Enhanced Experiences for Chemistry Majors

Presider: Richard Bauer

The first speaker in this session, Clare Muhoro, described environmental research projects for undergraduates (“Laboratory and field studies of the fate of N-methylcarbamate pesticides in tropical environments”). She discussed sample collection at tropical field sites in Ecuador and subsequent analysis of the fate of pesticides used in those locales. During the next presentation Sean Mo described undergraduate students’ engagement in renewable energy research at Alma College. Of particular interest is the synthesis and study of compound use in dye-sensitized solar cells (“Theoretical study and synthesis of novel organic compound for dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs): Implementation in undergraduate renewable energy research”).

In her presentation entitled “Development of project based laboratory experience culminating in an independent project in undergraduate biochemistry,” Jessica Davis described laboratory projects used throughout the semester to replace one-week stand alone experiments. Emphasis is placed on hypothesis-based project design and development their own procedural plans. The biochemical kits used by students can be a problem when student designed experiments fail. Many solutions have to be prepared on the fly to accommodate student mistakes.

Katherine Kantardjieff was the next speaker, presenting “The Center for Molecular Structure: A remotely enabled diffraction collaborator in the California State University.” Housed at the California State Polytechnic University Pomona, The Keck Center for Molecular Structure provides for crystallographic analysis for students and researchers from remote locations. The author described some of the software, networking, and social media tools used to enable remote analysis of samples sent in from a variety of disciplines.

In her presentation on “Motivating students in the instrumental analysis course with mini-research projects,” Ramee Indralingam described student projects that replace traditional unknown analysis experiments. The mini-projects involve analysis of food products and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. Students develop their own experimental design and instrumental parameters after some general guidelines communicated by the instructor.

The final talk of the session was presented by Jose Cabrera, Iyan Lazik, Madeline Adamczeski, and John Song from San Jose City College. In their presentation entitled “Learning chemistry through undergraduate research and presentations at symposia both on-campus and professional conferences,” they described their ambitious efforts to engage community college students in undergraduate research. The on-campus event includes a biannual chemistry poster presentation attended by students, faculty, administrators, and staff from across the institution. The authors also described the student experience presenting at the 239th ACS meeting in San Francisco. Using the Student Assessment of Learning Gains and other assessment tools, they found that students benefited from the experiences in many ways.