Research FAQ

Q: How do I get involved in undergraduate research?

A: Please view The Path to Becoming an Undergraduate Researcher, and then schedule an appointment to discuss possible opportunities with Dr. LaChelle Waller by emailing

Q: What are the requirements for enrolling in Directed and Independent Study (CHEM 392/492)?

A: Although Undergraduate Research is an upper-level course, you are not required to have any particular class standing (i.e. junior, senior) in order to enroll. The only required pre-requisites are the completion of CHEM 101 and 102 along with CHEZ 101 and 102.  Students are encouraged to get involved in undergraduate research as early as possible in their academic careers.

Q: What is the difference between Directed Study (CHEM 392) and Independent Study (CHEM 492)?

A: CHEM 392 is an independent investigation of chemical problems through readings and experimentation under the supervision of a research advisor while CHEM 492 is an independent investigation of chemical problems through literature search and laboratory experimentation.

Q: What is the process for enrolling in Directed and Independent Undergraduate Research (CHEM 392/492)?

A: These two courses require that you complete a Permission to Enroll form which can be acquired from Dr. LaChelle Waller.  Please email to set up an appointment.  This form helps the department to ensure that you have a research advisor that has accepted you into their lab and knows that you will be using this research for credit towards your degree.  Upon completing this form, you will be required, with assistance from your research advisor, to write a small proposal that outlines the research you will be conducting prior to enrollment in the course.

Q: What fields of research are available in CHEM 392/492?

A: Research in the “traditional” fields of chemistry (analytical, chemistry, organic, and physical chemistry) is available throughout the Department of Chemistry. However, you must be mindful that most of the chemistry faculty members have research interests that span several areas of science. This is why it is important for you to discuss possible research projects with several faculty members prior to committing to join a particular research group.

You should also be aware that there can be many different types of projects within the same research group. For example, a professor who is listed as an organic chemist may have some projects that involve a lot of “wet” chemistry (synthesis, making molecules) and at the same time may have other projects that require heavy use of instrumentation and little or no synthesis (a project that involves kinetic studies using NMR spectroscopy). It is important to consult with the faculty to find out what types of projects are available.

Q: How many credit hours of CHEM 392/492 can I register for in a semester?

A: You may take CHEM 392/492 for 1 – 4 credit hours, depending on your research advisor’s advice and your schedule. Each credit hour of research typically requires 3-4 hours of laboratory work per week. Please note that CHEM 392 and 492 may be repeated for a maximum total of 8 credits; but only 3 credits are applicable to the chemistry major GPA.

Q: In what semesters is CHEM 392/492 offered?

A: CHEM 392/492 is offered during every fall, spring and summer session of every academic year.

Q: How do you enroll in CHEM392/492?

A: Students who wish to enroll in CHEM 392 or 492 must have a research mentor (or research advisor). The student must write a brief proposal describing their proposed research project and a full research report. Permission to register may be granted after the student completes these two forms 

Fall 2024 Permission to Enroll in Chemistry Research

Summer 2024 Permission to Enroll in Chemistry Research

Fall 2024 CHEM 392/492 Project Proposal

Summer 2024 CHEM 392/492 Project Proposal

The Student's mentor must also complete a form:
Summer 2024 Research advisor approval of proposed CHEM 392/492 project

Fall 2024 Research advisor approval of proposed CHEM 392/492 project

After the student and mentor complete the forms, and if the project is approved, the Department of Chemistry will set up a course override and notify the student when the override is ready.

Q: Where can I find information on research opportunities outside of VCU? 

A: Our Facebook page, Blackboard website (VCU Chem Majors), NSF-REU, and bulletin board outside of OLVPH 2069