Undergraduate Research Opportunities

The descriptions of undergraduate research projects given here have been supplied by Department of Chemistry faculty who are interested in having undergraduates work in their research groups. The list is not meant to be complete; other faculty certainly may welcome undergraduate research participants as well. Students interested in working on one of these projects or on similar projects should contact the appropriate faculty member directly. Once a research mentor has been selected, a student should contact Prof. Walensky (walenskyj@missouri.edu) about enrolling in the appropriate research course (Chem 2950, 4950, or 4990H/4991H) if he/she wishes to obtain academic credit for the work.

Faculty Research Descriptions

We are interested in problems that span materials science, chemistry, physics, and biology. Approaching such broad areas of interest requires focus. From the generic area of problems, we focus our attention on two well-defined programs:
(i) the tailoring of colloidal nanocrystals as labels for bio-detection and as clean catalysts for sustainable energy
(ii) the design of environmentally-friendly deep eutectic solvents as "water-mimicking" fluids for stabilizing biomolecules and nanomaterials

Research in the Broderick lab focuses on broadband rotational spectroscopic probes of chemistry taking place in astrochemical ices.  Currently this lab is under development and initial work will largely involve programming and instrument design and construction.  Once completed, this apparatus will be applied to understand molecular complexity in the interstellar medium.  Specific aims include experiments focused on gaining insight into the nature of the enantiomeric excess observed on earth, as well as the use of rotational spectroscopy to probe exotic molecules synthesized in ices that are not easily generated in the gas phase.  We welcome undergraduate students with an interest in physical chemistry, astrochemistry, and chemical physics to join us. 

Undergraduate research in the Brorsen group focuses on Computational Chemistry, which employs computers to solve chemical problems. No previous experience with computational chemistry is needed. Current opportunities include projects related to determining the composition of the interstellar medium (i.e., what molecules exist in space) and the benchmarking of computational methods for metal-hydride systems in an effort to design more efficient energy-storage processes.

Dr. Greenlief is on leave for the 2023-2024 academic year at the National Science Foundation and is not accepting new undergraduate research students.

In our laboratory, experimental work is being conducted in the area of mass spectrometry. We develop new mass spectrometry-based methods to determine the bioactive components from dietary botanical supplements. We are also interested in biological systems at the protein level, as well as, quantitatively measuring directed metabolites in a variety of matrices.

The Greenlief Group welcomes undergraduate research students and believes that research laboratory experiences are an invaluable part of your education. It is not necessary for you to have the research skills prior to becoming a member of this Research Group; we will gladly train you.

Undergraduate research in the Harmata group often simply starts with a student shadowing a graduate student for a bit while learning techniques necessary to do synthetic organic chemistry.  It depends on experience one has had.  Organic synthesis is often called both an art and a science.  My group is interested in designing and studying new organic reactions and using them to make structures that may have interest in the “real world,”  Currently we are focusing on the (4+3) cycloaddition reactions of oxidopyridinium ions and the reaction of various organometallics with cyclobutenones.  I have published papers with undergraduates and sent some on to PhD programs, MD programs, and yes, even JD programs!  Research is demanding, but it is also rewarding.  It builds character.  It can be great fun, or disappointing.  Learning to live with these realities and learning how to face them and work around them is great training for work in science and life in general.

Research in Dr. MacDonald’s Archaeological Chemistry lab at the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR) focuses on the use of instrumental methods in analytical chemistry to study an array of topics in art and archaeology. Research topics include:

-compositional analysis of materials such as pigments, glazes, pottery/clay, stone, metallurgy, and glass (neutron activation analysis, X-ray fluorescence, mass spectrometry)

-isotopic analysis for the reconstruction of human migrations and mobility (Sr, Nd, Pb)

-structural and molecular characterization of materials using microanalysis (electron microscopy, IR/Raman spectroscopy)

-statistical interpretation of multivariate and multi-proxy datasets for provenance studies and network analysis

Undergraduate members of our lab learn fundamental skills in sample preparation, radiation physics, and quantitative analysis using various techniques. If you are interested in joining the Archaeological Chemistry group as a research assistant or to conduct an independent study project, please get in touch at MacDonaldB@Missouri.edu

The Outlaw Lab employs a combination of organic synthesis, chemical biology, and biophysical techniques to create molecular architectures as tools to study and therapeutics to treat human disease. Current areas of focus include:

  1. The development of synthetic methods to access highly substituted aromatic and heteroaromatic molecules
  2. The development of new methods to promote peptide folding and assembly
  3. The identification and disruption of molecular interactions underlying viral protein function

Undergraduates are initially paired with a graduate student mentor to gain training in small molecule organic synthesis and peptide synthesis techniques. Upon demonstrating proficiency, students are encouraged to propose and explore independent projects.

Undergraduate students can work on helping to develop advanced electrode materials for batteries and water treatment. A project might entail data mining to identify overarching trends in electrochemical properties of organic materials to inform material design for these applications.

Stevens' Summer Research Fellowships Application

The Department of Chemistry at the University of Missouri sponsors a summer research program for outstanding undergraduate students not currently attending MU. Applications will be accepted from those presently in their junior year of undergraduate study in chemistry and who are considering graduate studies. Exceptionally talented sophomores will also be considered.