Undergraduate students have a unique opportunity to perform research in one of our many interdisciplinary research labs. Most chemistry research students are chemistry majors. Chemistry majors seeking a B.S. degree are required to take at least eight credit hours of research through CHEM 391, 491, 492, and 493.
Although many Chemistry majors work with Rice Chemistry professors, we also encourage and support students doing research in other Rice science departments or in the Texas Medical Center (TMC). To earn credit for your research, students must have their research proposal approved by the CHEM 391/491 Course Instructor. To be approved for credit in the chemistry department, the research should have something to do with chemistry (defined broadly) and should be set up to provide a positive research experience.
Students should expect to spend at least 3 hours per week (or at least 42 hours over the course of the semester) for each credit hour. In the first semester of independent research, students should enroll in CHEM 391 for at least 3 credit hours before the end of their junior year. Prior to enrollment, students must secure a position in a laboratory. In subsequent semesters, students should enroll in CHEM 491 for independent research (or CHEM 492/493 for honors thesis research) and may choose the appropriate number of credit hours with approval from their Research Advisor.
CHEM 491 is repeatable for credit and students wishing to pursue graduate school or other careers in research and applied science are encouraged to gain as much research experience as possible. Students are not limited to one lab, and may choose another lab in subsequent semesters. A major advantage of continuing in one lab may include obtaining results to co-author a publication.
The Chemistry Honors Research Program, CHEM 492/493, offers students in their final year at Rice the opportunity to perform a two-semester, individual chemistry research project. These courses function as a pair and must be taken in the same academic year. Course requirements include (but are not limited to) completing a research proposal, a public presentation of findings, and a formal research report or thesis in the Spring term. Students must formally apply into CHEM 492/493 with the recommendation of their Research Advisor. If you are conducting research for a thesis outside the Chemistry Department you must have an on-campus Chemistry Department secondary advisor. Applications must be submitted to the course instructor February 1 - August 1 (early application submission is highly encouraged). Students who complete the Chemistry Honors Research Program are given primary consideration for "Distinction in Research and Creative Work," a university award for select undergraduates, chosen by the Department and granted at commencement, which appears on the transcript and diploma.
First, start planning far in advance. Before enrolling in CHEM 391/491/492/493, you must be accepted into a laboratory. The deadline for course enrollment is several weeks before the start of the semester. Some labs may have extensive laboratory or safety training that must be completed before the start of the semester. Labs at the Texas Medical Center often have access control regulations that require filling paperwork months in advance of starting in the lab.
Once you have secured a research position, you must fill out and submit an online application. The online application must be submitted by August 1st for the Fall term, December 1st for the Spring term, or April 1st for the Summer term to ensure enrollment in CHEM 391/491/492/493. Once you have submitted the online application, the Course Instructor will verify your position and proposed research project with the Research Advisor and then submit a registration override via Esther. No paper special registration form is required to be signed or submitted, and only the Course Instructor (not Research Advisors) is authorized to enroll students. If you have any questions about enrollment, please contact the Course Instructor.
Please see How Do I Find a Research Opportunity? for more information.
In addition to CHEM 391, 491, 492 and 493, a limited number of opportunities exist for undergraduates to do research during the summer. The summer research opportunities include the Dr. Paul S. Engel Fellowship, the George Holmes Richter Memorial Fellowship and the Zevi & Bertha Salsburg Memorial Fellowship in Chemistry. These are sometimes paid positions, as opposed to being taken for credit. Information regarding applying for these summer opportunities will be sent to all students on the Chemistry Undergraduate listserv in the late Fall of each academic year. To join the listserv, email email@example.com.
In addition, the Department of Chemistry has a Canvas site to post research opportunities at Rice and other institutions. Click here to join the site.
Special Note for international students: Most international students interested in summer research should apply for an F-1 OPT (Optional Practical Training). An OPT is appropriate for all students working off campus, and most students working on campus as well. In limited cases where a student plans to conduct research at Rice for credit, the F-1 CPT (Curricular Practical Training) may be appropriate.
International students should make summer plans well in advance; OPT applications typically require 60 days (or up to 90 days) processing time. Please consult Rice OISS with any questions.