Thursday, May 2, 2013

Krauss Gives Students Real Research Experience

Todd D. Krauss, Professor of Chemistry and Optics at the University of Rochester,  works with matter known as quantum dots. Smaller than one one-thousandth the width of a strand of hair, Krauss calls them “The next big thing, like the laser 50 years ago.” He works closely with students researching in his lab.

Students working in Dr. Todd Krauss’ chemistry lab can rest assured they won’t spend the summer cleaning glassware or making coffee.

“I really want to give students an experience that is similar to real research,” Krauss says. “Our lab works on everything from biotechnology to chemistry to physics to optics to physical science to engineering…Everyone has their own project. For the most part our students are doing something original.”

Krauss has three post-doctoral students, 12 graduate students and three undergraduates working in his lab and says new candidates should not feel like they need prior experience to work with him.

“Even graduate students don’t necessarily have prior experience,” he says.  “Research is about learning how to learn.”

How do students find a research position with Krauss, or other on-campus labs? “Students come by my office, approach me after a lecture, email…We welcome everybody,” Krauss says.

"This type of learning experience make PhD holders sought after for scientific research jobs as well as non-traditional careers such as in business consulting," Krauss says. “You get a problem, you research the problem, try to understand the problem, propose a way to fix the problem, test your solution, come to a conclusion and communicate your conclusion--the same as in business,” he says.

Krauss’ students have gone on to topnotch graduate schools. “It’s a testament to our undergraduate program,” he says. 

Programs like Reach, which is administered by the Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center and provides funding for unpaid internships, helps keep students on campus over the summer—the best time for student research, according to Krauss.

Over the summer students have ten weeks to focus on their project without having to worry about classes. “Thinking is an important part of research,” Krauss says. “Summer is a good time to think, you are not just scrambling to get a project done.”

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