tracking pixel


Student Experience

student and test tube

Conduct research as an undergrad

The Chemistry Department offers opportunities for students to perform research throughout their time at St. Ambrose. As early as the first year students can apply to take CHEM 108: Introduction to Chemical Research - Honors. This course is for general chemistry students interested in developing and carrying out an original group research project.

Students in this course have studied a wide variety of real-life questions including:

  • Do free-range eggs have lower levels of cholesterol?
  • Do nitrate levels in a river increase as you go down-river?
  • Do generic brand pre-natal multi-vitamins contain as much iron as brand name multi-vitamins?
  • Does rinsing an apple with water remove pesticides from the surface?
  • Do dollar bills from an urban ATM contain more cocaine than dollar bills from a more rural ATM?

Upperclassmen students can enroll in CHEM 428 and 429. During two semesters, students work independently to develop, propose, and carry out an original research project.

Students have investigated a range of topics such as:

  • Determination of the efficacy of phytoremediation of lead in soil
  • Investigation of small molecule binding constants in myoglobin
  • Determination of heavy metal allergens in body powder
  • Development of green methods in the production of silver nanoparticles

Present your research

Students involved in all levels of research have several opportunities to present their work.

In the spring, St. Ambrose holds the College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Scholars Conference, and in the fall the local section of the American Chemical Society holds an Undergraduate Research Conference. Both provide a setting for students to share their work with peers through poster or power point presentations.

Further experience is available through employment as a tutor or laboratory assistant in our department. Additionally, our majors have the opportunity to participate in internships or research projects during the summers, which offer outstanding introductions to graduate school or jobs in industry.

In recent years, many of our students have participated in summer research through the St. Ambrose Summer Undergraduate Research Institute or an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates). Students have also participated in internships at QCAnalytical Services and Valspar, as well as various hospital and crime labs.

Chemistry Club

Outside of class, you will be able to get to know your fellow students through the SAU Chemistry Club, which is an award-winning American Chemical Society student chapter.

Members of the chapter participate in community outreach activities such as presenting chemical demonstrations to school children as part of National Chemistry Week, sponsoring meetings and a research symposium through the local section of the American Chemical Society, and organizing various professional and social events within the department.

In Their Own Words

Chem 108 (Introduction to Chemical Research) provided me with a unique and positive learning experience that increased my interest in studying chemistry. The research lab taught me various lab techniques, how to formulate a research experiment, and how to carry out the experiment. I also learned useful lab techniques and have applied them to some of my other classes. I enjoyed being able to pick our own research topic which allowed each group to pick something of interest to them. I truly valued this experience and would do it again if I had the opportunity.
–Courtney Pold, Junior

I thought Chem 108 offered a unique opportunity to jump into research as a freshman and learn the basics so I could work on something a bit more advanced as an upperclassman. It's also a great opportunity to meet new people who share that same passion for science. Many of the people I worked with have become close friends and make rough patches of college much easier to get through.
–Kialee Bowles, Senior

Conducting research helped me to develop creativity, problem solving, and patience that are all essential for the advancement of, not only our field, but all of science.
–Mitch Godfrey, Junior

Participating in the chemistry research lab was a great experience for me, allowing me to have an active role in research while helping to show me that chemistry is so much more than what most people think.
–Laura Moorman, Sophomore


Two SAU chemistry majors have recently received awards. One received a student leadership award from the American Chemical Society, and the other received a $6,000 scholarship from Phi Eta Sigma, a national professional honor society.