Course Specifics:

Instructor: Dr. Jason C. Hurlbert

Office: Sims 301B

Office hours: M 10:30-11:30 AM, T 4:00-5:00 PM, R 12:30-1:30PM and by appointment

Phone: 323-4928


Meeting Times:

Friday, 9:00 – 9:50AM, Sims 111

3 credit hours

Textbook: ACS Style Guide, 3rd Edition, Anne Coghill and Lorrin Garson, editors

Course Outline and Objectives:

CHEM 551 is the first of a two-semester sequence that provides a faculty-mentored research experience that exposes undergraduates to hypothesis-based investigations in chemistry. The goals of this course align with University Level Competency (ULC) #1 – “Winthrop graduates think critically and solve problems,” and ULC #4 “Winthrop graduates communicate effectively.”

During the Research sequence (CHEM 551 – 552), the student will learn to:

CHEM551 Section 001 Tentative Course Schedule

For specific dates and assignments, please visit the "Course Schedule" page from the link in the top right

Week Topic
1 Course Introduction, Course Contract and Safety Summary Handed Out
2 Literature Sources Identified
3 Rough Draft of Literature Review Due
4 Rough Draft of Proposal Due, Approval Draft of Literature Review Due to Mentors
5 Final Draft of Literature Review Due to Committee, Approval Draft of Proposal Due to Mentors
6 Proposal Due to Committee Members, Rough Draft of Oral Research Proposal Due
7 Begin Oral Research Proposal Presentations, Rough Draft of Introduction Due
8 Complete Oral Research Proposal Presentations, Approval Draft of Introduction Due to Mentors
9 Introduction Due to Committee Members
10 Rough Draft of Materials and Methods Due
11 Approval Draft of Materials and Methods Due to Mentors
12 Begin Oral Progress Report Presetnations, Materials and Methods Due to Committee Members, Rough Draft of Results/Discussion Due
13 Approval Draft of Results/Discussion Due to Mentors
14 Thanksgiving Break
15 Finish Oral Progress Report Presentations, Final Paper Due to Committee Members

Grading for the course

General Assignments (Specific due dates are listed on the course schedule):

  1. Course Contract (25 pts, recorded by coordinator): After interviewing three (3) potential faculty mentors, select a research mentor (be sure to verify that he or she is available to mentor you). In consultation with your mentor, choose a research committee, and complete the course contract. This is an individual, signed agreement between student, mentor, and committee members outlining the expectations and goals for the semester. Specific guidelines and an example can be found on the course website. Copies of the completed course contract must be given to all parties involved, and to the course coordinator. Please note that failure to satisfy the requirements of the course contract may result in a grade of “F” for the course.
  2. Project Safety Summary, Safety Training, and Safety Quiz (25 pts, recorded by coordinator): Using the template on the course webpage, a description of materials and methods, hazards, and safety precautions to be encountered in the course of the semester is to be completed in consultation with the faculty mentor. Students are also required to attend a safety training session, to be given by Dr. Snyder near the beginning of the semester (dates, times, and room nos. will be announced in class). You must pass the associated safety quiz with 100% score. Failure to attend safety training or pass the safety quiz will immediately revoke eligibility to conduct research and your enrollment in the research course.
  3. Laboratory Notebook (75 pts, grade submitted by mentor): The mentor will assign grades based on format, neatness, organization and detail.
  4. Laboratory Technique (75 pts, grade submitted by mentor): The mentor will assign grades based on the quality of student’s laboratory performance.
  5. Laboratory Safety (100 pts, grade submitted by mentor): The mentor will assess the student’s laboratory hygiene and safety practices.
  6. Class Participation (100 pts, grade assigned by coordinator): Each student is expected to be prepared for class discussions and actively participate in course meetings. This includes occasional peer review of written assignments. In addition, students may be required to give brief in-class presentations over the course of the semester.

Written Assignments (due dates are listed on the course schedule; grades submitted by each individual committee member):

Note: Each written assignment will have 3 iterations: A rough draft that is due in class for self-evaluation and editing, an approval draft to be submitted to your mentor a week later and a final draft that is due to all of your committee members the week after that. Completion of this course and the successive course, CHEM552, will result in written communication credit, so learning not only how to write, but how to edit your own writing is a key component of this course.

  1. Literature Summaries (100 pts): A directed investigation of the scientific literature relevant to the specific project and broader field of research must be completed. Searches will employ appropriate databases (e. g. SciFinder); students will receive guidance in the use of these databases in class. The student is required to a short (2 – 3 sentences) project description, along with summaries of at least ten (10) sources (books, articles, etc.).
  2. Written Proposal (100 pts): An in-depth description of the goals, methods, and impact of the two-semester research project. The written proposal should contain the information discussed in class, including sections covering the Background and Significance of the project, Specific Aims (or Project Goals), Methods, Estimated Timeline, and Literature Cited.
  3. Introduction (100 pts): A draft of the introduction section of the final paper. This section must include at least 7 references from peer-reviewed sources, with in-text citations and endnotes in the format detailed in class. You should also incorporate any committee feedback obtained from your written and oral proposals into this document.
  4. Materials and Methods (50 pts): Text describing the materials and methods used during your research project written according to the pinnacle journal in your research field. This section must be written so that another reseearcher in the field in another laboratory could follow your procedure and reproduce your results.
  5. Results and Discussion (50 pts): Text describing the results you obtained during your research project and their meaning. Some fields combine Results and Discussion sections, whereas other fields have separate sections of text, defer to the pinnacle journal in your field for guidance.
  6. 551 Final Paper (200 pts): The final paper summarizing your first semester of research, including the revised Title, Introduction, Experimental/Methods, Results/Discussion sections. You should incorporate any feedback received on your previously graded assignments from your mentor and committee. This draft must be fully referenced (minimum of 10 peer-reviewed sources), with in-text citations and endnotes in the format used by the pinnacle journal in your field.

Oral Assignments (due dates are listed on the course schedule; grades determined by committee consensus)

  1. Committee Meeting #1 (Oral Research Proposal) (100 pts): A 15 – 20 minute oral PowerPoint presentation to your research committee on the background and justification for your research project, as well as your research plans for the academic year.
  2. Committee Meeting #2 (Oral Progress Report) (100 pts): A 15 – 20 minute oral PowerPoint presentation to your research committee which will include a short review of the background, justification, and plans for your project, followed by a detailed presentation of the progress you have made and any further plans for the remainder of the semester.
  3. 551 Final Presentation (200 pts): You will give a 10 - 12 minute oral PowerPoint presentation of the semester’s work to the entire campus community. The successful presenter will: (1) provide a complete introduction to the goals and significance of the project and the techniques employed, (2) describe experimental methods utilized and results obtained thus far and (3) address specific plans for the following semester. Grades will be submitted by the faculty members attending the presentation.

Total Possible Points = 1400


A: 93 - 100%


B+: 86 - 89.9%

B: 80 - 85.9%

C+: 77 - 79.9%

C: 70 - 76.9%

D: 60 - 69.9%

F: <59.9%

COVID-19 Statement

During this pandemic period each student is expected to act in the best interest of the WU community by behaving responsibly to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. All students, faculty, and staff must wear masks inside buildings and classrooms, unless alone in a private office. All members of the campus community must follow campus guidance on masking. Please do not attend class if you have fever or any signs of the COVID virus; do not attend class if your roommate or someone you have close contact with acquires the virus and be respectful of others’ desire to remain COVID-free. Use the Patient Portal COVID-19 Health Tracker daily. Students who violate WU guidelines will be asked to comply. Continued failure to comply may result in referral to the Dean of Students Office as a student conduct violation.

COVID-Related Absence

Students should contact Health Services regarding a positive test, close contact, or enhanced COVID-like symptoms. Any student who has either tested positive, has COVID-like symptoms, or has close contact with someone who has COVID, must contact Health Services. Students should log in to the Patient Portal to schedule a TELEPHONE TRIAGE Appointment w/ COVID as the reason and upload the positive test result if applicable. Health Services will communicate with the student on what steps to take next, and if need be, the Dean of Students Office will get absence verification for required isolation and quarantine. Students who verify their absences through the Dean of Students Office often minimize any academic impact caused by missed class time. Health Services will only provide dates of absence, not medical information. Please note, residential students who test positive should also follow their personal COVID Quarantine and Isolation Plan.