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Research plays a powerful and important pedagogical role in preparing students for success in their future scientific careers. By grappling with research problems framed as projects, and personally experiencing the frustrations and triumphs of such activities, a student will likely learn more about the field than by any other means.
Research projects in Thamattoor’s lab are developed with the undergraduate student in mind. They are carefully designed to address important questions in contemporary organic chemistry, have a high “education content,” and be compatible with the experience-level of the students. Specifically, the projects are intended to teach students to: (a) design and set up experiments, (b) synthesize, purify, and analyze compounds, (c) use research grade instruments and other experimental equipment to obtain data, (d) become proficient in modern computational methods, (e) retrieve information from the chemical literature, (f) interpret results, (g) work collaboratively with other scientists (h) write reports, (i) give oral presentations, and (j) publish their work in peer-reviewed journals. An especially important aspect of the lab’s educational goals is to help students realize their maximum potential in a friendly, supportive, and nurturing environment.
Over the years, the Thamattoor lab has established a vigorous undergraduate-driven research program. So far more than eighty students have worked in the group on a variety of challenging research projects resulting in peer-reviewed publications, and presentations at national and international meetings. The program has attracted substantial external funding from private and federal agencies such as Research Corporation for Science Advancement, The Petroleum Research Fund administered by the American Chemical Society, and the National Science Foundation.