Earning Distinction in Chemistry

Goals of the Distinction Process

The Departmental Distinction program in chemistry seeks to encourage and recognize students who give evidence of creative and independent scholarship.  The process of attaining distinction in chemistry is designed to teach science and to communicate science effectively.  A variety of opportunities exist by which students can take a greater responsibility for their own education.  In particular, the Chemistry Department wishes to encourage students to move beyond the theory and structured laboratory setting of academic chemistry and into the realm of chemical research.

Students who wish to pursue graduation with distinction in chemistry will be motivated to do so for different reasons.  In some instances, the skills and knowledge students gain by going through the process for distinction could play an important role in making a transition to their chosen post-graduation activity.  Therefore, the department encourages students to consider their reasons for pursuing distinction in relation to their future plans.  If a student plans to seek employment as a chemical scientist or admission to certain graduate or professional programs, it may be advantageous to complete the requirements for distinction before interviewing.   In such cases, we encourage students to complete elements 1-3 (and maybe 4, below) early enough in the senior year (or in the junior year) so that the application process for post-graduate education or employment can take advantage of the student’s involvement in the distinction process.  Imagine going to a job interview armed with the final draft of a distinction paper to show and/or talk about.  Imagine interviewing for admission to a graduate program and being able to offer concrete evidence of your ability to write and talk about chemistry.  Imagine the letters of recommendation that the chemistry faculty can produce when you have completed the process of research, writing, and oral communication that are a part of the process of gaining distinction.

Explore the following links to learn about the distinction process.

Qualifications necessary for pursuing distinction.

The required elements of the distinction process:
1. Participation in an experiential learning activity or project.
2. Production of a formal paper describing the project, usually in journal format.
3. Oral presentation of the paper to a small committee of faculty.
4. Public oral presentation of the work.

Timeline for the completion of the distinction process.