Undergraduate Research

Exploration starts here

Undergraduate research is a valuable opportunity for students to gain practical knowledge and experiences that will provide a solid foundation for further study and future employment.

Researchers develop more than just an ability to perform laboratory techniques. Here, you can hone your critical thinking and problem solving skills while working side by side with our expert faculty. Plus, you’ll have the chance to present your work at national conferences, and maybe even publish your research for the world to see.

Beakers with chemicals in them.

Summer Research

Want to get paid to do research? Every summer, our department supports students through the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). The program provides a generous stipend for 10 weeks of research under the direction of a faculty member.

Inside the cave exploration.

Wind Cave National Park Research

In partnership with NASA, the University of Northern Iowa is part of an ongoing research project at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. Through the work, UNI chemistry and biochemistry students have the chance to travel to the caves each summer, where they study the types of isolated life that can survive in extreme subterranean systems. From this work, they hope to develop an understanding of the conditions that allow life to grow in such places, and use it as a method of understanding how similar environments might exist and behave on other planets. 

Students interested in this program may contact Dr. Josh Sebree – joshua.sebree@uni.edu

Students in front of Eifel Tower.

International Research in France

The University of Northern Iowa has a long-standing student exchange program with L’ École  Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Rennes (ENSCR). As recently as the summer of 2019, undergraduate students from UNI have participated in this program in Rennes, France and conducted research in the laboratories of ENSCR faculty members.

Students interested in this program may contact Bill Harwood at bill.harwood@uni.edu 

Student with an instructor in front of a large display screen.

Want to get involved?

To get involved in research, look at the faculty research interests below to find out what general projects faculty are engaged in. Find a project or projects that are interesting to you, and email or drop by the office of the faculty to discuss their projects. The faculty are always glad to talk with students about their research projects!

Dawn Del Carlo
Areas of Interest:
 has students working in classroom laboratory and in creating professional development for teachers to make laboratory more effective learning experiences for their students.

Kirk Manfredi
Areas of Interest
: Identifying biologically active natural products from prairie plants and cultured fungi; developing techniques to determine the absolute stereochemistry and regiochemsitry of complex carbohydrates.

Ira Simet
Areas of Interest
: investigating the function of different forms of DNA polymerase alpha.

Martin Chin
Areas of Interest
: synthesis of organometallic complexes for the activation and functionalization of small molecules.

Nalin Goonesekere
Areas of Interest
: Biochemistry, Cancer Research. Research conducted in our laboratory focuses on the broad problem of interpreting DNA sequence data to obtain biologically meaningful information.

Justin Peters
Areas of Interest
: Experimental and theoretical treatment of mathematical models, particularly those applied to biopolymers such as DNA.

Laura Strauss
Areas of Interest
: Inorganic Chemistry, Solid-State Chemistry, Magnetic Materials. Research into new ways to store energy produced by sources such as wind, solar, biomass etc.

Shoshanna Coon
Areas of Interest
: works on chemistry that occurs on surfaces. Any heterogeneous chemical reaction actually takes place at the interface between two phases. Therefore, an understanding of the mechanisms of these reactions requires knowledge of the surface characteristics and the interactions of the surface with the other phase.

Joshua Sebree 
Areas of Interest
: Experimental studies of the atmosphere of Titan and the early Earth, particular interest is the conditions that will lead to the formation of bio-molecules.

Colin Weeks 
Areas of Interest
: designs 3D coordination polymers that combine metal centers and organic ligands.

Some students may find it helpful to touch base with peers who have been or are involved in research projects. Check out the list of student presentations at the spring 2019 meeting of the American Chemical Society. The names of UNI undergraduates are in boldface.

Present your research at a professional conference

Each year, our department sends its student researchers to present their work at the spring American Chemical Society meeting.