An important aspect of the entire four-year program in chemistry is the gradual advancement of a student toward intellectual independence. The SIP represents the culmination of that process at the undergraduate level and specifically provides each student with a sense of the dynamic quality of science and the opportunity to grow into a partner relationship with a particular faculty member or other scientist. The form of the SIP is usually an original laboratory research project, although library projects, theoretical papers, or projects in the area of chemical education are also acceptable.
Preparation for the SIP begins in the sophomore year, after students have declared the major. Sophomores are encouraged to participate in the seminar program, so that they can begin identifying their own interests and become aware of the variety of SIP opportunities.
The end of Fall Quarter of the junior year is a common time to start applying for research opportunities, as applications are often due between December and March.
The senior program begins informally during the Spring Quarter of the junior year. In addition to a regular three-course load, majors are asked to attend seminars given by departmental faculty members and others who describe their research interests and/or some career opportunities. Students are urged to begin formulating general research interest during the sophomore year and to consult on potential SIP projects with individual faculty members or other investigators.