Developing and Maintaining a Successful Undergraduate Research Program
Professors and research advisors have always endeavored to make the opportunity to gain new knowledge available to their students. However, new knowledge takes different forms. From a student perspective, it comes from reading textbooks and primary literature or attending classes and seminars. Professors share in these activities with their students, but they know that physically taking part in the acquisition of new knowledge through active research is where the true excitement begins. For many, if not all, faculty members research is the source of passion for chemistry, and sharing it with a rising generation of chemists often comprises a substantial part of the decision to pursue a career in the field of undergraduate education. These chapters and additional ones provide starting points for developing such a culture at the department level. In several cases the starting point is redesigning introductory or research methods courses to place a stronger emphasis on authentic research and its associated skills. In other cases the establishment of a thriving research group by one faculty member is the catalyst for initiating the departmental transformation.
There are also several examples of how to set up an undergraduate research group in departments that place a heavy emphasis on research, and those that place less emphasis on research. Many of these offer roadmaps for developing interdisciplinary research groups or translating resource-intensive graduate-level research to an environment that is resource-restrictive. In still other cases the research has an experiential learning component. For many of the above examples the departmental/institutional role is not always obvious and may not be influential or important. This is a reminder that undergraduate research need not be "institutional" to be successful.