Engaging in scientific research develops the critical thinking skills and technical expertise that catalyzes continued career success after graduation. Consequently, the Department of Biochemistry requires its majors to spend at least a year doing undergraduate research and prefers that they undertake at least two years. It is to the student's advantage to select a laboratory in the Department of Biochemistry, since that will make it easier for the student to become well acquainted with several faculty and with the other students in the Department. However, there is no requirement that Biochemistry majors do their research within the Department, and many choose laboratories in other departments based on their research interests. If a research mentor from another department is chosen, the project must involve modern molecular biological approaches so that the student gets experience with applications of those approaches and acquires knowledge of some of the principal tools of modern biochemistry. In fact, all projects in departments other than Biochemistry must be approved by your faculty advisor prior to successfully registering for BCHM 49800, the official course number associated with your research experience that enables you to receive credit from the University. For more on this subject and other requirements, please see the BCHM 49800 syllabus. We also offer our students the opportunity to receive credit for an exploratory research experience in BCHM 29800. This course is intended primarily for freshmen and sophomores who want a more closely supervised research experience prior to enrolling in BCHM 49800.
The best way of identifying a potential research advisor is to go to the faculty member's web page. Every department has a link on its web site for "faculty". Please see Biochemistry's Faculty Research page for an example. These faculty pages typically contain a concise description of the kind of research projects a faculty member is undertaking. Clicking on the short statement often leads to a more detailed description of the particular subject area that is being studied. A student looking for a mentor should make a list of five or six faculty doing research in an area related to the student's interests and then use e-mail to set up meetings to talk with the faculty members. Many students also find it helpful to talk to their fellow classmates to identify labs that might be suitable for them. Most of our students identify a wide variety of labs that are undertaking research of interest to them and so successfully discover labs that are a terrific fit for them – even if the lab they end up in isn’t their initial first choice.
If a student is interested in biomedical research, Biochemistry (College of Agriculture), Biological Sciences (College of Science), and Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology (College of Pharmacy) are good places to start. There are also some faculty in Chemistry and in the College of Veterinary Medicine who may be appropriate research mentors. For a student interested in animal research, Animal Sciences (College of Agriculture) should be added to that list. For someone interested in plant sciences, Biochemistry, Horticulture, Botany, and Agronomy (all in the College of Agriculture) should be considered. If you identify a potential lab that isn’t in one of the groups listed above, please don’t hesitate to bring it the attention of your faculty advisor – he or she will be happy to help you evaluate whether the lab is suitable for a research project by a student in Biochemistry.
Students need to enroll in one of the following to earn credit for their research project:
When students have enough data, usually during the spring semester of their senior year, they will enroll in BCHM 490: Undergraduate Seminar. The focus of this course is discussion of students’ research projects and preparation of posters and public seminars based upon research results obtained by the students.
$500 research grants are available from the College of Agriculture to assist in purchasing supplies for students' research projects. This is a rolling application process each year that gives out awards until the funds are depleted. For more information, see https://ag.purdue.edu/oap/Pages/undergrad_research.aspx
Biochemistry students who have research experience prior to their senior year are often competitive for a $2,000 research scholarship from the College of Agriculture if they enroll in BCHM 49800 in their senior year. For more information, see https://ag.purdue.edu/oap/Pages/undergrad_research.aspx