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UCI Aerosol Photochemistry Group   
University of California at Irvine   Department of Chemistry   
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Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate students are welcome to use Aerosol Photochemistry Lab for their undergraduate research projects on a space available basis. We can accommodate about 1-3 students at any given time. The usual mechanism for this is enrollment in Chem 180/H180 (lab research) or Chem 199 (independent study). Depending on the nature of the project you will be advised either directly by Prof. Nizkorodov or by one of his graduate students. Here is the list of possible Chem 199 topics.

Pre-requisites for Chem 180, 199, and H180 students from UCI

  • We prefer junior students with some level of laboratory experience. A typical requirement is A-grade in at least two UCI chemistry laboratory courses beyond general chemistry (Chem 51LABC, 107L, 128L, 133L, 152, 153, 156,, 160, 177L, etc.). In addition, Physical Sciences GPA (calculated for all School Physical Sciences' courses) must be in excess of 3.5.
  • In some cases, we do accept freshman and sophomore students. The students must maintain a GPA of around 4.0 to be eligible for the early start of research.
  • An entrance interview with Prof. Nizkorodov and his group members is required for all students.

Academic year requirements for Chem 180, 199, and H180 students

  • You should plan to enroll for all 3 quarters (fall, winter and spring). Therefore, a good time to inquire about the availability of research position for the next fall is spring of the previous year.
  • You must pass all the necessary safety training BEFORE starting lab work and follow all the lab safety protocols.
  • You should plan to spend at least 10 hours per week on research. This requires one full day or perhaps two full afternoons that are free of classes. Construct your course schedule with that in mind.
  • You must attend weekly group meetings and other scheduled lab activities.
  • You must submit a mini-report by e-mailing Prof. Nizkorodov every Friday or Saturday. This weekly report should summarize results of your lab work during the past week. Typically, it is a Word or PowerPoint file containing description of procedures, diagrams, tables, graphs, and your notes on how to interpret the data. This is an EXAMPLE of such a report. If you did no lab work (e.g., your instrument was broken), you should read a research paper or a book chapter on the subject of your research and make a summary of that. Here is an EXAMPLE of such a paper report. Please name your report using the convention "YYYY_MM_DD_description.extension" and upload it to your folder in the group's dropbox.
  • You must keep all of your data files organized on your computer. You must do daily backups of data on a secure server (the lab has one). When you are ready to leave the group, you must transfer all of your data to the PI. Please adopt the following convention for naming your data files:
    • Put all files for the same type of the experiment in a different folder
    • File name should have the format: "YYYY_MM_DD_description.extension" for example "2018_11_02_absorption_spectra_of_TOL_SOA_in_CH3OH.xlsx"
    • If using Excel, give data columns informative names and insert many comments in the data so that others can understand what you were doing. Include relevant graphs with your data.
  • You must prepare a written report and a presentation at the end of each quarter summarizing your research accomplishments and outlining plans for the next quarter. Your report should be 3-5 pages long, and contain the most important results in the form of graphs and tables. Your presentation should be about 20 slides long, and contain all the parts that presentations usually consist of: introductions, summary of objectives, key results, discussion points, summary, and acknowledgments.
  • Students will be encouraged to apply for UROP support, present their research at the undergraduate research symposium, and submit papers to the UROP journal.
  • Your formal grade will depend on the quality of your reports, amount of work accomplished, group seminar attendance, etc. Most students who worked in the lab before earned "A" for their work.

If you are interested in such an opportunity please contact Sergey Nizkorodov well in advance. Send your resume, transcript, and a representative sample of your technical writing (e.g., one of your lab reports) with your inquiry. If you took classes with Dr. Nizkorodov before, be sure to mention it.

Summer employment for UCI undergraduate students

We occasionally (if there are available funds) have paid undergraduate research positions for full-time UCI undergraduate students who satisfy one of the following requirements:

  • They previously spent one academic year in our lab doing research for credit (Chem 180, 199, or H180)
  • They can demonstrate appropriate level of R&D training (e.g., through past industrial employment)
  • They come with they own stipends, such as the stipends provided by the UCI-SURF program.

Internships for high-school students

Internship opportunities for junior and senior high-school students are fairly limited. Please inquire by sending your resume, high-school transcript, chemistry SAT scores, and AP grades, and other pertinent information. If you are accepted for the internship, please expect to spend at least two days per week in the lab during the majority of the summer break. You will be expected to make a presentation on your project at the end of the summer.

Useful resources for people starting their research in our lab

  • Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry, by Daniel J. Jacob, Princeton University Press, 1999 - great starting book for atmospheric chemistry; available for free as an electronic resource here
  • Representative publications from the group to which undergraduate or high school students made a major contribution (each one will take you to the group's paper list where you can view the corresponding paper by clicking on the PDF link).
  • The group has a small library of books on atmospheric chemistry that can be checked from Prof. Nizkorodov.

How to request a support letter for your medical or graduate school application?

Please ask me well before the reference letter submission deadline, and provide me with instructions about where the letter is supposed to go to. In addition, I am going to need your resume, your transcript, essays you may have written for your admission application, and as much relevant information about yourself as you can provide.


Graduate Research

If you are interested in joining our group and/or AirUCI institute as a graduate student, please feel free to contact the Aerosol Photochemistry Group leader, Sergey Nizkorodov. We generally accept graduate students from the following programs: physical, analytical, atmospheric, and ChaMP. To enroll in one of these programs, you have to be admitted to graduate school at UCI through standard mechanisms. Before you join the group, you strongly encouraged to attend the group seminars, read recent publications from the group, and talk to the current group members.



Summer teacher training program in environmental chemistry

LabProf. Nizkorodov coordinates the summer teacher workshop in Environmental Chemistry for grade 8-12 science teachers. It is the main outreach effort of the AirUCI team. The program is fully sponsored by NSF. This two-week training program is focused on hands-on lab work on selected environmental monitoring problems. Supporting lectures are offered by AirUCI faculty members. Teachers are paid a stipend of $1000 for their participation. The program is limited to 20 teachers on a first-come first-serve basis. Because AirUCI does not cover transportation and living expenses, only local teachers can realistically take advantage of this program. The teacher must be employed by a K-12 state or private school and must be permanent residents or US citizens. Please refer to the class website for more information.

Other outreach activities

Prof. Nizkorodov and his group members have participated in the following activities:

  • Organizing lab tours for groups of middle-school and high-school teachers and students
  • Judging Science Fairs
  • Organizing on-site demos in various schools
  • Giving public talks on the topics of air pollution
  • Lecturing for the UCI COSMOS program (California State Summer School for Mathematics & Science)
  • Lecturing for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute


Regular Courses

Prof. Nizkorodov has taught the following courses at UCI since 2002:

Course Course Title Quarters/years Taught
Chem 1 General Chemistry 1C
General Chemistry 1B
W12, W14, S14, S15, W16
Chem H2C Honors General Chemistry H2C S16, S17
Chem 5 Scientific Computational Skills Sm09, W09, Sm08, F07, F06, S06
Chem130C Physical Chemistry Part III
Chem 151L Analytical Chemistry Lab (this course is now called M3LC) F11, F10, F09, F08
Chem 152 Instrumental Analysis Lab W06, W05, W04, W03
Chem 153 Physical Chemistry Lab S12, S11, S10, S09, S08
Chem 243 Advanced Instrumental Analysis F12, W15
Chem 245 Atmospheric Chemistry W13, F09, F04, F03, F02
Chem 180/280 Aerosol Photochemistry Group Seminars Schedule (updated quaterly)
Chem 290 Physical Chemistry Seminars S04, W04, F03
Chem X416 AirUCI Summer Training
Program for Teachers
Every summer in 2005-2014
Uni Stu 3 Freshman Seminar W13, F05, W05


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