2016 Official Rules


The MCF Undergraduate Award is designed to encourage undergraduates to become involved in all aspects of a scientific research project, from the formulation of a research proposal through completion of the actual work and presentation of the results.  The program is aimed at individuals not yet in graduate school, since they may have limited opportunities to conduct research.  In order to be considered for the award, an undergraduate, under the sponsorship of a faculty member from a recognized institution, must submit a research proposal for a project in which chromatography or some other form of separation science plays an important role.

A panel of at least three reviewers will choose what it feels is the best proposal, based on the criteria listed below, and an award of no less than $4,000.00 will be awarded to the undergraduate.  The winner of the award will be notified in early March, 2016 with a check presentation at the 2016 MCF Spring Symposium in May.  The research must be completed by, and the results presented at, the 2017 MCF Spring Symposium.  The research may be done as a summer project, as part of an undergraduate research course taken for credit, or in any other manner approved by the faculty sponsor.


Any undergraduate student, regardless of major, who is enrolled in a college, university or technical institute, is eligible.  Anyone who is not now enrolled but who plans to be while the research is being conducted is also eligible.  Undergraduate students who are graduating this year but who plan to do their research this summer are eligible.


Any faculty member of a science, math, or engineering department at a college, university or technical institute can act as a sponsor.


The research project must be one in which chromatography or some other separation technique (electrophoresis, mass spectrometry, etc.) plays an important role.  The proposed work should be brief enough to be completed in a relatively short time.  For example, a project that can be completed during the time allowed for research in an “Introduction to Research” course.

Projects directly involved in separation science, as well as projects in which separation techniques are used to solve problems in chemistry, biology or some other area, are encouraged.  Projects on the theory of separation science and on the use of computers in separation science are also encouraged. The topic may be an original, short proposal or a short project that supports a long-term research project of an advisor or faculty sponsor.

Proposals will be judged on creativity, originality and the likelihood of success, but not on the sophistication of the equipment to be used.  Hence, a project involving TLC has an equal chance of being selected as one involving mass spectrometry.  While only one award will be awarded, the same undergraduate may submit more than one proposal.


The review panel will consist of at least three judges who have had significant experience in chromatography or a related science.  Panel members will be from academia and industry and are approved by the MCF Board of Directors. Panel members cannot serve as faculty sponsors.  All decisions of the panel pertaining to the selection of the winning proposal are final.


The research proposal should be brief and to the point.  While no specific format is required, the following must be included in each submitted proposal:

  • A cover page containing a descriptive title of the project and contact information for the undergraduate student (school mailing address, email address, and a permanent mailing address),
  • An introduction, including a statement of what question(s) the proposed research will answer, and a brief description of related work with pertinent references,
  • A description of the proposed work,
  • A brief memo of support from the faculty sponsor that includes a description of when and where the research will be performed,
  • A two-page resume of the faculty sponsor containing name, address, telephone number, email address, school and department,
  • A cover letter stating that the written proposal is the work of the undergraduate (faculty guidance in formulating the proposal is allowed) and that the faculty member agrees to be the sponsor.  Both the undergraduate and the faculty sponsor must sign the letter.
  • All of the above materials, including the letter and resume from the faculty sponsor, should be combined into a single .pdf file and emailed to the MCF UGA program chair (see below)


All proposals must be received via email by Monday, February 15, 2016.  This allows time for review of the proposals and to contact the winner by mid March 2016.   In most cases, review comments will be sent to all applicants.


The winning proposal will be announced in the MCF Newsletter and presentation of the award will take place during the 2016 Minnesota Chromatography Forum Spring Symposium on Wednesday, May 4, 2016. Travel expenses related to the award announcement at the 2016 Spring Symposium are the responsibility of the undergraduate’s educational institution.  Thus, the award winner’s attendance is optional, though definitely encouraged.


The MCF will award at least $4,000.00 to the undergraduate submitting the winning proposal, with the stipulation that the research is completed before the 2016 MCF Spring Symposium.  Both the undergraduate and faculty sponsor receive complementary registration for the 2016 and 2017 spring symposia and a two-year membership in the MCF.

The research results of the winning proposal will be presented in the regular session of the 2016 MCF Spring Symposium in May (approximately a 20 minute presentation).  In the event that the awardee cannot attend the 2016 Spring Symposium, the faculty sponsor may present the results.  The Minnesota Chromatography Forum makes no claims on the results of the research. The MCF will reimburse the undergraduate submitting the winning proposal for mileage and one night’s lodging in order to present the results of their work at the 2017 MCF Spring Symposium.


As indicated above, all materials for the proposal should be combined into a single .pdf file and emailed to the program chair, Dr. Tony Borgerding, at ajborgerding@stthomas.edu


Inquiries about this research award should be directed to:

Dr. Tony Borgerding, Chair MCF UGA Committee
University of St. Thomas Chemistry Department
2115 Summit Avenue, Mail # OSS 402
St. Paul, MN  55105