I do research with undergraduates because
- Undergraduate research inspired me to be a chemist.
- I believe that the skills required in research (recall, synthesis) improve a student’s understanding of molecular processes better than any other tool I have to offer (Make it Stick)
- Laboratory alone cannot teach students what it is like to be a chemist. There is not enough time and the student/instructor ratio is too high.
- The collaborative student/professor relationship opens the door for long-term mentoring relationships.
- I love the facial expressions and voice inflections of students when they make connections
- I want to share the pleasure of finding things out (Feynman)
No, my students don’t know everything they need to know to be independent. I don’t expect them to be independent for more than a few hours at a time.
Yes, it would be faster if I did it myself. But I really truly mean what I say that publishing is only a natural outcome of the teaching process and not the goal in itself. Unfortunately, I won’t get to teach every student how to publish a paper, but I will get to teach more students about the research process.
I work with students so that I can provide a deep and meaningful insight into chemistry (why) by working side-by-side with students, ideally over several years (how) on projects related to oxidation catalysis with manganese and iron (what). The what makes no sense without the why.