William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

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Undergraduate Research

Research exposes you to a very different side of science and engineering. In courses you solve “textbook problems” – you develop your engineering skills by analyzing and solving problems for which the solution is already known. In contrast, a research project involves working on “open-ended” problems – working at the leading edge of an area on problems that no one knows the answers to yet, and in some cases for which the problem itself has not yet been well defined.  

There are a number of opportunities for undergraduates to complete research in the Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering department.  Under the direction of a faculty member, students work on a research problem that may involve laboratory work, computer programming and data analysis, and literature searching. This provides students with experience solving open-ended research problems and is ideal for students who enjoy working in the lab or on the computer, or those who are interested in graduate school.

Students with university honors designation (cumulative point hour ratio of 3.4 or higher) have the option of completing an honors research thesis.  Completing a thesis project requires students to prepare a written final report and oral presentation to department faculty. Before beginning the project, students have the option of writing a research proposal; the College of Engineering evaluates these proposals and a significant number of applicants receive fellowship awards.  Students interested in CBE 4999H should contact Dr. Koelling and view the application for a proposal(click on "Graduation with Distinction" to gather more information about this option and submit a proposal for funding (DUE 6th FRIDAY OF Autumn/SpringSemester).  Students successfully defending their thesis and completing their coursework with a cumulative GPA of 3.4 or higher will graduate with Honors Research Distinction.  Students who have a CPHR between 3.0-3.39, may also complete a research experience culminating in a thesis.  The process is the same as that of the Honors thesis, however, students will register for CBE 4999 instead.  A minimum of four semester hours of 4999H or 4999 must be completed.  

Course work in undergraduate research that does not result in a thesis may count for up to four hours of technical elective credit under the course CBE 4998.  Course work in undergraduate honors research which does result in a thesis may count for up to six hours of technical elective credit under the course CBE 4999H.  These hours do not count towards the requirement of six hours in CBE coursework.  You will still have to take two courses from the department to fulfill your elective requirements.

Getting Started

1.  The first thing you should do is a bit of research of your own.  Consult the to see which professors you would like to work with on their particular research projects. 

2.  After you have reviewed the web pages have a few professors with projects that could interest you, you have a few decisions to make before contacting the professors:

a.  Think about how much time per week that you have to complete research.  Typically, a professor requires 3 to 4 hours of work per week for each credit hour that a student earns.  Keep in mind that if you are being paid for research you cannot earn credit for those hours in which you are paid.  However, if a professor can partially fund you than you can split funding and credit hours, depending on the amount of time you can work per week.

b.  Honors students should decide in their junior year if they would like to consider a Honors Thesis project before contacting the instructor so they are prepared to talk with the instructor about in depth projects that they can work on.  You can find more about writing an honors thesis and its implications at the college's website

3.  Finally, contact the professor(s) directly that you are interested in working with to inquire about research opportunities.  To be best prepared you should be able to indicate an area of their research that you would like to work on.  This will give the faculty a better idea of what projects you may be available for.

4.  Once you have secured the approval of a faculty member and established the number of credit hours and type of research (4998 or 4999(H)),  email  the undergraduate advisor to schedule the number of hours of research for each quarter.  Note: To register for 4999H credit, you must first have a approved research proposal on file with the College Office. 

Please note that you will not automatically be scheduled for research each semester.  You must email the undergraduate advisor each semester with the required information to be registered for the course.