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. Davis

We make new molecules and develop new materials for sustainable technology. Our interests range from solar cells to OLED displays to quantum computers: places inorganic chemistry can play a role in shaping the world. We seek to answer fundamental questions about molecular and electronic structure that enable enhancements in materials properties such as light absorption, light emission, superconductivity, and catalytic activity. We also develop new strategies for finding materials that possess useful properties.

Undergraduate students interested in learning and doing chemical synthesis, molecular or materials characterization, materials selection and screening, device fabrication, or instrument construction are encouraged to contact me at luke.davis@tufts.edu. Please include a brief description of your research interests and why you want to do research, plus a CV or résumé if you have one; we’ll then find a mutually convenient time to discuss what we might study together!


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. Kritzer

The Kritzer Lab has periodic openings for undergraduate researchers interested in chemical biology.  Chemical biology is the field that investigates biological questions using chemical tools.  No course prerequisites are required, but students will be asked for a considerable time commitment, preferably in large blocks (full days or half days) to dedicate to a research project.  Students should visit the Kritzer Lab website at https://ase.tufts.edu/chemistry/kritzer/kritzerlab1.html  and, if interested contact Prof. Kritzer at joshua.kritzer@tufts.edu


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. Prerequisite: Quantitative Analysis (Chem 42), and junior/senior class standing. A two-semester commitment is required.


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, including molecular dynamics simulations and enhanced sampling methods to understand and design biomolecules like peptides, 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 YSL lab, please schedule a meeting with YSL via email at yu-shan.lin@tufts.edu


Prof. Robbat

Research is aimed at understanding plant-climate interactions and how plant response affects the foods we eat from both a sensory and health beneficial perspective. For example, we have shown that tea from Yunnan Province, China, analyzed before and after the monsoon rains and at high and low elevation (surrogate for temperature) taste sweet and flowery vs. barnyard and hay-like, respectively. We have also shown that antioxidants, caffeine, and other nutraceuticals are higher in concentration before the heavy rains and at high elevation. To measure these metabolic changes we develop instruments, data analysis software, and methods to identify both the volatile (sensory) and nonvolatile (nutraceutical) compounds of interest. For tea, we have identified nearly 800 metabolites by 1D and 2D GC/MS and LC/MS.

Work is in progress to analyze metabolic changes in coffee, berries, hops, essential oils, and other edible crops.  In addition to this project, we have a unique experience for an undergraduate student willing to travel to Costa Rica for 15 days in December/January with the Orians Lab to work on the coffee project. Students that commit to a two-semester research experience (the summer can substitute for one semester), can be trained as a sensory panelists in the Tufts University Sensory and Science Center. Prerequisite: Quantitative Analysis (Chem 42).


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. Sykes

The Sykes group (http://ase.tufts.edu/chemistry/sykes/index.html) utilizes state of the art scanning probes and surface science instrumentation to study technologically important systems. For example, scanning tunneling microscopy enables visualization of the atomic and electronic properties of catalytically relevant metal alloy surfaces at the nanoscale. Using temperature programmed reaction studies of well defined model catalyst surfaces structure-property-activity relationships are drawn. Of particular interest is the addition of individual atoms of a reactive metal to a relatively inert host. In this way reactivity can be tuned, and provided the energetic landscapes are understood, novel bifunctional catalytic systems can be designed with unique properties that include low temperature activation and highly selective chemistry. Newly developed curved single crystal surface are also being used to open up previously inaccessible areas of structure sensitive surface chemistry and chiral surface geometries.


Prof. Utz

Physical and Materials Chemistry - Research in my group reveals how energy and molecular motion promote chemical reactions on catalytically active metal surfaces. We use a combination of ultrahigh vacuum surface analysis instrumentation, infrared spectroscopy, molecular beams, and sensitive detection techniques to prepare reactant molecules with a well-defined energy and the measure their reaction probability. Work typically involves the use and design of electronic, mechanical, and optical instruments including lasers, vacuum equipment, surface characterization, computer interfacing and control, and the acquisition and analysis of experimental data. Current experiments are exploring how our understanding of simple model systems extends to more complex chemical environments, which include structurally more complex gas phase reagents, and surfaces that are geometrically (steps, kinks) and chemically (alloys) heterogeneous.