CHM499Y Introduction to Research in Chemistry

CHM 499Y is an upper-level course that presents students with an experimental or theoretical research problem under the supervision of a departmental teaching-stream or tenure-stream faculty member. The course is a required component of several specialist programs and is strongly recommended in the programs for which it is not required. Students are expected to spend approximately 240 hours in total during the Fall and Winter semesters on their problem (the course is not offered during the summer). Research progress is assessed partway through the project via a mid-year review conducted between the student and the supervisor in December. Students are required to submit a thesis at the end of the Winter semester reporting the findings of their research project that is evaluated by their research supervisor and an additional faculty member. They also present their work in the form of a research poster that is showcased and evaluated by two judges at the CHM 499Y undergraduate poster session held in March each year.

A distinguishing feature from the 200- and 300-level chemistry research courses is a series of professional development workshops in CHM 499Y focusing on literature searching, preparation of graduate school/job applications, and oral/written communication skills (the latter workshops are designed with a view to preparing students to write their thesis and present their poster). Attendance at departmental colloquia, particularly in the sub-discipline of the student’s chosen research field, is expected.  Students are highly encouraged to additionally attend and present their research at the Southern Ontario Undergraduate Student Chemistry Conference (SOUSCC). Enrolment in this course is limited and application for admission should be made to the Department in the preceding Winter semester (see below).
Application Process

The application form (PDF) may be filled out electronically and submitted to the undergraduate office (the deadline is the final day of classes in the Winter semester each year: for Winter 2022 this is Friday 8th April). Projects in the areas of environmental, computational, analytical, physical, inorganic, materials, organic and biological chemistry are typically offered. Students are encouraged to visit the websites of faculty members prior to submission of their applications to get some ideas of research opportunities and to indicate their choice of areas of interest on the application form.
Once all applications have been submitted to the undergraduate office, they are reviewed by the departmental Undergraduate Studies Committee (USC). Although an applicants’ cGPA (and specifically grades in chemistry courses) are important selection criteria, so is personal input from the USC members (note that a minimum cGPA of 3.0 is an admission requirement). Students are informed whether they have been admitted to CHM 499Y during the summer, and if successful they are required to speak with potential faculty members about supervision possibilities. When this information has been collected by the undergraduate office for each student, supervisor-student assignments are made during August, and research activities can begin during September after a mandatory safety training session has taken place.