Undergraduate Research

Faculty in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering are active researchers in many of the most exciting and important fields of chemical engineering. Undergraduates participate in many of these research programs, enriching their education and joining the quest for new discoveries.

Through original research, you’ll learn new experimental, computational, and theoretical skills that benefit both your classwork and your future career. Research also provides an opportunity to experience the challenges and excitement of a potential career path that includes graduate school followed by academic or industrial research.

Research may be conducted for credit or for pay. Discuss the possible options with your research advisor. 

Research for Course Credit

CBE offers four research courses that can be taken for credit. Please read over each option and consider which class fits your situation best.

CBE 28901: Undergraduate Research
First and second-year students should sign up for this course as their first experience in research. This one-credit course involves a minimum commitment of 4-5 hours per week. This course is S/U, may be taken more than once, but does not satisfy chemical engineering degree requirements.

CBE 48901: Undergraduate Research
Students in their third year and beyond should sign up for this course as their first experience in research. This one-credit course involves a minimum commitment of 4-5 hours per week. This course is S/U, may be taken more than once, but does not satisfy chemical engineering degree requirements.

CBE 48902: Advanced Undergraduate Research
This is a three-credit course in which students should expect to spend 12-15 hours per week. Successful completion of CBE 48901 or another substantial research experience is a prerequisite for enrolling in this course, which can be counted as a technical elective.

Students in this course must produce a written research report, (3,000 – 5,000 words) at the end of the semester. This course is graded and may be repeated but may only count as a technical elective one time.

Some students choose to do a research course in another department. This can count as a technical elective if the course is science or engineering related research, 3 credit hours, graded, and requires a significant written report.

CBE 48903: Undergraduate Thesis
This 3-credit course is typically taken in the final semester of the program. Successful completion of CBE 48901, CBE 48902, or a substantial research experience in CBE is a prerequisite for enrolling. Students produce a substantial written document and defend it orally before a committee of CBE faculty. The ideal outcome of a successfully defended undergraduate thesis is a journal article. This course can be counted as a 3 credit CBE elective. The research can be conducted in any department but the defense committee must have at least one CBE faculty member.

How to determine your research path

Undergraduate research is a commitment by you and the research advisor. Approach it like you might approach finding a job by doing your “research” ahead of time.

  • Identify potential advisors by looking through faculty webpages, reading about the types of problems they work on, and thinking about what aligns with your own interests.
  • Talk to your faculty advisor and other undergraduate and graduate students conducting research.
  • Contact potential research advisors to discuss your interests, potential research projects, and expectations.
  • Once you find a good match between your interests and an advisor, agree upon specifics.
  • If taking research for credit, speak with Lisa Ellam in the CBE office to sign up for the necessary course.