Welcome to the Emmert lab homepage - MQP information

Dear prospective MQP students,
Probably you have clicked on this link because you are interested in spending 3 terms as an MQP student in our laboratory. I have summarized below a couple of things you should know before contacting me - so that your MQP experience can be successful in our research laboratory.

1) We are a research-active, synthetic chemistry lab. That means that lots of skills and information need to be acquired before your MQP in order for you to be successful and generate useful data from day 1. Unfortunately, your teaching labs don't prepare you quite enough for working in research. The following skills are crucial to have before starting an MQP:

          Be familiar with literature search through SciFinder and Reaxys. You need to know how to perform searches comparing commercial availability of chemicals and preparations of a product and know how to find and interpret spectral and other analytical data (NMR, IR).
          Know how to find MSDS and safety information about each chemical. Learn how to work safely (lab coat, goggles, gloves) in the lab and to distinguish and respect glove- and non-glove-areas.
          Know how to write a lab journal and why. Your lab journal is the most important product of your MQP. If you are not familiar with lab journals (also called lab books or laboratory note books), you need to learn how to write one.
          Be familiar with the basic purification techniques of recrystallization, thin layer and column chromatography, and distillation.
          Have some basic knowledge about organometallic chemistry and catalysis. The book "The organometallic chemistry of the transition metals" by Robert H. Crabtree can be borrowed from me for this purpose.

2) As you have probably noticed, few of the things above are taught in detail in your other courses. Therefore: contact me far in advance (best is during your freshman or sophomore year), so that you can start volunteering in the lab and collect experience and knowledge. You are expected to be in the lab for a minimum of 4 h/week during the terms. In the summer and during break weeks, you should use your time more flexible - meaning dedicating more time to research during a break! Our work never stops - and neither does the work of graduate students and postdocs.

3) Every undergraduate student in the lab will initially work with a more experienced person (MQP student, graduate student, postdoc) in order for you to pick up the most important skills in research.

4) MQP students are expected to be in the lab as much as possible. You will not be able to write a nice MQP thesis when you plan on 3 x 7 weeks with 20 h/week in the lab. Unfortunately, research takes a long time. Therefore, make as much time as possible for learning in the lab before
and during your official MQP time.

5) MQP students are expected to be present at group meetings. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to be there as well. In group meetings, current literature, our own research, and organometallic reaction mechanisms are taught. This is your chance to ask questions! In general, these seminar-style meetings prepare you to think scientifically - beyond your own project and beyond problems with given answers. Furthermore, your own research will be put in the context of what other groups in the field are working on and how your own research fits in the bigger picture of how research can benefit society.

Research is fun - but it is also hard and needs dedication from your side. If you are willing to invest time and effort, you will realize quickly that there is a lot to explore, gain, and learn; assembling a stronger CV through papers and presentations is also not to be underestimated! However, if you search for an "easy" MQP project, our lab is not the right place for you.

I hope you still strive to explore the limits of knowledge - and if you do, don't hesitate to contact me. I will be happy to set up a meeting with you at your earliest convenience. However, make sure you do so as far in advance of your senior year as possible. The 4-5 MQP slots in our lab are usually taken quickly, since people who have been working in the lab for a long time are typically granted preference.

Marion Emmert