The Honors Program in Chemistry

The department recognizes that you will become well-versed in chemistry with or without completing a thesis. If you feel you will have the commitment and the dedication that a thesis requires, we encourage you to begin your consideration by speaking to any member of the department. Early in each spring semester, we make available a list of those faculty who will be supervising theses during the following academic year. In a poster session held during one of the regular weekly chemistry seminars, current senior thesis students present their work.  Although the entire campus is invited, we extend a special invitation to majors in the junior class so they can explore the research going on in the department.  After this poster session, junior majors are asked to express their intent to write a thesis.  Interested students will write a one-page statement, which is typically due just before Spring Break, outlining their reasons for wanting to pursue honors research, what they hope to gain from the thesis experience, and the areas of chemistry they find most interesting.  The department seeks to distribute thesis students evenly among those faculty supervising thesis work to make for a much better thesis experience for both faculty and students. We will inform students of their laboratory assignments near the end of March. In the past, we have been able to extend an invitation for honors students to begin their thesis research the summer before their senior year. We expect to be able to continue this tradition, which has typically included a stipend for 8 weeks of work. (Working fewer than 8 weeks is also an option in many cases.) The choice of beginning in the summer or in the fall is completely up to you, and the thesis experience is a great one no matter which you choose.

Current areas of research in the department are: inorganic and hybrid materials synthesis; biological fluorescence and single-molecule spectroscopy; proteostasis - balancing protein synthesis and degradation; high resolution molecular spectroscopy of jet-cooled species; ab initio, quantum chemical calculation of molecular properties and intermolecular interactions; biochemical characterization of protein tyrosine phosphatases; design and synthesis of allosteric enzyme inhibitors and activators; investigation of the protein folding landscape of kinetically stabilized proteins; development of hydrogen exchange mass spectrometry methodology to monitor protein folding and dynamics; the design and synthesis of self-assembling organic nanostructures; and computational assessment of rapid amide-bond cleavage; organometallic catalyst design and polymer synthesis; light-initiated charge and energy transfer in nanoscale systems. 

A candidate for the degree with Honors will elect CHEM 498 and 499D in the senior year.  Honors programs for exceptional interests, including interdisciplinary study, can be arranged on an individual basis by the departmental advisor.  Honors candidates attend the Chemistry seminar during their junior and senior years, participating in it actively in the senior year.  In particular, each honors candidate will make a 15 to 20-minute oral presentation to the department describing the nature of the honors project in a fall seminar session.  In the spring, each thesis student will present a poster of their research in a session attended by chemistry majors in their junior year who are considering pursuing a thesis in the department.