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Classroom | Undergraduate | Graduate

How Undergraduate Research Can Benefit You

Research: the investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.

In high school, often times you are required to complete research on an assigned topic for term papers, or for labs in physics, biology or chemistry classes. But, what if you could chose to research a topic that applied to your specific interests or curiosities? What if you could be part of a team that discovers something new, or play an important part in a large-scale, in-depth project alongside cutting edge researchers?

South Dakota State University is the state’s premier research institution, with hands-on research opportunities available to both undergraduate and graduate students. Students can begin research under the direction of world-class faculty early on to gain experience, setting them up for success when pursing a future career or postgraduate degree.

SDSU to Stanford

Undergraduate students begin research after establishing connections with their professors and learning more about the work they are conducting. Interests are explored and discussed, and when the time comes to begin a new project, professors may call on those students to take part. That’s exactly what happened for Timothy Paris, who graduated from SDSU in May 2021 with bachelor’s degrees in chemistry, biochemistry and psychology.

An Organic Chemistry II course taught by assistant professor Rachel Willand-Charnley exposed Paris to research in organic chemistry. He soon found himself working with Willand-Charnley on new methods in organic chemistry that are applied to different biological processes and problems, also known as chemical biology. Paris and Willand-Charnley had their work featured on the cover of the Feb. 5 issue of the Journal of Organic Chemistry.  

The research applied directly to Paris’ interests in biotechnology and biomedicine and helped him gain years of valuable experience in the field before he began his career. Paris is now a research associate at the Medicinal Chemistry Knowledge Center at Stanford University and credits Willand-Charnley and the research opportunities for his new position.

 “(Dr. Willand-Charnley) offered me a foot in the door,” Paris said. “I did my best to get papers published and to fill my resume with great things—and she introduced me to people she collaborated with at Stanford University. There are a lot of opportunities at South Dakota State, you just have to go after them and make them happen."

Interested in becoming a student researcher at SDState? See what opportunities await you.