CCNY DCB Undergrad Research FAQ

If you are an undergraduate student interested in conducting research in chemistry or biochemistry, and have questions, you’re in the right place – read on for answers!

Q: How do I get started finding opportunities for undergraduate research that interest me?

Check out the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry faculty profiles here. Filter by Category – Faculty. Then browse through the many excellent faculty in our department. For each faculty member, explore their CCNY profile page as well as their separate lab website (where applicable), paying attention to publications – this will help you learn what type of research the lab has done in the past and/or is currently doing.

The Department is also setting up a list of faculty who are currently seeking undergraduate researchers to join their labs – watch this space for more details…

Q: What if I find a faculty mentor from outside the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department? 

On occasion our undergraduate students are pursuing research projects with faculty members from Biology, Chemical Engineering, or the CUNY School of Medicine. You may still register for Honors or Independent Study as long as you fulfill all of the usual requirements.

Q: OK, I found a few labs that look exciting – what should I do next?

You should reach out to the faculty member directly by email. Be professional! This means the following: start with a greeting to the professor, introduce yourself, express the reasons for your interest in a few sentences, ask if the professor is open to new students and would be willing to meet with you, and sign off with your full name and student ID number. Attach a transcript including your relevant coursework. If you have a curriculum vitae (CV), include that too; if you need help preparing one, try the CCNY Writing Center. Hopefully you hear back soon, but if not, write a polite follow-up email in 7-10 days.

Your goal should be to set up a meeting with the professor to discuss possible research projects in their lab. This may be independent (on a totally new project), or collaborative (working with another current student or postdoc in the lab). Come prepared to ask questions, both scientific and practical. And get excited about doing cutting-edge chemistry research with your own two hands!

Q: Can I get course credit for undergraduate research?

A: Yes! There are two main options: Honors Research or Independent Study. For Honors Research, you must complete 3 consecutive semesters of research (3 credits each) to graduate “with Honors”. For Independent Study, you may take as many semesters as you like with flexible number of credits (1-4 credits each). You can find more details here.

Q: How do the logistics of registering for Honors or Independent Study differ compared with regular courses?

Undergraduate research courses involve an agreement between you and your faculty mentor, so the mentor needs to email our course coordinator (Prof. Urs Jans, ujans@ccny.cuny.edu ), with a copy to you, indicating willingness to supervise. Prof. Jans will then notify the CCNY Registrar and get you signed up under the name of the professor who will assign your grade.

Q: What if I don’t want or need course credit, but still want to do research?

A: There are other options! You can volunteer in a lab. In some particular cases, you may be able to receive pay from the lab. You can discuss with professors whose labs you are interested in.

Q: I’m busy during the fall and spring semesters, but would love to do research at other times of year including the summer. Are there options for me?

A: Yes! You can register for Honors Research or Independent Study for the summer. In some cases, you may do the same during the winter term. Just be sure to plan well in advance by contacting a professor, as noted above. There are also several relevant summer undergraduate programs at CCNY, some of which even pay you a generous stipend and offer training opportunities to help you develop a future research career:

  • B3 Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) 
  • CCNY Opportunities in Research and Creative Arts (ORCA)
  • CCNY STEM Community Summer Research Program (SCRP
  • IDEALS – IDMinNYC Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates

Note that the programs above are accurate as of spring 2023.

Q: When should I start looking for undergraduate research opportunities?

Anytime is a good time to start! That said, there are some key deadlines to keep in mind:

  • Late August: Deadline for Fall registration
  • Late January: Deadline for Spring registration
  • Mid March: Deadline for several Summer programs (see above)

With this in mind, ideally you should reach out to professors by email 1-2 months before these deadlines. For example, if you want to start research in the Fall, you should email professors in June or July. This will give you enough time to find a lab with an opening, make sure it is a good mutual fit, and register on time.

Q: How much time per week should I dedicate to research?

A: You should expect to spend roughly 4 hours per credit per week on research activities. For example, for a 3 credit research class, expect to spend roughly 12 hours per week on research. This is somewhat flexible and may include lab work and/or data analysis on campus, plus data analysis and/or writing at home.

Q: Where can I learn more?

Have a look at this website, including this detailed guide on what to expect for Honors Research and Independent Study.

Last Updated: 04/12/2023 22:02