P645: Incorporating authentic research in an optional component of the second semester organic laboratory course
Our 6-hour/week two-semester organic chemistry laboratory sequence has long included a half-semester, three-step, independent synthesis project at the end of the second semester course. Over the past two decades this has transitioned from a mandatory, closely controlled suite of projects tied to a central organic ‘theme’ that varied from year to year, to an elective and increasingly independent set of projects tied to a wide variety of ongoing faculty research programs across chemistry and beyond. This has allowed faculty to leverage this course to advance their research as well as students’ learning, and has drawn targets from most of the faculty in the chemistry department and some from other STEM disciplines. Students gain exposure to and connection with authentic faculty research, providing some a springboard to future research engagement, and have the satisfaction of contributing to ongoing work rather than to a waste container. Students begin with a literature search workshop, select a target, and develop a synthetic plan. They craft a research proposal including a list of chemicals, hazards, and equipment. The necessary reagents and equipment are gathered over spring break. In the final five weeks of the semester, students execute the multistep synthesis with complete purification and characterization of intermediates, and prepare a comprehensive written report. Our anecdotal experiences, breadth of targets, student outcomes, and CURE survey data will be presented.