The Department of Chemistry has a historically vibrant undergraduate research experience that has intensified in recent years. With support from the Duke Endowment and research grants to faculty, more than 20 undergraduates are working on chemistry research projects in the summer of 2008 alone. The projects reflect Duke’s interdisciplinary focus, and research is done in several departments across campus. A hallmark of the summer research experience is that undergraduates are fully integrated into the culture of the department through relationships not only with their faculty Primary Investigator (PI) and lab, but also with assigned graduate student mentors. The majority of the summer students will continue their work during the academic year, when the number of undergraduate researchers typically doubles. Of the 40 Chemistry majors in the Class of 2008, 38 participated in mentored research and 22 successfully completed an honor’s thesis.
Chemistry offers several Summer Research Fellowships for undergraduates who are interested in an intensive, full-time research experience. These fellowships are meant to provide an important piece of a longer-term experience that includes academic-year research, typically through independent study courses and leading toward an honor's thesis. Participants in the Summer Research Program will be eligible to apply for Gordon Research Fellowships that provide financial support for their Independent Study projects and thesis work.
Although the majority of participants are rising senior chemistry majors, the program is open to all Duke undergraduates who are interested in research in Chemistry. Some funds are reserved for repeating students as well. The summer program enhances the research experience in several ways. First, a team of graduate student mentors interact with the undergraduates participants to: (1) Convey the enthusiasm that all scientists feel to be a part of a thriving research environment; (2) Provide a resource, outside of the lab, for technical (who do I talk to about NMR?) and other (where do I buy groceries?) questions; (3) Help integrate the students into the social network of the department. The mentorship structure has been a key factor in the success of the Duke internal program, and mentors are chosen to span disparate research areas that complement the interests of the participants. The mentors and their assigned students (3-4 per mentor) meet informally each week over lunch or coffee to discuss general science-related topics. The mentors also attend the summer's activities and help the students prepare presentations.
A final symposium and poster session/reception brings the program to an official close each summer. For photos from the Summer 2008 poster session click here.
Program alumni have outstanding records of achievement, including exceptional rates of Graduation With Distinction and placement in graduate programs. For more information, contact Christiana Gooden.
For information on joining the Mentoring Program as a grad mentor or undergraduate participant please contact Dr. Stephen Craig.