Chemistry

Undergraduate Research

For an undergraduate student, involvement in research provides excellent preparation for graduate school, medical and other health-related schools, as well as careers in industry. If you are looking for careers in these fields, we are here to meet your needs.

Learn by Discovery

Undergraduate research is an essential component of quality chemistry education, and research is becoming a focal point in each science discipline at Western. Through independent research, chemistry students learn by discovery, instead of simply reading or being told about science. Independent research not only reinforces the basic concepts of chemistry, but also teaches our students how chemistry is put into practice. Research prepares Western students to be the scientists of the future and opens doorways for future discoveries.

Supportive Academic Environment

WIU has an academic environment which provides an excellent opportunity for research in chemistry for undergraduate students. In addition to the diverse range of projects in which one can become involved at WIU, we have state-of-the-art equipment which provides experience in using the most modern instrumentation in the field of chemistry.

Besides the numerous electronic classrooms and teaching/research laboratories, as well as a physical sciences library with more than 60 journals and online literature search capabilities through the chemical abstract service, some equipment & facilities available for teaching and research include:

  • FPLC
  • HPLC
  • FT-NMR
  • FT-IR
  • UV-Vis
  • GC-MS spectrometers
  • Capillary electrophoresis
  • High-Speed Centrifuge

Undergraduate research is often the highlight of a student's learning experience as a chemistry major because you have the opportunity to join a professor's research group and participate in interdisciplinary research at the frontiers of chemical science.

Course Credit for Research

Credits may be received through research courses, which often serve as electives for chemistry majors. You can see and be a part of the cutting-edge applications of your course work in developing new materials, solving environmental problems and gaining detailed understanding of important biological systems. You can experience the excitement of discovery while working in partnership with faculty and graduate students who mentor you. You can acquire hands-on experience and general scientific skills that will be valuable whether you choose to pursue graduate study, health professions or careers in industry.

A wide variety of research projects suitable for pursuit by undergraduates are available in the Chemistry Department. A great majority of chemistry majors spend multiple semesters in a research group and often are featured as co-authors in abstracts resulting from their work. Remember, you need not be a chemistry major to participate in undergraduate research in the Chemistry Department.

Undergraduate Students Achievement

Our undergraduate students have actively participated in many scientific meetings including the Annual Argonne Symposium for Undergraduates in Science, Engineering and Mathematics; the Illinois State Academy of Science; Annual Illinois Student Research Conference; American Chemical Society; American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB); and Undergraduate Research Day at WIU.

Get Involved

The first step is to identify a faculty member with whom you think you'd like to work, and who is interested in directing a project for you. Select faculty mentors whose work interests you and talk to them. These projects are always highly individualized and require mutual consent to participate. The details of what you will do, time commitment, degree of independence expected, which research course is most appropriate, and the basis of your grade are all worked out between you and the faculty member.

These projects involve both one-on-one instruction by a faculty member working in an independent lab and library or computer work by you. You may register for one of the research courses, CHEM 390, 429, and 490 for junior and senior undergraduates, respectively. These projects often extend beyond one semester, so multiple research course registrations are permitted. Ideally, if enough is accomplished, you will become co-author of an abstract presentation at a professional meeting or a publication in a scientific journal.