Posted in | Nanoanalysis

NSF Offers Grant to VCU to Provide Training for Undergraduates in Chemistry and Nanoscience

A new program funded by the National Science Foundation will provide training in nanoscience and chemical biology research to eight undergraduate students at Virginia Commonwealth University every summer for the next three years.

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $312,309 grant to VCU to provide a summer research experience for undergraduates in chemistry and chemical engineering. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Through this program, students will be exposed to cutting-edge research techniques, instrumentation and data analysis methods typically not provided in undergraduate labs, thereby increasing [their] awareness about chemistry research and the likelihood that they will enroll in graduate-level training in chemistry or [obtain] successful careers in chemical industry.

Indika U. Arachchige, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, College of Humanities and Sciences, Virginia Commonwealth University

Arachchige will lead the program along with Suzanne Ruder, PhD, a professor in the Department of Chemistry.

The Practices and Perspectives in Nanoscience and Chemical Biology program will offer students with an experience that integrates practical training in particular research methods with activities that set the research into the context of larger targets of modern science and technology in nanoscience and chemical biology.

Furthermore, it will offer training in ethics, professionalism, and career planning during the summer with weekly lunch meetings, workshops, and seminars. Participants will get a chance to visit a local pharmaceutical facility and take part in mock interviews and panel discussions with industrial researchers, introducing them to various aspects of real-world positions in the chemistry profession.

Recently, the Division of Chemistry in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate of the National Science Foundation awarded $312,309 grant to the program.

The objective is to catch the attention of students from VCU as well as from regional colleges where there are less undergraduate research opportunities available. Moreover, the target of the program will be women and minority students.

A large objective of the program is that participants from historically underrepresented populations will receive the chance to learn concepts of nanoscience and chemical biology and take the knowledge back to their institutions while advancing a varied scientific workforce.

The VCU program will be part of the NSF’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program that encourages participation by undergraduate students in research fields funded by the National Science Foundation.

Participants will take up research projects that include data analysis, computer modeling, chemical synthesis, and so on.

The VCU program will take place from May 28th to August 9th, starting in 2019, and continue through summer 2021. Participants will get a stipend of $5000 and the program will pay housing and additional fees. It will also pay for five students to go to national or regional American Chemistry Society conferences to present their Research Experiences for Undergraduates projects.

The program will expose the students to the basics of highly interdisciplinary nanoscience and chemical biology concepts via direct experience of conducting research, offering them a unique training and specific technical expertise, which is not usually received in undergraduate labs.

As a research faculty, I am very excited about the opportunity to teach students about nanoscience and chemical biology research and have them excited about enormous opportunities in both disciplines.

Indika U. Arachchige, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, College of Humanities and Sciences, Virginia Commonwealth University

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