To start, you need to find out what kind of chemistry appeals to you.
Then, speak directly with the professor who does that kind of research to ask if there are openings. Once you have narrowed your field of interest, the next step is to talk with the professors. They can give you a better idea of what they are doing and what you may be able to do.
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If you decide that you like the area of research, you and the professor can devise an individual research plan and you can begin your work. The senior thesis is the written document describing your research project, and is a vital part of both chemistry and your BS degree. Written communication of scientific accomplishments is an essential component of research. Even the most stunning technical accomplishments are worthless if they are left buried in a lab notebook.
However, there is not a single formula or recipe for technical writing. A thesis describing a synthetic organic project will certainly look quite different from a theoretical physical chemistry thesis. Below are some general guidelines for thesis content.
You should talk with your adviser frequently about specific thesis details. It is also wise to ask your senior research adviser and second reader for advice based on their reading of a preliminary draft. The starting point for your thesis should be the introduction of a well defined chemical problem, the problem which your research will address.
This introduction should clearly state the objectives of your research, and discuss the significance of the issues involved.
You should discuss the methods used to address the problem. The introduction is often useful to compare different possible approaches and state why the chosen methods are appropriate to your project. All procedures and techniques should be carefully defined. You will need to submit your draft or proposal for a first round of peer review early in Spring semester. If you choose to write the thesis, you should have identified a topic and an advisor by the start of Autumn quarter of your senior year some students choose a topic in the Spring of junior year and begin work in the summer so you can enroll in and begin your research.
Note: If your research involves other human beings for example, collecting oral histories, conducting interviews, or administering surveys or animals, please be aware that it may require prior approval by an Institutional Review Board IRB. This can be a time-consuming process and involves collaboration with your faculty advisor, so you will need to build extra time into your schedule. Whether you write the senior essay or the thesis, nothing is more important than the choice of a topic.
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It should be something that engages you, that sparks your curiosity or imagination, and that has stakes that matter to you. But it should also be a topic of manageable scale, one that can adequately be explored in the time available to you. Your faculty advisor can help you to shape your project at the outset, and to make any necessary adjustments along the way.
No formal advisor is required for the senior essay. If you choose to revise and expand an earlier paper, you may want to reconnect with the instructor for whom you wrote the original. They may well be willing to serve as an informal advisor as you undertake your revisions.
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If choosing a new topic, you may wish to speak with a professor in the department or on our affiliated faculty with expertise in the subject matter. Each of you also has your own faculty advisor with whom you can confer, as well as the professor who will be teaching If you write a thesis you must have a formal thesis advisor: he or she will supervise any thesis research courses you take , the writing of the thesis itself, and the oral exam at the end of the process.
This might be the same person as your faculty advisor but it need not be. You should choose someone with whom you are comfortable usually because you have been in a class together before and who has enough knowledge of the subject matter to guide your work. You may wish to speak informally with more than one professor before making a final decision. There are several sources of funding for undergraduate research. Arts and Sciences awards two kinds of scholarships on a competitive basis each academic year; each requires a letter of support from an academic advisor, and preference is given to students planning to write a thesis.
Applications for a given academic year are due in early February of the preceding year. There are two application cycles per academic year.
Applications for both are reviewed twice a year.