Taking Honors Research Credits in The Chemistry Department
By Dr. Jun H. Shin, Associate Professor, Chemistry
“Me, take an Honors class?” Many students may think or ask ‘Does it require extra assignments and is it more difficult than the regular section?” or “there will be many good students so it may be difficult to get an A” or ‘do I need it?’ The answers for these questions are: ‘Yes, you will need extra time for the assignments’, ‘Yes, there are many good students in the class.’, and ‘Yes, you need it because this will provide tremendous opportunities to you.’
Every semester I work with 2-4 students who register in our Honors CH-911-914 courses. These are Honors research courses (i.e., undergraduate research courses), and each student conducts independent research on his/her own project. They spend at least four hours per week during spring/fall semesters which is a requirement of the course, but they also willingly spend more time because they feel it is worth doing. Their research results are presented at professional American Chemical Society Conferences (both regional and national) either via an oral or poster presentation (see http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/chemistry/presentations.html and http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/chemistry/photos.html).
What can these students obtain from these courses and presentations? There are lots of benefits, such as,(i) they can build up their confidence through the process of research work and presentation,(ii) they have a good chance to be accepted to a summer National Science Foundation – Research Experience for Undergraduate (NSF-REU) program. Considering that such as REUs are extremely competitive and very rare for community college students to be accepted, it is amazing that many of our Honors students have succeeded (see the list of our Chemistry REU students who are beneficiary of this opportunity http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/chemistry/REU_Students.html) and(iii) they can improve their resume which will allow them to transfer to a better college and get a better crack at scholarship (see http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/chemistry/beyondQCC.html#Colleges )
Conducting research not only improves the student’s resume, but it also builds up confidence and helps him/her discover the potential never even imagined before. I have observed these conversions for 12 years and I am also seeing with my new students right now. When they first came they were very shy and not confident until they began the Honors research course (CH-911). However as time passed they were transformed completely and each gave an excellent oral presentation in front of many audiences. In the Honors class, students will find the opportunity for improvement as well as the experience which they never thought they would ever have.