Welcome to the incredible world of
chemical research in
Black Organic Research Group!!

     You are about to begin what may well be the most exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling experiences you have ever had. There is simply no substitute for using your hard-won chemical knowledge in the pursuit of new reactions - discovering and designing new ways of assembling naturally occurring compounds with proved, beneficial pharmacological activity. After just a few months in a research group, you'll never look at a reaction in a textbook the same way again!

     Scientific investigation is often difficult and discouraging, but don't worry about that - even Nobel Laureates have had extremely tough times during their laboratory discovery work. You will probably have days where it seems that everything you touch goes wrong -- but those are more than offset by unbelievably excellent times, when that reaction that's been fighting you for weeks (and with no theoretical right not to work!) - finally gives up, and does what you've been trying for! I am certain that when you look back, you will agree that the entire experience was really incredible, that the knowledge and skills you gained are invaluable to you wherever your path next takes you, and that, during your time in the group, you formed wonderful, supportive friendships that are lasting many years past your graduation from EIU.

     In the following pages, much diverse information is provided for your reference: purely scientific data (including some journal articles from our group), safety regulations, helpful hints, and a host of techniques which you will use in your adventures into synthetic organic and medicinal chemistry. I have attempted to answer many of the questions I have been asked during my 19+ years (and over 120 research students!) here at Eastern, along with many common sense items and some particularly important safety issues.

    Please read the first few pages with special care, for they tell you something about what is expected of you in a research lab during the semester or the summer. Like most things, you'll get out of it what you put in, but despite research officially being a class, it's like no other class you've ever had, and you'll never think of it as one.  However, if you're like the majority of researchers in my group, you'll find yourself wishing that your classes didn't have to interfere with your research!

     I always get a great feeling, thinking about new folks about to begin with my research group, because I know what's coming for you, how it's going to impact you, and how you'll change during your time with us. You're entering with your fresh book knowledge of organic chemistry, excited but more than a little insecure about how well you'll do, as you enter our huge laboratory, with its assortment of alien-looking equipment and signs all over the place!  Then, after one to two or so years in the group, you'll leave as an independent scientist, brimming with confidence about your abilities in the lab and your solid chemical knowledge and your new perspective on chemistry and science, ready to tackle whatever is coming next. (Even that might evolve into something unanticipated!)

     Work hard, work thoughtfully, have fun, and - most of all - work safely!

Howard Black
Professor of Organic and Medicinal Chemistry
Eastern Illinois University
Charleston, IL 61920-3099