Research Classes/Enrollment Procedures

Purpose and Eligibility

The ability to work independently is an essential skill for all science students.  The GVSU Chemistry Department offers several courses of independent research to provide you with a variety of laboratory and library research experiences.  All qualified students are encouraged to participate in independent research before graduation.

Readings in Chemistry (CHM 399) is designed to allow you to perform independent library research about a specific topic of chemistry research.  You will select and research the topic in consultation with a chemistry faculty advisor.  To be eligible for CHM 399, you must be a junior with a GPA of more than 2.5 in chemistry courses, have approval of the Chemistry Department chairperson, and have a Chemistry Department project sponsor.

Investigation Problems (CHM 499) is designed to allow you to gain experience in laboratory research in chemistry.  As an independent research student, you will work closely with a faculty advisor in selecting, planning and performing chemistry experiments.  All chemistry majors who are planning to go to graduate school or get an ACS certified degree are strongly encouraged to participate in an independent senior research project.  Enrollment in Chemistry 499 is restricted to chemistry majors (sophomore level or higher) with a GPA at least 2.5 in chemistry courses. 

Chemistry Laboratory Internship (CHM 490) is practical on-the-job training and independent study in specialized areas of chemistry at a company, government agency or research laboratory not affiliated with GVSU.  More information can be found on the CHM 490 internship page.

Senior Project (CHM 498) is a summative research experience course designed to integrate several semesters of research into a single extensive written manuscript, or a poster presented at a regional or national scientific meeting. CHM 498 is only for students who have previously completed CHM 499 research credits with a GVSU professor.

CHM 399, CHM 499 and CHM 498 enrollment procedures

Students wishing to enroll in CHM 399, CHM 499 or CHM 498 should take the following steps:

  1. A student must first identify a chemistry faculty sponsor who will oversee the project.  Students and sponsors sometimes come together because of positive interactions in a class.  Alternatively, students can identify potential mentors by looking through the list of faculty and their interests.  The student and sponsor should discuss the project requirements, in which semester the work will be carried out, and how many credits the student would like to register for.  With agreement of their mentor, students can choose 1, 2 or 3 credits (or even higher in special circumstances).  The number of lab hours per credit is defined by the mentor, but is minimally the same as a 1 credit lab course (3-4 hours). 
  2. Once a faculty sponsor has been identified and agrees to serve as a mentor, the student should request a registration permit for CHM 399 or CHM 499 through MyBanner.  If you don't know how to request such a permit, GVSU provides instructions.
  3. Next, the student should fill out the Chemistry Research Enrollment Request Form, which can be found at the link below.  This form alerts both the department and the faculty member of the request, and allows the faculty member to confirm their willingness to sponsor the project.
  4. Lastly, once your permit has been approved, you will receive an Email from the department via MyBanner indicating that you are now eligible to register.  Very important:  it is still necessary for you to register for the class in MyBanner before 5 pm on Friday of the first week of class.

Independent Research Requirements

  1. When performing laboratory work (499), you must maintain a laboratory notebook as required by all upper-level chemistry laboratory courses.  Your notebook must be turned in with the final report and will not be returned.
  2. You must submit a written report at the end of the project. The report will be kept on file and will not be returned.  The report will normally include a summary of the project with relevant historical and background material, a conclusion and references.  Laboratory reports should also include experimental procedures, tabulated data, data analysis, and calculations.
  3. You must submit in writing a work schedule to your faculty supervisor at the beginning of the term.  The schedule should include at least three hours of research time per credit hour. You are expected to meet this schedule.
  4. You must meet with a faculty member once a week to discuss what has been accomplished during the previous week and what is planned for the upcoming week.  The meeting should be included on your weekly schedule.
  5. When enrolled in CHM 499, you will be expected to present an oral research report in the Chemistry Seminar (schedule permitting).