6, 2021) at the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University in St. Louis. Students are matched to projects within research groups based on their interests and educational background. Many projects are interdisciplinary and provide opportunities to develop research skills in the physical and biological sciences as well as engineering. Students develop practical skills in doing science: collaborating, designing experiments, collecting and analyzing data, and communicating results. Other aspects of the program complement the laboratory experience and are oriented toward professional development in broader scientific and career skills: seminars, journal clubs, professional skills and career workshops (research ethics, innovation, and technology transfer for instance).

    Application deadline: February 1, 2021
    Learn more and apply online at https://cemb.upenn.edu/education/undergraduate- research-opportunities/
    Questions or information: Please contact Dr. Annie Jeong (PENN) at [email protected] or
    Ms. Patricia Widder (WUSTL) at [email protected]
  • Faculty Research Interests

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    Analytical chemists are experts in measurement of the kinds and amounts of chemicals in a sample. Their craft has many applications, including industrial quality control, sports and police drug testing, and environmental pollutant monitoring.

    • Dr. Ruth Ann Armitage: Determines the age and composition of cultural heritage materials like textiles and rock paintings. Dr. Armitage's group is developing new analytical methods to understand the materials used by people in the ancient and historic past. (Preferred prereq: CHEM 283/284)
    • Dr. Gavin Edwards: Uses gas chromatography measurements and computer modeling to research the coupling between reactive molecules emitted from the biosphere and the impacts these molecules have on the chemistry of the atmosphere. (Prereq: CHEM 283/284)
    • Dr. Jeff Guthrie: Is studying the DNA damage produced by environmental agents such as UV light and components of cigarette smoke. (Preferred prereq: CHEM 283/284)
    • Dr. Heather Holmes: Has developed a new method for analyzing biological samples using GC-MS and utilized it to analyze products of lipid peroxidation. (Prereq: CHEM 283/284)

    Biochemists specialize in the chemistry of living systems, and can interface with biology, medicine, environmental studies, nutrition, and many other fields.

    • Dr. Brittany Albaugh: Studies the structural and molecular properties of epigenetic proteins that are implicated in cancer development. (Preferred prereq: CHEM 121/122)
    • Dr. Steven Backues: Uses yeast genetics and in vitro binding studies to examine the molecular details of how proteins control membrane dynamics and membrane trafficking during autophagy, a cellular starvation response and quality-control mechanism with many health implications.
    • Dr. Hedeel Guy Evans: Uses a variety of molecular and biochemical techniques to examine the biochemistry of protein-protein interactions and protein domains involved in cell signaling of cancer and neurological disorders. (Preferred prereq: CHEM 351 or 451)
    • Dr. Jeff Guthrie: Is developing methods to select synthetic DNA sequences that will bind to specific environmental contaminants. These sequences will then be used to develop biosensors for use in the field. (Preferred prereq: CHEM 283/284)
    • Dr. Debbie Heyl-Clegg: Designs, synthesizes, and purifies abbreviated versions of polypeptides (proteins) and then tests them as potential inhibitors of enzymes or membrane interaction, which could be used in the treatment of diabetes and as antibiotics. (Preferred prereq: CHEM 351 or 451)

    Inorganic chemists' turf is the entire periodic chart except for carbon. They could be involved in synthesis and study of practically anything.

    • Dr. Vance Kennedy: Synthesizes new silicon-oxygen complexes and then strategically substitutes them with functional groups to make compounds that can be used in the field of non-linear optics. (Preferred prereq: CHEM 283/284)
    • Dr. Larry Kolopajlo: Studies the rates of binding for certain nickel-Lewis base complexes. Learning about the Lewis acid-Lewis base reaction mechanism could assist in fine-tuning complexes that could be used for isolating nickel to remove it from water sources. (Prereq: CHEM 283/284)

    Medicinal chemists are organic chemists bent on the synthesis of new or better drugs. (This is not to be confused with pharmacology, which centers on the effectiveness and toxicity of drugs.)

    • Dr. Cory Emal: Designs and synthesizes molecules that are tested for their ability to inactivate an important human enzyme inhibitor. The novel compounds constructed by Dr. Emal's group are similar to some of the medicinally active ingredients in red wine and green tea, and potentially have similar useful properties. (Preferred prereq: CHEM 373)
    • Dr. Debbie Heyl-Clegg: Designs, synthesizes, and purifies abbreviated versions of polypeptides (proteins) and then tests them as potential inhibitors of enzymes or membrane interaction, which could be used in the treatment of diabetes and as antibiotics. (Preferred prereq: CHEM 351 or 451)

    Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon compounds, including plastics, adhesives, coatings, agricultural products, dyes, medicines, and many others. Most of the known chemical substances are organic chemicals.

    • Dr. Cory Emal: Designs and synthesizes molecules that are tested for their ability to inactivate an important human enzyme inhibitor. The novel compounds constructed by Dr. Emal's group are similar to some of the medicinally active ingredients in red wine and green tea, and potentially have similar useful properties. (Preferred prereq: CHEM 373)
    • Dr. Tim Friebe: Develops new reactions using microwave-assisted synthesis in a new method to generate molecules called oxazolones. These molecules are very useful building blocks for several drugs. (Preferred prereq: CHEM 373)
    • Dr. Harriet Lindsay: Develops new reactions and uses the reactions as tools for the synthesis of molecules that could be useful in medicine or agriculture. Some of the molecules that are currently under construction may have potential in the treatment of type II diabetes or could serve as more environmentally friendly chemicals for crop protection. (Preferred prereq: CHEM 371)
    • Dr. Don Snyder: Develops coatings that can be used as probes to be used for detection of various metals (ex. leaching of copper from ships into water). Also, Dr. Snyder uses laser probes to determine the structural integrity of coatings that can be used to protect certain surfaces. (Preferred prereq: CHEM 373)
    • Dr. Gregg Wilmes: Develops ways to tune the structure and stereochemistry of polymers as they form so that they assemble into useful structures. Dr. Wilmes also uses NMR analysis to monitor the formation of certain polymers. (Preferred prereq: CHEM 373)

    Physical chemists are interested in understanding the behavior of chemicals in terms of the underlying principles of physics. They measure, calculate, and try to make sense of chemical structures and reactions. Theoretical chemists, computer jocks, and laser chemists are likely to be physical chemists.

    • Dr. Tim Friebe: Is interested in the properties of gold and silver nanoparticles. My research involves the synthesis, characterization, and application of nanomaterials. These materials are then studied for their unique optical and electrical properties as sensing agents and their influence on various fluorophores in solution. (Prereq: CHEM 123)
    • Dr. Maria Milletti: Uses computer modeling to determine reaction pathways and lowest energy conformations of molecules. Dr. Milletti collaborates with others in the department to investigate important issues such as reaction selectivity and mechanisms of enzyme inhibition. (No prereq.)
    • Dr. Ross Nord: Performs kinetic studies on the statistics of lattice-filling processes. Particular emphasis is paid to the oxidation of carbon monoxide on catalyst surfaces. Comparison is made between the results of the mathematical models and those of experiment or simulation. (Prereq: CHEM 123)

    Polymer chemistry involves the synthesis and study of the very large molecules used in plastics, and is the biggest employment area for chemists.

    • Dr. Don Snyder: Develops coatings that can be used as probes to be used for detection of various metals (ex. leaching of copper from ships into water). Also, Dr. Snyder uses laser probes to determine the structural integrity of coatings that can be used to protect certain surfaces. (Preferred prereq: CHEM 373)
    • Dr. Gregg Wilmes: Develops ways to tune the structure and stereochemistry of polymers as they form so that they assemble into useful structures. Dr. Wilmes also uses NMR analysis to monitor the formation of certain polymers. (Preferred prereq: CHEM 373)

    Chemical education is the study of teaching and learning chemistry at all levels from grade school to university.

    • Dr. Amy Johnson is interested in exploring the variety of ways that students think about, learn, and apply chemical knowledge, both in the classroom and in the lab. In particular, she is fascinated by the phenomenon of knowledge transfer, or the process by which students can take information learned in one context and apply it to another.
    • Dr. Larry Kolopajlo: Is interested in the secondary curriculum, including: outreach activities, crime scene investigation, cosmetic chemistry, animations and videos and writing in the chemistry classroom.

Opportunities for Financial Support for Student Research and Travel

  • Undergraduates

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    The Undergraduate Research Stimulus Program (URSP) is intended to facilitate research or creative partnerships between undergraduate students and EMU faculty. The award provides:

    • $2000 for students to work on a project for winter or summer semesters
    • $500 to faculty for supplies, travel,etc.
    • Deadlines for applications:
      • October 31 for winter fellowships
      • February 15 for summer fellowships
    • Visit the URSP website for application, guidelines and proposal scoring rubric.

    For more information about URSP contact Dr. Harriet Lindsay, Faculty Associate, Office of Research, Development, and Administration ([email protected]).

  • Graduate Students

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    The Graduate School has a Conference Travel Fund for Graduate Students. More information and a link to the application form can be found at the Graduate School's website.

Summer Science Research Initiative

The Summer Science Research Initiative (SSRI) is a series of supplemental activities for science and technology students who are on campus working on research projects with their faculty mentors during the summer months. The purpose of the program is to create a community of scholars consisting of both faculty and students that share ideas and get to know each other during a series of events such as general science lectures, laboratory tours, resume-building workshops, etc. The program typically runs from mid-May to mid-July. For more information, please contact Professor Maria Milletti or Professor Harriet Lindsay.

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