For 25 years chemistry majors have been developing their critical thinking skills and gaining practical experience as part of the Chemistry Department’s Undergraduate Research Program (URP) held every summer.
“The URP Program is competitive. Currently, about half of the students who apply for the program are selected to participate,” said Gregory J. Grant, Irvine W. Grote Professor of Chemistry.
Grant said the summer research program benefits students in many ways.
“It exposes them to laboratory techniques, scientific literature, and develops their communication skills,” said Grant.
The research program also gives students an opportunity to explore career choices, make presentations at professional meetings, and write for scientific journals.
“We feel that participation in the URP will reap benefits from the student not obvious to them now. Students who participated 10-15 years ago talk about the role URP played in their own professional development,” Grant said.
Participants develop their research skills through projects selected by faculty members as an extension of their on-going research work. The research groups consist of eight pairings–one chemistry major with one faculty member.
In addition to the support the URP from the Grote Fund, external grants from agencies such as the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Petroleum Research Fund have supported student projects. The total URP budget is typically between $75K – $100K. This year nine faculty and 14 students are involved in summer research in chemistry at UTC.
The URP sets UTC apart by providing undergraduate chemistry students the chance to do a quality research project. Normally, such opportunities would only be available to students at the master’s or doctoral level.
“The high level of research work done by students at UTC during URP is recognized by other chemists throughout the Southeast, the US, and even the world. One measure of a quality undergraduate chemistry program is the quality of its research. UTC is certainly competitive with other schools in the Southeastern US,” Grant added.