We describe an NSF-supported, pilot program to develop an Undergraduate Research Center (URC) for students in chemistry and closely allied fields. By acquainting first-year students with the centrality of chemistry in science, we seek to influence their career decisions towards science in general and chemistry-related subjects in particular, and ultimately to strengthen the scientific workforce. In our URC, selected students from Middlesex County College, Raritan Valley Community College and Rutgers University engage in research experiences tailored to match their interests and knowledge. Activities take place in the context of a new 3-credit course. Students spend ~3 hours/week in a research laboratory supervised by a faculty mentor and either a graduate student or post-doctoral research associate. Participating faculty mentors come from several academic units: Marine and Coastal Sciences, Environmental Sciences, the School of Pharmacy at Rutgers, and at UMDNJ, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. In the research laboratories, the students see first hand the practice of academic chemistry and get to know working scientists. The students also meet weekly as a group to discuss: chemistry as a discipline; open questions at the discipline's frontiers; and how work in the field is defined, structured, and supported. The URC has as corporate partners Enzon, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Novartis, Schering-Plough, and Wyeth, who share our goal of making chemistry and closely related sciences an attractive course of study for an increasing number of students. Over the course of the semester, the undergraduates visit three of these corporations.
Web Page: urc.rutgers.edu
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