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Undergraduate Opportunities

Undergraduate Opportunities

The Department of Chemistry provides a number of opportunities for you to become involved with the faculty and other chemistry majors in activities outside the classroom. We view your participation in these activities as an important way for us to assess both your interest in the chemical profession and your ability to work and interact with others.

Some activities such as the departmental seminar series which sponsors both on-campus and off-campus speakers allow you to see chemistry from other perspectives. Others like the Chemistry Club and the ACS Student Affiliate Chapter give you occasions to travel to professional meetings and to other interesting places such as a nuclear power plant or an industrial chemistry lab. Additionally some of these opportunities are geared to make you feel more a part of the every day workings of the department and provide a chance for you to contribute in a tangible way to the success of our chemistry program.

Scholarship and Financial Aid Information

Chemistry majors who are formally declared as chemistry majors who have completed 12 hours of coursework and who are enrolled for at least six hours may apply for a number of types of financial aid. To be eligible for financial aid you must also be making satisfactory academic progress toward your degree. Additionally all students must reapply every year for continuation of financial aid and are required to report to the Financial Aid Office any new scholarships loans grants and earnings not recorded on the original financial aid application.

Specific policies and procedures for application for financial aid are described in detail in the most current University Undergraduate Catalogue. For specific information relative to financial aid and scholarships you should contact the SU Financial Aid Office.

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ACS Affiliate Chapter

Students who are declared chemistry majors at SU may become ACS student affiliates and may also become a member of the SU ACS Student Affiliate Chapter. You may become an ACS student affiliate by completing an application available from the department secretary. The ACS student affiliates program has more than 850 college and university chapters. Benefits of student membership include Chemical & Engineering News the ACS weekly news magazine substantial discounts on ACS journals employment services and access to special student-oriented events at national regional and local ACS meetings.

Go to American Chemical Society

Departmental Seminar Series

Each semester the department offers a seminar series featuring a selection of departmental and off-campus speakers. The subject is chemistry but the presentations vary widely in their subject matter slant e.g. academic or industrial and depth. Students from all levels are strongly encouraged to attend these talks and the stimulating discussions which follow. These informal meetings offer an unusual opportunity to talk face-to-face with scientists from other universities with graduate programs as well as with scientists from industry and from various government agencies.

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Employment as a Department Lab Assistant

The department encourages interested chemistry majors to consider employment as departmental lab assistants. As a lab assistant you can personally contribute to the quality of laboratory instruction especially in the general organic and biochemistry laboratories. Lab assistants typically work about 10 hours per week under the direct supervision of a faculty member. Starting salaries begin at approximately minimum wage and increase with both years of experience and service. Senior lab assistants are given greater responsibility than first or second year assistants often being responsible for the supervision of other student assistants. The experience gained as a lab assistant and the appreciation of what is required to make the laboratories run each week make this an especially valuable experience for any student contemplating graduate studies. See the department secretary for additional information about working for the department. In addition campus employment is also available through the Work Experience Office. You may apply for jobs upon the basis of skills and job availability.

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Tutoring / Grading

The department offers a variety of opportunities for interested majors to offer service as paid tutors. Each semester the department provides lists of those chemistry majors who are both willing and able to tutor students who are having difficulty in our chemistry courses. Tutors have also occasionally been referred to local high school students who are seeking extra help in their high school chemistry courses.

Additional opportunities for both service and employment in the department are available for those students whose schedules or interests preclude employment as a lab assistant. You may be interested in working for one or more faculty members as a grader in a variety of chemistry courses. You should have already had the course for which you are interested in grading (unless it is one of our General Education courses) and you should have performed at a relatively high level in the course. You may wish to approach individual faculty members about grading homework and/or quizzes for them.

Otherwise you should see the department secretary if you feel you are qualified and would like to be considered as a grader for one or more chemistry courses or if you are interested in having your name on the tutor list.

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The department offers the internship option (CHEM 413) as part of the B.S. chemistry curriculum. This valuable experience is designed to provide the opportunity to use your chemical knowledge and skills in a professional setting. It also provides you with contacts in the field and independent evaluation of your chemical skills by professionals outside the department.

Student internship placement is available through the department in a large number of industrial commercial and government laboratory settings. You may also design and negotiate your own internship experience if it is previously approved by the department. Typically students complete the laboratory portion of their internships in the summer although some students have found evening positions which allow them to complete the requirements during a regular academic semester.

Internships may or may not be paid experiences depending upon the particular setting. For further information about internships contact the department secretary who will direct you to the departmental internship supervisor.

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The department offers undergraduate research (CHEM 210, CHEM 310, and CHEM 410) as part of the B.S. chemistry curriculum. This valuable experience provides you an opportunity to carry out an original research project in some specialized area of chemistry of mutual interest to you and a supervising chemistry faculty member. Collaboration on such a project will enhance your skills in creative problem-solving and in application of laboratory and instrumental techniques to a real-world problem. In addition you will be required to work closely with a faculty mentor and to have interpersonal skills needed in graduate school and the industrial workplace.

You will be given an opportunity to present your research results at the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium which takes place near the end of each spring semester. You will share your results and ideas with undergraduate research students in other science disciplines.

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Significance of Service / Letters of Recommendation

As graduation approaches you will probably find it necessary to ask chemistry faculty to write recommendations for you as part of your application to chemistry graduate programs or for employment in the private or government sectors. Your track record at SU however extends far beyond your performance in the classroom. While your success in chemistry courses is usually of central importance to graduate schools and potential employers faculty are also required to comment on your personal traits general integrity and dependability ability to work well with others cooperation and potential for success in the chemical field. Awards and letters of appreciation for service to the department are also important indicators of your commitment and potential for service in the chemical profession.

Your participation in activities outside the classroom is therefore critically important when a faculty member writes a letter of recommendation or fills out an evaluation for you. Participation in the Chemical Society; service as a lab assistant grader or tutor; attendance at departmental seminars and special presentations when invited speakers come to the department; and conscientious performance of internship responsibilities all contribute to the total picture of you. Failure to participate in anything but academic classwork makes it very difficult for a faculty member to comment on much more than your grades or your general ability to work in the lab.

For these reasons you are strongly encouraged to participate in as many departmental activities as you can. Not only will it help to fill your resume it will provide you with a more complete and satisfying education in chemistry here at SU.

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