Early exposure of undergraduates to the chemistry research environment: A new model for research universities

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In undergraduate education, a relatively small percentage of students participate in scientific research. Recently educators have suggested that research universities might better serve their undergraduates by establishing stronger connections between teaching and research. Faculty who teach large undergraduate lecture courses and also direct graduate research have the opportunity to increase undergraduate participation in research at an early stage in the students' academic career.In the project detailed herein, 29 student volunteers from second-semester organic chemistry lecture courses at the University of Arkansas participated in a one-afternoon research experience on a natural product synthesis project. Each student spent a few hours in our laboratory and performed one reaction directed toward the total synthesis of the anticancer natural product eleutherobin. The details of the student involvement in the project, progress of the student research efforts (Web version), teaching opportunities derived from the research, and some observations regarding student participation are described.

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