Summer research

Why do research?  The Roanoke College Chemistry Department strongly encourages its Chemistry and Biochemistry majors to participate in undergraduate research projects. Such projects help you learn how classroom chemistry and biochemistry are used in a research setting, to learn the joys and frustrations of scientific research, and to participate in a close, cooperative fashion with a faculty mentor. In addition, remember that graduate schools, medical schools, and future potential employers view an undergraduate research experience in a very positive light. While not required of those who participate, many students who carry out research projects gather enough data to present their work as posters at national and local scientific meetings.

Who needs to do research to graduate?  One unit of 400-level research (summer or academic year) is a graduation requirement for the BS in Chemistry and can count as a chemistry elective for the BA in Chemistry.  One unit of advanced research is one of two options for graduation requirements for the BS in Biochemistry.

What financial support is available for summer research?  Two programs, described below, pay a $2,500 stipend and provide housing.  These programs require a full time commitment.  Bondurant Research Fellowships - Up to six students will be paid a stipend of $2,500 each through the generous combined support of the Bondurant Fund and the Carroll and Hylton Endowments. The College supports such full-time summer research by providing free housing for Bondurant Scholars.  These fellowships require a ten week commitment.  The application form for these fellowships is attached to this document.  The deadline will be a predetermined date in February.  Students at all levels are encouraged to apply. Summer Scholar Fellowships - The Summer Scholar program is funded by the College.  Application materials and eligibility information may be found online here.  This program provides a $2,500 stipend and housing for 8-12 weeks of full-time work.  If you are interested in applying to the Summer Scholar program with a chemistry/biochemistry faculty member as your mentor, this mentor will assist you as you prepare your research proposal. Please contact your preferred mentor as soon as possible to find out the deadline for the Summer Scholar Application. Summer Scholar candidates are also considered for Bondurant support and should turn in the one-page chemistry department application by the February deadline.

When can I move in?  The earliest possible move-in date for housing will be soon after the May Commencement Ceremony.  All students must move out around the first weekend in August.  (Students may not stay in the residence halls between the end of summer housing and the Fall move-in date.)  Students working full-time in paid positions have priority for housing.  Please note that no meal plan is provided.  Students who need to stay in the residence halls during the week between graduation and the start of IL must make special arrangements.  Please discuss with Dr. Keithley.            

Can I get credit?  Students may take research for credit during the summer.  Both 0.5 and 1 credit options are available. Credits are generally awarded during Fall, except for students doing an IL credit and students funded by Summer Scholars.  (Students should check carefully, as this could produce an overload situation.)  Guidelines for these courses are available from any faculty member.  It is not necessary to hold a paid position to take an independent study credit.  Similarly, holding a paid position does not mean a student must also be taking an independent study credit.  IL Credit - Under certain circumstances, an independent study experience during the summer may serve to fulfill your intensive learning (IL) graduation requirement.  For more information about this option, please consult Dr. Keithley.  The deadline for IL approval is around the first of April.

What are the requirements for summer research?  Anyone doing summer research in the department is expected to participate in regularly-scheduled group meetings.  At the start of fall, each student getting 400-level credit or getting a stipend writes a formal research paper, makes an oral presentation to the chemistry faculty and other summer students, and presents a poster.  Summer researchers often socialize together.  We've had pool parties, cook-outs, gone to baseball games, played Munchkin, and generally had lots of fun, in addition to working hard in the lab!

Can I do research and hold a job?  Can I do research and take a class?  Students who are being paid to do summer research may not have other major time commitments during the period of the paid research. Thus, paid researchers may not be taking other academic courses during this period. Outside employment or internships that are substantial enough to interfere with your research effort are also prohibited.  Students who are not receiving a stipend may hold any schedule that has the agreement of the research advisor.

What else could I do this summer?  The department also wishes to encourage our students, particularly those who have had previous research experience here, to consider summer research opportunities at other institutions. Materials concerning these programs can be found in Trexler 464. Please note that the deadlines for application to these programs tend to be earlier than our own February deadline.

OK, I'm interested!  Now what?  We make available descriptions of the  research projects from faculty members who have indicated they will be available to supervise summer research each Spring. Please feel free to discuss the projects with these faculty members. Also attached you will find an application form so you may apply for one or more of these positions.  Please return this form to Dr. Keithley by noon on the predetermined date in February if you have any interest in these positions. Note that separate application must be made to be considered for a Summer Scholar Award and that the Summer Scholar deadline must be met.

What happens after I apply?  Faculty will meet to discuss the applications.  We try to match students with projects they have ranked highly.  You will receive a letter notifying you of our decision on or around April 1.

Any more questions?  Please come see Dr. Keithley (Trexler 179) or email (  You might also like to talk with students who have done research in past summers.  They can tell you how awesome it is to hang out in Trexler in the summer!