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Participant Activities During the Summer of 2020

In addition to the independent research, student participants will be involved in a number of program, professional development and social activities during the summer program. The program activities will occur weekly on Mondays from 9:00 - 10:00 am and on Wednesdays from 11:00 am - 12:00 pm. The different activities are described below.

Arrival and Orientation: Plan to arrive in East Lansing during the day on May 15th. All participants will reside in single-sex rooms in an undergraduate residence hall walking distance from the Chemistry Building. Food service will be available in a dining hall located within the residence complex. The student participants will also be able to use library resources, fitness centers (fee charged) and bicycle rental (fee charged) resources.

The program orientation will be held from 9:00 - 11:30 am on Saturday,  May 16th, with a group lunch afterward. The event will provide the first forum for community building during which the student participants will introduce themselves and begin interacting with one another. Administrative details will be discussed, an overview of the summer program will be given and a group photo will be taken. Monday, May 18th, will be the first day in the laboratory. The participants will be escorted to their assigned labs where they will be met by their faculty mentor, graduate student co-mentor and or other laboratory personnel. All necessary online and group-specific laboratory and chemical safety training will be completed  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, the program  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, and regression analysis.

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR):  All participants will engage in several discussions (Monday sessions for three weeks (1h) to learn 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.

Mentoring and Leadership: Effective mentoring and proper mentor-mentee relationships are critical for one's educational, scientific and career development. Quality and effective mentoring is a cornerstone of our program. Participants will engage in a discussion (Monday session) about the importance of mentoring, characteristics of effective mentors and mentor-mentee relationships. Participants will also engage in a discussion (Monday session) on developing effective leadership skills.

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

Weekly Reports and Chalk Talks: Student participants will develop their written communication skills through  submission of weekly one-page progress reports describing the goal for the research that week, one key piece of data and an analysis and interpretation of the result. The Program Director will provide feedback on the quality of the writing and the technical content. Participants will improve their oral communication skills though 10-min chalk talks (Monday sessions for three weeks) where they will describe on the board the goal of their project, some aspect of an experiment and a key piece of data. Questions will be asked by the group.

Wednesday Lunch Meetings: Each Wednesday, student participants, the Program Director and co-Director, and available mentoring faculty members will meet to conduct different programmatic events. These are described below.

Research Presentations and Journal Club: Five of the ten Wednesday meetings will involve presentations by mentoring faculty members or faculty from across campus about their ongoing "green chemistry" research.  In addition, each faculty presenter will select one of their scientific manuscripts to be read ahead of time with the presentation and discussion focusing on this manuscript. These meetings will provide the participants 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 meeting will be focused  on selecting and applying to graduate programs. The Graduate Program Director in the Department of Chemistry will lead this discussion.  Information in this session will help students to (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  meeting will be used to review with the student participants 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,  strategies for quality presentations will be discussed. 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 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 lunches or dinners. These are designed to help both visiting (e.g., REU student participants) 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 lunch or 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, students 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 22, 2020. Here, students will make poster presentions on 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 participants 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 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.  Participants may make a one-day trip to the Institute to 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 24, 2020), a departmental symposium will be held where the students will make a short oral presentation  (12 min with 3 min of Q&A) on their summer projects. At the symposium, the work performed by each of the student participants will be recognized, a certificate of completion will be awarded and the efforts of the faculty and graduate student mentors will be acknowledged.