Undergraduate Research

Students learning in a lab

Conducting undergraduate research in chemistry or biochemistry is one of the best ways for students to find out what chemists and biochemists really do, learn new skills, and apply chemistry/biochemistry concepts to cutting-edge research problems. Research experiences help students discover their own interests and strengths and make students more competitive for future employment and admission to graduate school. Students also get the benefit of interacting with other students, graduate students and researchers in the research laboratory setting.

Students who are interested in seeking research opportunities are encouraged to view our list of Research Areas. Students are encouraged to contact faculty members with research in areas of interest to them and request a meeting to learn more about the research and opportunities in their laboratories.

If you have further questions about how to get involved in research, you should also discuss with your advisor or contact Dr. Mike Montague-Smith.

Department Honors Program

Our department honors program provides students the opportunity to deepen their research experience and report their findings in an Honors Thesis. A select group of students enter the department honors program each year as seniors, most building on prior undergraduate research experience in the same laboratory. The program allows students the opportunity to be formally recognized with honors at graduation.

Students interested in the Department Honors Program should discuss with their Undergraduate Research Advisor or with the Chair of the Honors & Awards Committee, Dr. Jason Kahn, jdkahn@umd.edu

Qualifications for the Honors Program

The Honors Program is open to:

  • Chemistry and Biochemistry majors with GPA > 3.0
  • Students who have performed at least two semesters of chemical or biochemical research for a minimum of 3 credits total within the department as CHEM 399
  • Honors candidates must register for CHEM 398 in their final semester at the University.

Honors Thesis

Students in the Honors Program write an Honors Thesis that documents their research and findings. In general, the thesis should include the following sections: Abstract, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion, and References list. Candidates should consult with their advisors for guidance as to the precise format suitable for the specific discipline of the research. The chair of the Honors and Awards Committee can also supply examples of theses from past years.

The thesis is to be submitted to the Honors and Awards Committee in early May, on a specific date to be announced.


About a week after the submission of the written thesis, the honors candidate presents a formal public seminar describing the research, before an audience that includes members of the Honors and Awards Committee. The seminar is also open to the advisor and other members of the research group and friends and family. The seminar should be given as a PowerPoint (or equivalent) presentation.


The seminar is followed immediately by an oral examination before the committee to test the candidate’s depth of understanding of their research. During this period, committee members ask the candidate questions on the results and interpretation of their research, the background relating to the topic, and on relevant topics that were covered in previous Chemistry and/or Biochemistry classes.

The examination typically lasts 30–45 minutes.


Honors candidates are evaluated by the committee based on the research accomplished, the quality of the written thesis and of the seminar, and on their performance in the oral examination. The possible outcomes are high honors, honors, or no honors.


For more information, stop by the Undergraduate Office (CHM 1206), or contact the office by phone (301-405-1791) or email chem-uso@umd.edu.