CHEM 450, Research in Chemistry, is the capstone course for chemistry majors. It is also the writing intensive course for the chemistry major. The student, with the guidance of a faculty advisor or internship mentor, will plan and execute a research project. The student will have the opportunity to work on a long-term project that if successful could lead to a presentation at a scientific meeting or a publication in a scientific journal.


All chemistry majors in the traditional, biochemical and environmental tracks need to take at least four credits of CHEM 450, Research in Chemistry. These four credits should be spread over at least 2 semesters. The student should ideally start this project in his or her junior year.


The requirements for this course may be met with an approved external internship. See your advisor for details.



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CHEM 207, 207L, 209, 209L, 315, 315L, 316, 316L or approval of department

Approval of the Chemistry Department is required for enrollment in this course



Students may do their research projects either at Shepherd or at an external laboratory. If a project is to be done in an external lab it must be pre-approved by the Chemistry Department.

The topic of the research will be agreed on in advance by the student and advisor. Several students may work on the same project but all reports and presentations are done on an individual basis.

You will be expected to work 3 hrs/ week per credit. That is, if you sign up for 1 credit hour you will be expected to be in the lab 3 hrs per week. The class hours will be scheduled on an individual basis. However, you may NEVER work alone in the lab or on any experiment that your advisor has not approved. You should meet with your advisor every week so that he/she can provide guidance.

If your project is not done at Shepherd University you and your external mentor will determine your hours. If you choose to do your research at an external lab you must first arrange for a mentor at that lab who can coordinate with your research advisor at Shepherd. The project must be approved by your research advisor before you start working. You should regularly report on your progress to your advisor at Shepherd.





The experiments that you will be doing will often be unfamiliar to you so you should be especially careful to determine possible dangers before starting. Read all MSDS sheets for the materials that you will use. Do not do a new experiment without first checking it out with your advisor. Be sure that you understand the hazards associated with your equipment before you start an experiment. Do not be afraid to ask questions. SAFETY GOGGLES OR GLASSES MUST BE WORN AT ALL TIMES.


If you work in an external laboratory you are expected to follow all of the rules that apply in that lab.


As part of your reports you must list and discuss all of the safety hazards associated with your research. You must also discuss the proper disposal of the chemicals that you use. This information can usually be found on the MSDS sheets.




A student working in an external laboratory will follow the rules for notebooks at that lab.


The following guidelines apply to students working at Shepherd.

A lab notebook should be a complete record of the work done in the lab. All data, even for experiments that failed, are important. The notebook is a record of what you did written in enough detail so that someone else could repeat it. Reference to a written procedure is OK as long as you make note of the source and record all observations.

Every page of a notebook should be dated and signed. All data should be recorded directly in the notebook. Plan ahead so that numerical data can be entered in carefully labeled tables. All notebook entries should be clearly labeled

Notebooks may seem unimportant but they are a record of the work that was done and in many businesses and organizations they are required proof of invention, etc.

Your notebook should include the names disk file used. Important plots can be pasted or taped into your notebook.

Remember that, anyone should be able to reconstruct your work based on the notebook.

A good notebook will make your job much easier when it is time to write up your progress and final reports.

Your notebook must be reviewed periodically by your research advisor i and will be used in the determination of your grade. The evaluation will be done either by your advisor at Shepherd, or by your external mentor, if you work at a lab outside of Shepherd.




Students may choose any project that can be done in our laboratories and for which a faculty member agrees to be a mentor. In the case of an internship in an external lab the project must be pre-approved by the Shepherd Chemistry faculty. If the research is done at an external lab, the mentor in the outside lab must agree to assist in guiding the student in the research. Students are encouraged to work together in group projects but all students in a group must have clearly identified tasks. Students will normally be expected to select a topic related to their area of specialization (traditional chemistry, biochemistry or environmental chemistry). All reports will be done on an individual basis.





A progress report is due at midterm.




All students will be expected to submit a written report twice each semester. One report is due at midterm and the other at the beginning of Final's Week. Initially you will not have many experimental results but you can describe the goals and approach for the project. You should also discuss all of the safety issues associated with your research in an appendix. Also include instructions for proper disposal of the chemicals that you use. You can also begin to include some of the graphics that will be in the final report. Each report after the first should build on previous reports. You should be treating each report as if it is a draft of the final report that you will submit at the end of the project.


The report should include the following sections.


1. Abstract 50 to 100 words


2. Introduction - Describe the goals of the project. Discuss important background information on the topic. Appropriate figures of important reactions, molecules and instrumentation should be included. This section should include many references to appropriate literature. Use a standard method for citing literature. See your mentor to learn how to find and cite literature references.


3. Experimental - give details about each experiment. These should be complete enough so that someone could reproduce your work. The Experimental section should include descriptions of all experiments even if they were not successful. All experimental apparatus should be completely described and pictures and block diagrams should be included when possible. All data collected should be included either in hardcopy or disk form. For students working in an external lab, the data and details submitted will have to be approved for release by your mentor.


4. Results - This section includes tables of data, spectra, chromatograms, photographs, etc., and a discussion of how they should be interpreted. Appropriate statistical tools should be used whenever possible for data analysis. See your advisor or mentor for advice.


5. Conclusions - This section is a summary of the results with general conclusions.


6. References - All appropriate references should be cited. Use a format similar to that used in a scientific journal. See your advisor or mentor for details.


7. Appendix I List and discuss all of the safety hazards associated with the reagents, instruments and equipment that you use in the research


Midterm Reports submitted late will be penalized one letter grade for the semester.

Final Reports submitted late will be penalized one letter grade for the semester.




At the end of each project the student will be required to give an oral presentation of his or her results. This presentation should last about 15 minutes and will be followed by questions from the faculty. The presentation should be prepared in Powerpoint format. A preliminary version of the presentation must be provided to your advisor six weeks before the presentation. The preliminary version can be very sketchy but should include proposed slides for all of the topics that you will include in the presentation.

The final version of the presentation must be provided to your advisor at least one weak before your presentation. Failure to meet any of these dealines will result will result in the loss of one letter grade.

The presentation of a paper or poster at an approved scientific meeting may be used as a substitute for the final oral presentation.




The final written report will follow the same guidelines given above for other reports. You should submit a detailed outline of the final presentation to your advisor six weeks before it is due. The final presentation is due one week before the final oral presentation. Reports submitted late will be penalized one letter grade.



Grades will be based on the following criteria.


For midterm and reports other than the final report.


1. Amount and quality of the work done.

2. Clarity of and completeness of preliminary written reports. See above for guidelines.

3. Clarity and completeness of the notebook.


For final written reports


1. Amount and quality of the work done.

2. Clarity of and completeness of written reports and notebooks. See above for guidelines.

3. Completeness of literature references

4. Appropriate use of statistical methods

5. Presentation of plots, graphs, tables, pictures, diagrams, etc.


For final oral presentation


1. Clarity of oral presentation

2. Completeness of oral presentation

3. Demonstrated understanding of material presented

4. Ability to answer questions related to the oral presentation.