International Research Experiences for Students


The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has been awarded a three-year grant from the International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) Program of the National Science Foundation, starting in 2018. It will support second or third-year PhD students and sophomore or junior undergraduate students to do research at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. Graduate and undergraduate students will spend 16 and 10 weeks, respectively, beginning in May of each year. Participants may be chemists or biochemists and must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

The theme of the students’ projects will be development of new methods in catalysis (broadly defined), encompassing organic, inorganic, organometallic, physical and analytical chemistry. The principal mentors at the University of Heidelberg are Profs. Peter Comba (Computational Chemistry), Lutz Gade (Inorganic Chemistry), Stephen Hashmi (Organic Chemistry), and Dirk‐Peter Herten (Physical and Analytical Chemistry). Available topics include a blend of computational and experimental projects. For example, new ligands, methodology and mechanisms in homogeneous gold catalysis, chiral catalysts with polydentate ligands, oxidation with high‐valent transition metals and mechanistic investigations at the single‐molecule level will be studied using a variety of synthetic, structural, computational and analytical techniques. In addition to the three fellowships for graduate students and two fellowships for undergraduate students in the area of catalysis, two more undergraduate fellowships funded by the College of Science are available in any area of chemistry or biochemistry at the University of Heidelberg.

The participating students will further their knowledge of advanced computational and/or experimental methods, present their research in an international setting, and write reports and manuscripts for publication. The students will also benefit from exposure to the culture of another technologically advanced country. Upon returning to Notre Dame, the students will be encouraged to implement their newly gained knowledge and techniques in their ongoing research projects. Together with their Notre Dame research advisors, the students will also be encouraged to maintain collaborations with the German collaborators.

Interested students are encouraged to speak with previous IRES participants to learn more about their experiences in prior years of the program.

The program includes support for the following:

  • airfare allowance for round trip travel between Chicago and Frankfurt
  • summer stipend
  • living expense allowance in addition to stipend
  • costs of laboratory supplies

There will be an information session on October 1, from 3‐5 pm in B01 McCourtney, where students from last year will present some of the work they did in Heidelberg and talk about their experience. Additional information on the program can be obtained from the program directors, Olaf Wiest and Paul Helquist.

Applications are due Wednesday, October 31. Application forms and further information can be obtained from the program director at It is to be completed by the student and the student’s Notre Dame dissertation or undergraduate research advisor. Decisions on admission into the program will be made in early November.