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Student Activities During the Summer of 2019

In addition to the independent research, student interns will be involved in a number of professional development and social activities during the course of the summer. These are described below.

Arrival and Orientation: Plan to arrive in  East Lansing during the day on May 17th. All interns will reside in single-sex rooms in an undergraduate residence hall a short walk from the Chemistry Building. Food service will be available in the residence hall. The student interns will have full access to the dining hall, library, fitness center and bicycle rental.

The program orientation will be on Saturday,  May 18th, and include a group lunch. The event will provide the first forum for community building during which the student interns will introduce themselves and begin interacting with one another. Faculty mentors will also be present so this  student interns will be able  interact with faculty in a low-pressure, social environment. Some administrative details will be discussed (e.g., program overview will be given) and a group photo will be taken. Monday, May 20th, will be the first day in the laboratory. The interns will be escorted to their assigned labs where they will be met by their faculty mentor, graduate student co-mentor and other laboratory personnel. All necessary online laboratory and chemical safety training will be completed by this first day prior to any research being conducted.

Statistics Training: Core competency in experimental design and statistical analysis is necessary for a good researcher. To this end, we will offer some basic training in statistical analysis. The training will include topics such as an introduction to hypothesis testing, reliability and validity, t-tests, ANOVA, post-hoc analysis and regression analysis.

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR):  All student interns will participate in a series of lectures (each Monday for five weeks (1 h) to teach them about the core components of RCR including (i) scientific conversations, rights to data and authorship, (ii) crediting the work of others and avoiding plagiarism, (iii) record keeping, data management and sharing information, (iv) misconduct in research and creative activities, and (v) conflicts of interest, peer review and collaborative teamwork.

Laboratory and Chemical Safety Training: Full training of the student interns in proper laboratory practices and chemical safety is an absolute and will be conducted at the beginning of the program. The online training modules will include (i) chemical safety, (ii) biological safety (if appropriate), (iii) radiation safety (if appropriate), and (iv) handling and disposing of hazardous waste. In addition to these required  modules, the student interns will be trained on specific practices in each of their respective labs (e.g., standard operating procedures and location of safety equipment).

Wednesday Lunch Meetings: Each Wednesday, the student interns, the PI and co-PI, and available mentoring faculty members will meet for lunch to socialize and to conduct different programmatic events. These are described below.

Research Presentations and Journal Club: Five of the ten Wednesday lunch meetings will involve presentations by mentoring faculty members about their ongoing research.  In addition, each faculty member will select a journal article to be read and discussed by the interns.  These meetings will provide the interns with more breadth in the field of green chemistry by familiarizing them with research papers and how to critically evaluate them.

Strategies for Applying to Graduate School: One Wednesday lunch meeting will be used for a group workshop on selecting and applying to graduate programs. This information will help students (i) properly select a graduate program that best fits their needs and (ii) navigate through the application process.

Resume Writing and Proper Presentation Format: One Wednesday lunch meeting will be used to review with the student interns proper ways of preparing a personal statement and resume. The session will cover what a resume is, what information should be in it and how it should be organized. During this meeting, we will also review with the student strategies for presentations. The latter will be an important task in preparation for the Undergraduate Research Forum. Faculty mentors will lead these discussions.

Careers in Chemical Sciences: Two Wednesday lunch meetings will be reserved for presentations by invited scientists: one from industry and one from academia. The purpose for these lectures will be to inform the student interns about what chemists do in the real world and what skills are necessary for  successful careers in academia and industry.

Additionally, the students will participate in two campus-wide, MSU-sponsored  networking dinners. These are designed to help both visiting (e.g., REU student interns)  and on-campus undergraduate student researchers engage with the broader University community and to provide an opportunity to network with faculty, graduate students, and other student researchers in a less formal setting.  For each dinner, students will be divided into smaller groups based on broad disciplinary areas (e.g., chemistry, engineering, life sciences, and social sciences) and have the opportunity to ask questions and interact with faculty and graduate students regarding educational opportunities, career choices, etc. 

Undergraduate Research Forum: Near the end of the REU program, the interns will participate in a campus-wide summer  research symposium called the Mid-Michigan Symposium for Undergraduate Research Experiences (Mid-SURE). The date for this symposium is Wednesday, July 24, 2019. Here, they will present the results of their summer activities to other undergraduate student interns (e.g., SROP), faculty members from multiple departments across campus, and members of the MSU research community. This annual event at MSU provides undergraduates experience in presenting their research, answering questions about their work from audience members and guests, and receiving constructive feedback from judges.

Field Trip to Dow Chemical: Student interns will go on a field trip to visit the Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, MI. This is about a 90 min drive from East Lansing. On this trip, the students will meet with Dow scientists, learn more about what chemical scientists do at the company and see first-hand some of the sustainable processes the company has implemented. The students will engage in discussions with select scientists including a question and answer session, tour laboratory and process facilities and find out about student internship possibilities.

MSU Bioeconomy Institute: The MSU Bioeconomy Institute (located in Holland, MI) provides chemical pilot plant scale-up production and conducts sponsored research and testing for both for-profit and not-for-profit entities of all sizes. The 138,000-square-foot facility complements and extends MSU campus research that supports the emerging bioeconomy, including biofuels, bio-based specialty chemicals and biomaterials.  We will make a one-day trip to the Institute so the student interns can learn about the processes involved in designing and implementing an eco-friendly and bio-based chemical process.

Research Symposium: On the last Friday of the training program (July 26, 2019), we will have a symposium where the students will make a short oral presentation  (12 min with 3 min of Q&A) on their summer projects followed by a group lunch.  At the symposium, we will acknowledge the work done by each of the student interns, provide them with a certificate of accomplishment and a parting gift, and recognize the mentors.