COVID-19 Update: Penn Summer staff are available online or by phone at (215) 898-7326. More Info & Resources >
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Chemistry Research Academy

July 1 - July 23, 2021

Applications for 2021 programs are now closed. Applications for 2022 summer programs open on December 1, 2021.

Courses offered online

Courses offered online

Non-credit program

Non-credit program


Eligibility: Current 9th-11th grade students

International students

International students welcome

Financial Aid

Financial aid for select Philadelphia students

Penn Chemistry is a leading center for molecular research and instruction, whose researchers are at the frontier of modern chemistry, tackling a wide variety of important societal challenges. The Chemistry Research Academy provides students with the foundational knowledge to understand the chemistry of cutting-edge research in the chemical sciences while offering an opportunity to interact with the scientists performing this research.

Specific topics included in the Academy will be derived from departmental research goals. Below is a list of typical topics. Scroll to the Features section for more information.

  • Hands-on laboratory experience (modified if virtual)
    • Laboratory and analytical techniques
    • Optimization of experimental methods
    • Open-ended laboratory challenges
  • Research lectures
    • Introduction to nanoscale materials
    • Chemical protein modification to study disease
    • Chemistry of the rare earth metals
    • Applications of coordination complexes
  • Classroom learning
    • Chemical bonding principles in organic and coordination chemistry
    • Analytical techniques – why and how they work
    • Materials science fundamentals and applications
  • Tours (on-campus only)
    • Science History Institute
    • Singh Center for Nanomaterials
    • Department research labs
  • Skills for independent research
    • Finding, using, and understanding research articles
    • Starting your own research project

To keep our students safe as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Penn Arts and Sciences staff is dedicated to making our high-quality programs available this summer—completely online.

If you attend a School District of Philadelphia public or charter high school, you may be eligible to attend a Penn Summer Academy free of charge with a Penn Summer Scholarship.

Get application information »


To better plan for your summer, we have outlined the following details about our program.

Daily schedule
Classes run Monday through Friday throughout the program
No class on Monday, July 5, 2021

Synchronous learning via Zoom

  • 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. EDT
  • In summer, Penn is UCT - 4

Asynchronous learning

  • About 3 hours independent or collaborative
About 50% of total class time

Synchronous and asynchronous labs

  • Simulations
  • At-home labs using inexpensive household materials (we will provide a shopping list of mostly grocery store items—about a $25 cost to the student)
Research talks

A series of Penn researchers will speak to the class. Students are encouraged to interact and ask questions throughout.

Via Zoom—all attempts will be made to schedule these during the scheduled synchronous class times

Capstone project: Throughout the academy, students will be guided through a process to choose and plan their own independent research project using Penn’s extensive online resources. They will leave with a plan they can use for entering a science fair or for meeting their high school’s independent research requirements.

Prerequisite: One year of chemistry is required.


Program Director: Dusty Carroll

Program Director: Dusty Carroll
Ms. Carroll earned her master's degree in chemistry education at the University of Pennsylvania in 2005. She taught molecular spectroscopy in Penn’s Master of Chemistry Education Program for four years and has been with the Chemistry Research Academy since its inception in 2013. During the academic year, Ms. Carroll teaches AP Chemistry and Engineering at Seneca High School in New Jersey.