NCSSM Morganton

Research in Chemistry

Learn more in the Research in Biology breakout room at the Research in Science interest meeting on
Thursday, September 21 from 7:30-8:30 PM at AC2116

About Research in Chemistry ("RChem")

Research in Chemistry is a course for students who are interested in learning about the research process, how to independently design and execute a chemistry research project, and deepen their knowledge of an area of chemistry that excites them. 

What would I do in the program?

During the January term students will learn how to read scientific journal articles and design experiments.  In the spring semester, students will write a literature review on their individual topic of interest as well as a research proposal.  Concurrently students will learn advanced chemistry researching techniques, both in the laboratory and computationally, and begin their research.  In the fall semester students will complete their research, and produce a research paper, poster and oral presentation, the three main methods scientists use to communicate their work.

How do I know this program is a good fit for me? 

Students in this program should be passionate about chemistry and able to work independently.  They should have good time management and strong problem-solving and critical thinking skills.  Research can be frustrating as there is often no “right” answer.  A strong interest in what you are studying will go a long way to help you during those periods when your experiments are not going as you planned.  This class is designed to teach you how to go through the entire process of research from formulating a hypothesis to presenting your findings.  No prior research experience is required!  Only a passion for chemistry! 

What projects have past / current students worked on?

Research in Chemistry is NEW in Morganton this year! 

Be a part of our first research class and have your projects listed here soon.

Application Deadline

September 29,
12:00 PM (Noon)


Junior J-Term,
Junior Spring,
& Senior Fall


3-Week Summer Session &
Two Semesters

Course Information

 CH4920, J-Term
CH4921 & CH4922, Academic Year

Tandy Grubbs, NCSSM Morganton Instructor of Chemistry

Tandy Grubbs joined NCSSM in July 2023 as an Instructor of Chemistry on our Morganton campus. Trained as a physical chemist, his expertise bridges the areas of experimental and computational chemistry and physics. Prior to joining NCSSM, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship within the Molecular Physics Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and subsequently joined the faculty at Stetson University (DeLand, FL) where he taught a variety of introductory and advanced chemistry courses. In 2010, he was selected to receive the American Chemical Society (ACS) Orlando Florida Section Outstanding College Teaching Award. Born and raised in Winston-Salem, NC, his current scholarly interests include computational modeling, neural networks for deep learning, environmental sustainability, laser interferometry, and 3D printing and prototyping. He earned his bachelor's in chemistry from High Point University, and his doctorate in physical chemistry from Duke University. In his spare time, Tandy enjoys exploring the mountains of NC with his wife (Sue), running, and cooking.

Course Descriptions

CH4920 Research Chem I (*R*)

Prerequisite(s): By application in the Fall of the Junior year.

Corequisite(s): None

Graduation Requirements Met: January Term

Schedule Requirements Met: January Term

Meeting Times: Two week intensive January Term

This is an advanced course for January Term junior students with the maturity, independence, and motivation necessary to conduct their own research project. Students learn the scientific method and experimental design before conducting a trial experiment on a small scale. Students then write a mini- literature review on the topic of interest to them. Throughout the term students read from the primary scientific literature and participate in discussion groups on current issues in biological research. Students with a final grade of P or higher are expected to continue in Research in Chemistry II. This course includes a significant research component.

CH4921 Research Chem II (*R*)

Prerequisite(s): Students with Junior standing apply in the Fall for entry in RChem I taught during the 1st two weeks of Jan Term.

Corequisite(s): None

Graduation Requirements Met: One STEM credit OR One Chemistry credit

Schedule Requirements Met: One of five courses required each semester

Meeting Times: Seven periods per week and three labs

This is an advanced course for second semester junior students who have completed the CH4920. Students write a detailed research proposal. Students begin to learn additional techniques and to gather data for their experiments. Based on the outcomes of the term's work, students may be given an opportunity to participate in summer research programs on campus. Students with a final grade of B or higher are expected to continue in CH4922 Research in Chemistry III. This course includes a significant research component. This course includes topics that satisfy the chemistry graduation requirement.

CH4922 Research Chem III (*R*)

Prerequisite(s): Final grade of B or higher in Research in Chemistry II, or successful participation in a summer research program and permission of the Dean of Science.

Corequisite(s): None

Graduation Requirements Met: One STEM credit

Schedule Requirements Met: One of five courses required each semester

Meeting Times: Seven periods per week and three labs

Students continue work on their previous research to produce additional data and conduct statistical analysis, as needed. They may research extension questions based on their original work. Students write a formal research paper and prepare a formal presentation. Students are required to present their results at the NCSSM Research Symposium in the spring and are encouraged to present their research at the North Carolina Student Academy of Science competition and other competitions. This course includes a significant research component.