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   Undergraduate Research

The objective of research is to gain knowledge and understanding of a subject, sometimes with a specific objective in mind.  At the undergraduate level, research is usually performed with guidance and supervision from a university professor and their research group.  Research projects are chosen that are of interest to the student and advisor.  With time, students gain valuable experience and become more independent in the laboratory. The range of research areas in chemistry is quite broad, and few groups research solely within one of the classical fields of analytical, inorganic, organic, physical, or theoretical chemistry. More commonly, research groups today are interdisciplinary, crossing boundaries across fields and across other disciplines, such as physics, biology, materials science, engineering and medicine.

Why should I do research?

There are many reasons why you should consider research as an undergraduate student.

·      It really is a great way to learn more about chemistry!  The concepts you learn about in the classroom will be much better understood and remembered when you do research.  You will also learn more about instrumentation and analysis.  You will also gain experience in writing reports, preparing posters, and talking about chemistry with your research group members.

·      Research is a great career builder!

·      If you are considering graduate school, research as an undergraduate will provide excellent experience, as well as the opportunity to work alongside faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

Research is exciting!  You will design experiments and obtain results that no one has ever seen before.


Research in a faculty laboratory at Columbia during the academic year

The faculty in the Department of Chemistry carry out fundamental and applied research at both the core and frontiers of this scientific discipline.  There are many opportunities for research during the academic year and in the summer with faculty in the department. 

If you are interested in working in a research laboratory, you should take the following steps:

1) Investigate faculty research projects by using the department’s website,

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/chemistry, or by speaking directly with faculty members.

2) Decide which faculty research project interests you. 

3) Contact that faculty member directly to inquire about research opportunities within his/her laboratory.

The Program Manager for Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Vesna Gasperov, can assist you with this process. 

Qualified students can take the First Year Seminar in Chemical Research course (C2408) during the Spring semester in which you will have the opportunity to learn about research conducted within the chemistry department and other science departments in the university.  This can help to identify areas of interest that you may not have considered.

Research for Credit

Students can get academic credit for undergraduate research by registering for C3098 Supervised Independent Research.  Generally, students register for 4 credits as this will fulfill one of the requirements of the Chemistry major. You would be expected to commit the same number of hours to research as you would for any other 4 credit class, around 12-16 hours per week throughout the entire semester.  You need to obtain permission from your faculty sponsor and the Dr. Gasperov to register for C3098. At the end of the semester, you will be required to present a poster of your research results at a poster session for all C3098 students.


Research programs at Columbia during the summer

There are a number of summer research programs that enable undergraduate students to conduct research under the guidance of faculty in the Department of Chemistry.  Please note that the application deadlines for many of these programs are in February.

Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program at the Energy Frontier Research Center and Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center



Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF), Department of Biological Sciences


Columbia University/Barnard College Amgen Scholars Summer Research Program


Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Summer Research Program