Undergraduate Research


Undergraduate Research Opportunities

We Believe That You Learn Science by Doing Science!

In keeping with the philosophy of the College of Science, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry encourages all students to become involved with research! By providing undergraduates with many opportunities to participate, through credit courses, paid positions, and a wide range of research areas, we feel there is something for everyone!
One of the primary advantages of attending a major university is the opportunity to participate in internationally recognized research programs. As well as giving you the opportunity to explore research as a possible career option, you will work with professional colleagues in what often becomes a lifelong professional relationship.
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Connection to faculty! Your research director becomes your advisor and often your mentor and provides you with information on job opportunities, different graduate programs and various professional schools.

Your participation in research develops and testifies to your independence of thought. Being an original thinker is a highly desirable trait in a scientist.

Exit interviews conducted with graduating seniors indicate that students who have participated in research early in their undergraduate career are better prepared for senior level courses, and are better able to connect and retain the concepts presented.

Employers, graduate programs and professional schools will usually request letters of recommendation and/or telephone calls from your research director. Having a faculty member who knows your accomplishments and experience is beneficial when competing for these positions.

When you go to interviews, your research activities may become the central focus of the interview.

More than likely, if you conduct research you will be presenting your findings either orally or in poster format. Being able to convey scientific to the general public as well as other scientists is a highly valuable skill.

The process of finding a research project, including a thesis advisor, involves many steps as outlined below:  

1. Choose one or more broad areas in which you are interested. As an undergraduate it is important to maintain a broad perspective. Defining too narrow an area of research interest will considerably limit your options. For example, diabetes is relatively broad whereas finding someone who studies the effects of diabetes on the cardiovascular system would greatly restrict your possible choices.

If you are unsure how to proceed in selecting an area of interest, you should meet with your advisor who can provide some guidance. Only general faculty are available to be research faculty advisors, not post-docs, graduate or undergraduate students. However they can be listed as supervisors.

2. Contact professors by emailing them, calling them on the phone, or visiting their office to arrange an appointment to discuss possible research opportunities in his/her group. If you do not get response within a week, you should contact your advisor for assistance to help 'grease the wheels'.

3. Meeting with professors to discuss your interests, courses, experience, possible projects, and time commitments.

4. Follow up. Approximately a week after you have finished your first round of talks, try to reduce your list to 2-3 choices. Make another appointment to speak to those faculty members. Indicate which projects interest you most.

5. Choose a project. A couple of days after you've completed your second round of talks, pick a faculty member and project. Make an appointment with that faculty member to close the deal. Be prepared to give your research director your schedule.

6. Enroll for credit.

  • See Academic Credit for Research Experience for more information.
  • Note: All students must submit a new Research Proposal Form for each term in which they will receive credit (the most current form is available on the Undergraduate Studies Forms page).

To comply with UA and CBC safety policies, all students working in labs must attend the Risk Management General Laboratory Chemical Hygiene Training (i.e., Lab Safety Training) course AND the Responsible Conduct in Research workshop prior to starting their lab work. Done through D2L.

Finding a project works the same way as explained above. However, you do not enroll for credit. If you will only be volunteering (not enrolled for credit) you should have a Volunteer Agreement Form on file with the Department (the most current form is available on the Undergraduate Studies Forms page).

Students are responsible for making their own arrangements. Signing up for credit for independent study requires the student to prepare a description of the proposed project and have a signed agreement by your research mentor.

Enrollment for research units is completed by a CBC advisor in Chemistry/Commons, 314, and requires a completed proposal form found on the Undergraduate Studies Forms Page.

  • 199, 299, 399, 499, 599, 699, 799* Independent Study: (Credit varies) Qualified students working on an individual basis with professors who have agreed to supervise such work. Grades available: S, P, F, I, W
  • 199H, 299H, 399H, 499H Independent Study - Honors: (Credit varies) Qualified students working on an individual basis with professors who have agreed to supervise such work. Grades available: A, B C, D, E, I, W
  • 392(H), 492(H) Directed Research: (Credit varies) Qualified students working on an individual basis with professors who have agreed to supervise such work. Students may register for a maximum of 12 directed research units. Grades available A, B, C, D, E, I
  • Graduate students doing independent work that cannot be classified as actual research will register for credit under course number 599, 699, or 799

1. Determination of credit: A minimum of 45 hours of course work for each unit of credit awarded.

2. The number of credits of Independent Study must be within the approved credit range listed in the catalog course description.

3. Expectations. At the beginning of the semester, the project advisor will explain to the student the expected learning outcomes of the directed research project; the expected scope of reading, lab or field work; the expected work products and the criteria to be used for evaluation and grading. 

The proposal form must be signed by the research advisor and the student and submitted to the Program Coordinator in the CBC advising office on the first day of classes (this is a departmental deadline).

Completion of graded research units requires a written report to be prepared by the student to be submitted to the research advisor. A copy of the report should be forwarded by the student to the CBC Undergraduate Advising Office. The report in general follows a scientific manuscript format, with length determined by the research advisor. 

The final letter grade for the graded research units is assigned by the instructor of record (i.e. the project advisor), taking into account the overall research performance of the student and the evaluation of the end-of-semester report.  

4.    It is the policy of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry that students enrolled in an Individual courses such as Senior Thesis/Capstone, Directed Research, Independent Student and Preceptor units cannot be paid for the same hours as lab work. Therefore, academic credit can be awarded only for faculty-approved academic work as defined by department policy, whereas, paid laboratory work must follow university or programmatic policies for student employment.

5. Students should enroll within the first three weeks of the Fall and Spring Semesters or immediately after the beginning of Winter or Summer Sessions. Students must complete the required 45 hours of course work per credit unit before the last day of the term. The last day to register for Independent Study in Fall and Spring Semesters without incurring a late charge is the same as for all other courses. See University of Arizona information on Deadlines and Tuition and Fees - Late Payment Charge

6. If registration for an Independent Study course occurs after the twenty-first day of the regular semester, after the first two days of Winter Session or Pre-session, or after the first week of a Summer Session, the Undergraduate Program Coordinator must sign the Change of Schedule form, in addition to the instructor.

7. If a grade of Incomplete is awarded for an Independent Study course at the end of the term, another Project Advisor must be identified who agrees to evaluate the student’s work, should the original Project Advisor become unavailable.

8. Questions: Contact an Academic Advisor

The Senior Capstone in Chemistry and Biochemistry is required for the Bachelor of Science degree and is designed to provide the student with laboratory research experience. Participation in research helps in choosing careers, develops mentoring relationships with faculty and other members of research groups, and is the best way to learn science. Students in the Honors College must use the senior capstone thesis toward both the Chemistry and Biochemistry degree and for the required Honors Thesis. Additionally these students must participate in the CBC Undergraduate Poster Fair held in the Spring Semester. A minimum of two semesters of laboratory work (including a minimum of 6 units total of CHEM/BIOC 498(h))credit is required, which begins during a student’s penultimate semester. It is usually comprised of focused research work, followed by a semester of writing a thesis. Students who choose not to complete the Senior Capstone in Biochemistry can still obtain a degree in Biochemistry, however, they must switch to a Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry (talk to your academic advisor).

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As a scientific researcher, the most rewarding experience is to take advantage of opportunities to present your findings to the community!


In addition to funds, your research advisor may be able to provide for your conference attendance, the following programs may also be accessed for additional funding, especially if you plan to present your research findings.


You can participate in an internship anytime during your academic career, and it could be a nice way to "try out" a job or ease the transition into a job after graduation.

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The MARC Program is a unique research, mentoring, financial and academic opportunity for undergraduates belonging to a group considered underrepresented in biomedical research and who have the interest and potential to pursue a PhD or combined PhD (e.g. MD/PhD) degree. The program is a two-year program intended for the last two years of a student’s enrollment at the University of Arizona. 

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If Interested in This Program, Contact:

Olivia Mendoza
Phone: (520) 621-3868
Email: omendoza@arizona.edu