The Vassar chemistry faculty pursue research in a wide variety of chemistry subdisciplines, ranging from the study of biologically active compounds with X-ray crystallographic methods to the investigation of the molecular origins of protein folding and stability. In keeping with the college’s emphasis on the use of original sources in teaching, the faculty open their research laboratories to students. It is the department’s belief that the research experience provides students with essential skills and insights with which to pursue a career in science, and more broadly, is also excellent training for nonscientific careers such as law and teaching.
Research opportunities are available to students at all levels of the curriculum for intensive credit or for pay through college-supported and externally funded research positions. The department’s firm belief in the value of original research for students is evident in the requirement that all chemistry majors write a senior thesis which presents the results of their senior year independent research projects. The collaboration between faculty and chemistry students on original research projects at all stages of the student’s undergraduate career creates a unique environment where students become scholars and scholars learn from their students.
At all levels of the curriculum, students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty and to become proficient in the use of modern instrumentation and chemical methodologies. As early as the first year, students are encouraged to participate in original research for course credit. Intensive credit may be obtained by completing CHEM 198, CHEM 291, CHEM 298, CHEM 399 or CHEM 300.
Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI)
Chemistry faculty also participate in Vassar’s Undergraduate Research Summer Institute, U.R.S.I. This ten-week paid internship program matches students who have an interest in pursuing research with Vassar science faculty mentors. Approximately 50 Vassar students participate in the program every summer, of whom ten on average are chemistry students. The program culminates in a research symposium held at Vassar in the fall and frequently leads to students co-authoring research papers with faculty. For more information, view URSI projects in Chemistry on the URSI website.