Undergraduate research abounds in science programs

It's no secret that UNI's undergraduate programs offer students direct access to highly qualified and talented faculty, but in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry it's a particular point of pride.

A UNI chemistry/biochemistry student gives a demonstration.

Students in any of the department's five degree programs, including a B.A. or B.S. in chemistry or biochemistry or B.A. in chemistry-teaching, have the opportunity to get involved in research with faculty as undergraduates. In contrast, many larger universities offer research opportunities mainly to upperclassmen or graduate students, giving UNI students invaluable research experience much earlier in their academic careers than peers at other institutions.

It's a major factor as to why the program is one of the top undergraduate programs in the nation. Graduates of the program, like Matt Graaf, '10, have even shared stories about how friends in other universities' science programs are impressed by the amount of interaction UNI students have with their professors.

Bill Harwood, professor and chemistry and biochemistry department head, says that UNI's program emphasizes small classes and close engagement with faculty. "We all know the students in our program well, and this helps us direct opportunities to our students that helps them grow as professionals and as individuals."

Collaboration between students and faculty doesn't end in the classroom or the lab. Many students are co-authors on published research papers and several have been co-inventors in patent applications. Students also are afforded the opportunity to attend and present their research at symposiums and American Chemical Society conferences.

Graduates with chemistry or biochemistry degrees can be found in a wide variety of fields from forensic science to pharmaceutics to high school or postsecondary teaching. Many students take advantage of internship opportunities with industry partners in the region and across the nation. Some use their degree as a springboard into professional programs like medicine, law, research, nursing or dentistry. In fact, nearly 100 percent of B.S. chemistry and biochemistry majors who applied to medical school have been accepted.

Chelsea Meier, a senior biology and chemistry double major, plans to pursue emergency medicine. Meier describes the faculty in her program as incredibly knowledgeable, patient and the best in the world. "The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is my second home, and the thought of leaving here after my final summer of research is honestly sadder than leaving home to attend UNI ever was."

For more information about the majors, minors and courses in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, visit www.chem.uni.edu/.