Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Get Involved in Research

Participating in independent research is a unique opportunity for our undergraduates to make their coursework and Majors come alive by gaining exposure to cutting-edge Chemistry research and real-world scientific practice. Undergraduates who engage in independent research will work alongside graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty to develop new solutions to important problems ranging from sustainability & the environment to the prevention & treatment of disease. Independent research is fantastic preparation for graduate school and a wide range of chemistry careers. Many of our undergraduate students produce novel results that lead to authorship on publications.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Independent research positions are best suited for curious students who are interested in diving deeper into the world of Chemistry research. For students intending to pursue graduate school, or research careers in Chemistry or related fields, independent research experiences are essential. However, health professional schools, like medical, dental or veterinary schools, do not require independent research. For many Tufts pre-health students, clinical research opportunities provide a better overall fit in terms of interests and the development of relevant skills. Still, many pre-health students have further developed their passion for Chemistry during independent research experiences—some have even decided instead to pursue graduate programs in Chemistry, or gone on to MD/PhD programs.

  • Independent research requires commitment, creativity, passion, and dedication. Independent research can be extremely rewarding, but also time-consuming. Research mentors will expect that students commit a minimum of 15 hours per week of research, typically over multiple semesters. It should not be pursued solely to pad a resume or CV. You will need to carefully consider your own priorities and other commitments before deciding to pursue independent research.

  • Students who are interested in research are encouraged to enroll in Chem 3 & 4 (Frontiers in Chemistry), offered in the fall and spring, respectively. Both of these 1SHU, pass/fail seminar courses provide an opportunity for students to meet faculty and learn more about chemistry-related research at Tufts. Additionally, the department holds weekly seminars in which visiting faculty, typically from other institutions, present their current research. Undergraduates are encouraged to check out the seminar schedule and attend any talks that sound interesting. Finally, interested undergraduates are encouraged to go to individual Chemistry research labs’ websites to learn more about their research and read some of their recent articles.

  • Working in a lab can be challenging, so it is very important that you feel enthusiasm and passion for your research project. To figure out what research is most exciting to you, you'll need to do your homework before applying to a lab. You can start by reading online about the different types of research happening in the Chemistry Department. Research Lab Profiles provide a research overview, information about relevant prerequisites and deadlines, and a link to each lab's website, where you can learn more about current projects, read recent publications, and more. Once you have identified a few labs that you are particularly interested in, it can also be helpful to talk about research with the people around you. You may make a connection with a research lab by talking to peers, graduate students, teaching assistants, or faculty who may have a piece of advice, or personal connection to research that you are interested in pursuing.  

  • You will be submitting a separate application for each lab (please note that you can apply to as many labs as you want). When filling out your application, be sure to mention the specific things about each lab's research that you find interesting or exciting, how the research relates to your overall career goals, and reference any publications that you have read. It is important to take time to personalize each application for the specific labs. Faculty know that undergraduate research spots are limited, so they want to make sure that they select someone who has a good overall fit and match of interests with the work going on in their lab. Taking time to tailor each application will make your application stand out!

  • Once your application has been forwarded to the lab(s) you applied to, you will receive a confirmation e-mail from the front office within a week. Each lab has their own profile, which explains their deadlines and processes for hiring undergraduate researchers. We encourage you to review deadlines for a timeframe in which you can expect to hear from each lab. In general, most faculty try to reviews applications within a few weeks of their stated deadlines, but sometimes things come up unexpectedly that can delay application review. If you're feeling particularly excited about a lab, you may consider reaching out to that faculty member, or the front office, to follow up on the status of your application. Please be aware that, in general, we receive more applications than we have available positions. This means that you should consider applying to multiple labs, and be persistent, as it could take a few months or longer to find a research position.

  • During the academic year, undergraduate students can earn credit for their independent research (beginning with Chem 81) and, during their senior year, they can also participate in a Senior Thesis. In some cases, undergraduates may be paid as summer/academic year research assistants. Additionally, once you have found a research advisor, there are several opportunities to apply for undergraduate summer scholarships to fund summer research positions.

Apply for a Position

The Chemistry Department has a centralized application for undergraduates seeking to join research labs. Please note that expectations and availability of research positions can vary among laboratories. Interested undergraduates should review the responsibilities, expectations, and prerequisites for a position in each Chemistry research lab, as well as the number of available positions and relevant timeline(s) for consideration. To apply, please download the application form and submit all application materials with the links below.

Download application form Submit all application materials

Research Lab Profiles

The Department of Chemistry has 16 unique research labs that provide opportunities to undergraduate students.

Bennett Lab

Research in the Bennett lab uses a combination of organic synthesis, physical organic chemistry, and automation to address longstanding problems in carbohydrate chemistry.

Caspari Lab

The Caspari group focuses on analyzing students', teaching assistants' (TA), learning assistants' (LA), and instructors' reasoning, interactions, and culture

Clark Lab

Research in the Clark Group seeks to develop new materials and analytical methods to identify, quantify, and understand the function of RNA modifications in biological systems.

Davis Lab

Research in the Davis lab focuses on sustainability in inorganic materials.

Ding Lab

The Ding Lab develops advanced computational methods for drug design and understanding complex biophysical processes. The main computational tools used in the lab include molecular simulations and machine learning.

Kounaves Lab

Our research is aimed at understanding how biologically-produced molecules (biomarkers) on Mars are altered when exposed to UV radiation in the presence of oxidants and/or their intermediate products.

Kritzer Lab

The Kritzer lab uses new molecules to solve vital chemical and biomedical problems.  We discover new molecules and apply them by combining approaches from organic synthesis, biochemistry, biophysics, computational design, genetics, and cell biology -- and by inventing new approaches as we go along.

Kumar Lab

Our research program has broad, expansive interests at the intersection of chemistry, biology, and medicine.  Current problems of interest to the laboratory range from understanding the origin of life to the design of therapeutics for a wide range of indications.

Lin Lab

The YSL lab uses computational chemistry to study and predict the structures and functions of biomolecules.

Mace Lab

Research in the Mace lab targets many aspects of measurement science: process improvement, assay development, device design and prototyping, usability and user experience, and testing using real sample matrices.

Scheck Lab

Research in the Scheck lab uses chemistry to learn more about biological systems. We focus on developing new chemical methods that can be used to study protein post-translational modifications, especially those that have been difficult to study using traditional tools.

Shultz Lab

Research in the Shultz lab focuses on the development of catalysts for various energy applications.

Sykes Lab

The Sykes lab uses state of the art scanning probes and surface science instrumentation to study technologically important systems.

Thomas Lab

Research in the Thomas lab focuses on new organic materials that respond to light. Undergraduate researchers in our lab are paired with an experienced graduate student or postdoctoral researcher and given a project of their own.

Utz Lab

The Utz Group studies the energetics and mechanism of reactions on catalytically active metal surfaces.

Zhang Lab

Our group aims to discover new transition metal complexes for sustainable applications.

Summer Scholarship Opportunities

Chemistry Student in Kritzer Lab

Undergraduate students have the opportunity to apply for scholarships to fund summer research.

Recent Publications

Below are recent publications from Tufts Chemistry Department with undergraduate co-authors. Undergraduate authors are indicated with in bold.