CH420 and Research in the Curriculum

Students working in the hoop houseThe Medicinal Plant Chemistry program at Northern Michigan University is not only unique in its scope and content, but has been designed and organized to promote maximum support and student success through mixed cohorts and a year-long capstone experience. 

Incoming freshman will join an inclusive cohort of peers in the winter semester for the Medicinal Plant Chemistry Seminar course. This course includes freshman enrolled in CH 189, sophomores enrolled in CH 289 and juniors enrolled in CH 389. This course combines first, second, and third year students for general discussions on the state of the industry; introductions to searching, interpreting, and presenting published literature; and attending research presentations from the graduating seniors.  Third year students enrolled in CH 389 will additionally design formal research project proposals, to be reviewed and critiqued by their second and first year peers. In this way, lower level students learn from their peers and are better prepared to reverse roles in their third year, providing cohesion and peer-to-peer support throughout the duration of the program.

The capstone series of CH 420 Medicinal Plant Chemistry I and CH 421 Medicinal Plant Chemistry II will be taken sequentially in the fall and winter semesters of the fourth and final year in the program, and will explore advanced concepts and apply state-of-the-art techniques associated with the discipline.  The lecture component of the course will provide an in-depth examination of the various classes of bioactive compounds and their plant origins, secondary metabolite chemistry, theories of extraction and sample preparation, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry theory and operation, and good laboratory practices (ISO/IEC 17025).  Additionally, the year-long capstone experience will allow sufficient time in the laboratory for students to execute the research projects previously designed in CH 389.  Such projects may involve planting of seeds or clones in the greenhouse or grow room, ongoing maintenance of the plants while developing quantitative analytical methods for targeted analyte compounds, harvesting and preparation of the plants for analysis, instrumental analysis of samples, and statistical processing of results.   Finally, the capstone experience culminates with a research seminar where the students present their findings to the Medicinal Plant Chemistry Seminar students and to the Department.

For more information, contact Dr. Mark Paulsen, Department Head, chemistry department.