Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Undergraduate research is available either through Chem 81/82 research credit, or as paid summer/academic year research assistants.

Also available are several sholarship programs:

1. The Robert R. Dewald Summer Scholarship Award

2. Tufts Beckman Scholars Program in the chemical and biological sciences.

3. Tufts Summer Scholars Program

4. Mixer Direct Chemical Engineering Scholarship

PLEASE NOTE: Not all available undergraduate research opportunities are listed below. Please feel free to inquire with any faculty with whom you have an interest in doing research.


Prof. Kenny

I have space for a couple of motivated students to do research in my laboratory.   Our research involves the use of spectroscopic methods to probe the environment in order to detect, identify and quantify various analytes. In the past, we have focused on using laser illumination of the sample using fiber optics, and detected the resulting fluorescence. This gives good sensitivity and some selectivity for aromatic organics.  We are extending our capabilities to detect other species, including organic chlorides and metals, by developing improved fluorescence methods and other techniques such as Raman spectroscopy and infrared, near-infrared, and UV-visible absorption spectroscopy.  It is helpful for students to have completed analytical and physical chemistry courses before undertaking this work; a good mathematical background is also essential.  A two-semester commitment is required.


Prof. Kounaves

Undergraduate research students who join my group participate as part of an interdisciplinary team along side graduate students on a variety of research projects at the boundaries of chemistry, geochemistry, planetary science, and astrobiology. Descriptions of current research projects can be found at: http://planetary.chem.tufts.edu/research.html.  

I usually accept 1-2 undergrads per year via Chem 81/82 or the appropriate research credit in their respective department. Paid summer assistantships are also sometimes available.  Prerequisite: Quantitative Analysis (Chem 42), or junior/senior class standing in geology, physics or biology.


Prof. Kumar

Undergraduate students in my group will work closely with graduate students; post doctoral research associates; and the principal investigator. Our group is involved in a multi-disciplinary research effort utilizing the techniques of synthetic organic chemistry, cell biology, biophysics, materials science and recombinant DNA technology to develop novel methods for the rational design and construction of artificial proteins, novel therapeutics, cellular imaging reagents. Research projects in the laboratory deal with various aspects of peptide architecture, protein folding and stability, the origin of life, catalyst design, in vitro models for infection and disease, mammalian cell-surface engineering, glycobiology and nanochemistry. There is no imposed course requirement, but a strong background in organic chemistry and/or biochemistry is required.


Prof. Lin

We use computational tools such as molecular dynamics simulations and small molecule docking to understand and engineer biomolecules like proteins, sugars and drug-like molecules. For more information please visit our website at http://ase.tufts.edu/chemistry/lin/index.html. For Tufts undergraduate students (freshmen or sophomores) who are interested in the Lin group, please schedule a meeting with me via email at yu-shan.lin@tufts.edu


Prof. Robbat

We develop instruments, data analysis software, and methods to detect hazardous chemicals in the environment and in food. Projects include probes that can detect pollutants in the subsurface (soil and groundwater) at hazardous waste sites without bringing sample to the surface, monitor chemical threats in the air at airports, train stations, and tunnels, and pesticides in food products. Research aimed at providing complete chemical profiles of food products (fruits, vegetables, and beverages) to understand how we smell, taste, and can extend shelf life.

I have room for a couple of undergraduates in my group. Students interested in doing research must have completed at least two years of chemistry, including Chem 42, and have an interest in the development of analytical instrumentation and methods aimed at analyzing environmentally and biologically important compounds.


Prof. Rybak-Akimova

The major areas of our research are coordination, supramolecular and bioinorganic chemistry, with the main objects being transition metal macrocyclic complexes. One of the current projects is aimed at obtaining a new family of molecular tweezers capable of selective 2-center and 3-center substrate binding. These molecules are of great promise for creating new redox catalysts and new switchable receptors for biological substrates. Another project includes investigation of a spatial self-organization (pattern formation) in reaction-diffusion systems, in particular, using diffusion of O2 from the gas phase into solution followed by chemical reactions in the liquid phase. 

It is expected that undergraduate researchers will be involved primarily in the synthesis and characterization of organic and inorganic compounds, including air-sensitive compounds. Other areas of concentration, such as kinetic measurements, and computational modeling, are also possible.

Prerequisites/Corequisites: Chem 1 and Chem 2 with labs for pattern formation project; Chem 51, 52 for synthetic projects; Chem 31 for kinetic studies; Chem 32 for molecular modeling.  Enrollment in Chem 61 will be expected from the students involved in a long-term project.


Prof. Shultz

There are several projects in my laboratory for undergraduate participation. These range from one that has potential global impact to one with strong macroscopic-molecular level visual connection.

The global impact is connected with cleaning water. World-wide, half the hospital beds are occupied by people suffering from diseases resulting from lack of safe drinking water. The Shultz group is working on developing a photocatalyst that uses readily available sunlight and environmentally benign materials to turn pollutants into harmless CO2 and water. Heavy metal pollutants are reduced to less dangerous form. The basic working material is TiO2 – familiar as the white coloration in tooth paste or salad dressing. To be a viable material, the photo efficiency must hit 15%. Our progress has raised the native 1% efficiency to 8%; only another factor of two is needed. Students in this project are involved in synthesis, kinetic analysis, and spectroscopic probe development and use. Previous students are coauthors on high-impact papers and have traveled to China to confer with our Chinese collaborators.

The visual connection project investigates the fundamental interactions between hydrogen-bonded molecules: water, acids, and ions. The visual connection is seen most strongly in understanding how ice grows from the melt. Etching an ice surface produces negative crystals with a shape that is directly linked to the molecular arrangement in the crystal. Despite the fact that ice has been around for a long time, and been the subject of numerous studies, the surface energy of ice is not well understood. Our visual connection is beginning to reveal the surface energy. Students involved in this project have built unique apparatus, developed novel environments for probing water-solute interactions, and coauthored several papers.


Prof. Utz

Physical and Materials Chemistry - Research in my group reveals the molecular-level choreography of chemical reactions occurring at the interface of a gas and a solid surface.  We use an array of experimental techniques to uncover the key molecular motions that transform reactants into surface-bound reaction products.  Undergraduate students working in the group work closely with other group members on important aspects of the project.  Work typically involves the use and design of electronic, mechanical, and optical instruments including lasers, computer interfacing and control, and the acquisition and analysis of experimental data.

I am also interested in working with a student to design and refine new laboratory exercises for the undergraduate physical chemistry lab.  Many of these exercises will use newly acquired equipment.  The goal of the work will be to generate working laboratory exercises for the second semester laboratory. I will accept up to one student per project next year.