Research

Research is perhaps the best way to experience the excitement of modern biochemistry and to really develop a deeper understanding of the field. All majors are required to do either library or laboratory research. We strongly encourage you to do undergraduate laboratory research, either at CSB/SJU or off campus. Not only will it help you get into graduate/medical schools or gain employment, but it will also develop and solidify your interest in biochemistry. You will also gain the experience of working closely with a professor who will mentor you in your project.

Laboratory Research at CSB/SJU

The Biology and Chemistry Departments have many opportunities for undergraduate research. Students may apply for selection into a ten-week summer undergraduate program. Students live on campus and receive a summer stipend as well as board. Students may also continue or start research in the academic year. Below are links for our research active faculty, related to biochemistry.

Research Active Faculty in Biology with Interest in Biochemistry

Research Active Faculty in Chemistry with Interest in Biochemistry

Research Courses

Students may enroll in research course in either the Biology or Chemistry Departments.

Biology Department

Students may enroll in 372A: Biological Research (1-4),   For this course, students will conduct original research under the supervision of a faculty moderator from Biology.   Students write a proposal for this course which should include: 

  • An examination of the nature of the problem, including a thorough literature review 
  • A description of the methodology to be used 
  • The name of the moderator
  • A justification for the credits requested 

If the student's project requires special skills and techniques, e.g. radioactive labeling, histological preps, or electron microscopy, then they must indicate proficiency with these skills or concurrent registration in courses teaching those skills. If this is not possible, the moderator may approve the project if he/she undertakes to teach those skills as part of the research project.  

Alternatively, students may enroll in Biology 372B: Special Topics in Biology (1-4). This course traditionally involves readings, discussions or courses in areas of biology not covered in departmental courses. Topics may be selected by students or faculty. The design and content will draw upon texts or current literature, and may include laboratory or field exercises.  For this course, students must write an application which includes course design, content, credit justification, reference materials, and staff involved. 

Chemistry

Students may do either library (CH350) or laboratory (CH331) research.  However, they are strongly encouraged to do laboratory research.

In CH 350 Library Research and Seminar (1-2 credits), students do in-depth library research and reading of primary sources on a single topic.  The emphasis of the seminar is on comprehension and criticism. Under the guidance of a faculty moderator the student reads background and primary literature on a topic chosen with the moderator (see note that follows about choosing a moderator). Progress is recorded in the form of a review-type essay. A final paper is required which has evolved through several drafts with constructive criticism from the faculty moderator on each draft. Prerequisites: CHEM 236, 320.

Students planning to do laboratory research (CH331) should take CHEM 350 before starting research or in the Spring of their junior year. Otherwise they may take it in either the Spring of the junior year or the Fall of the senior year. In consult with the CHEM 320/350/351 supervisor (see the List of Faculty Duties to find out who this is), students must choose a faculty moderator before registering for CHEM 350. They must also submit to the supervisor the form "Library Research Proposal" and sign a "Research Contract". These papers should be signed by the third week of the semester in which the credits will be earned. The seminar requirement of this course is described below.

In CHEM 351, 375 Laboratory Research (1-4 credits) students have an  independent laboratory research experience using modern techniques and equipment. Under the supervision of a faculty moderator the student investigates a research program in the laboratory. Progress is recorded in a laboratory notebook and a formal paper describing their work. Prerequisites: CHEM 320 and permission of instructor.

Registration for CHEM 351 is by permission of the department. Students wishing to enroll in CHEM 351 must develop a research proposal with the help of a faculty member, normally during the second semester of the junior year. If this proposal is accepted by the department, the student is required to fill out the "Laboratory Research Proposal" form and sign a research contract before registering for CHEM 351. These forms must be submitted to the CH320/350/351 supervisor. These papers should be signed by the third week of the semester in which the credits will be earned.

Each student must write a formal paper describing their library or laboratory research and orally present their research at the annual Senior Chemistry Seminar Symposium held during the Spring semester. The supervisor will be in contact with senior majors to assist them in the preparation of the seminar.

Grading for CH350 and 351

In order to assure a more uniform grading system, the chemistry faculty approved this grading scheme for research projects. The grade will be based on the following components, using the percentages in parentheses.

(30%) Process

This component reflects the student's quality of work and will include the following:

  • Effort: how much work did the student do to make the project a success?
  • Meetings: did the student meet regularly with the research advisor?
  • Preparation: how well was the student prepared for each meeting with the advisor?
  • Responsibility: how well did the student assume responsibility for the project?

(10%) Seminar Attendance

This component reflects the student's attendance at departmental seminars during the junior and senior year. This grade will be calculated from the number of unexcused absences a student accumulates during this time period.

(30%) Final Paper

This component is determined by the paper written by the student. The student's research advisor will determine this grade based on the following criteria:

  • Evaluation of at least one draft
  • Quality of the writing
  • Quality of the research
  • Use of chemical literature
  • Use of experimental data
  • Validity of conclusions drawn

(20%) Seminar Presentation

This component, evaluated by the student's research advisor, is based on the student's presentation. The following criteria will be used to determine this grade:

  • Quality of abstract
  • Appropriateness and readability of audiovisuals
  • Clarity of presentation
  • Scientific content of presentation
  • Demonstration of competence in

(10%) Deadlines

This component reflects how well the student has met established deadlines for completion of the research project and will be determined by the CHEM 350/351 coordinator. The deadlines, given to students in September of their senior year, apply to the following tasks:

  • Selection of a research advisor and project
  • Submission of a detailed outline to research advisor
  • Submission of an abstract (approved by the research advisor)


Links related to Student Research