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Michelle Richards-Babb, Ph.D.

Professor – Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies


NSF-funded REU Site: Research in Chemistry at WVU (paid opportunity)


Dr. Richards-Babb earned an ACS-certified B.S. in Chemistry from Ursinus College (1986) and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Lehigh University (1993). She arrived at West Virginia University as a Postdoctoral Fellow (1993-1994) for Dr. Lane Wilson and Dr. Nar Dalal. She transitioned to teaching large enrollment chemistry courses and then into a faculty position with research in chemical education, particularly the freshmen chemistry learning experience, undergraduate research and STEM outreach. She was the recipient of a 2013/2014 Eberly College Outstanding Teacher Award.

Michelle Richards-Babb (Co-PI) and Brian Popp (PI) administer the NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site: Research in Chemistry at West Virginia University. This site offers a unique 10-week summer research experience for chemistry and biochemistry undergraduates in a research and training environment similar to that of a graduate student. Students carry out research on projects that address fundamental questions related to the chemistry of health and catalysis in chemistry. Projects focus on the potential of research to benefit society both directly and indirectly in the fields of health care, forensics/criminology, energy, sustainability, and transportation. Room and board and a competitive stipend are offered.

NOTE: WVU students are not eligible for this WVU-based REU Site. WVU students are encouraged to apply to REU Sites at other institutions or to the WVU-based SURE Site. Another resource to search REU Sites by category (e.g. FR, SO, International, Community College, or Undocumented Students) is REU Finder.

Courses Offered

  • CHEM 110 - Preparatory Chemistry
  • CHEM 115 & CHEM 116 - Fundamentals of Chemistry I and II
  • CHEM 191 - First-Year Seminar for Chemistry Majors
  • CHEM 231 - Organic Chemistry: Brief Course
  • CHEM 233 - Organic Chemistry I
  • CHEM 401 - Chemical Literature
  • CHEM 497 - Undergraduate Research
  • CHEM 790 - Teaching Practicum for Future Faculty.

Selected Publications

Hernandez, P.R., Ferguson, C.F., Pedersen, R., Richards-Babb, M., Quedado, K, Shook, N.J. (2021) Research apprenticeship training promotes faculty-student psychological similarity and high-quality mentoring: a longitudinal quasi-experiment. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning (accepted for publication, July 2022).

Hanna, J., Carreon, H., Fultz, M., Harvey, E., Howley, C., Norton, M., Richards-Babb, M., Riley, S., Sine, A., Heatherly, S. (2021) Impact of short-duration research experiences on STEM self-efficacy among early-stage, rural, first-generation college students. Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research, 4 (4), 42-49.

Gullion, R. G., Gullion, T., Richards-Babb, M. (2019) Addressing misconceptions related to mass-matter conservation and bond energetics with a modified Gauss Accelerator. Journal of Chemical Education, 96 (4), 734-738.

Simpson, T., Chiu, Y.-C., Richards-Babb, M., Blythe, J. M., Ku, K.-M. (2019) Demonstration of allelopathy of horseradish root extract on lettuce seed. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 47 (3), 333-340.

Hernandez, P. R., Hopkins, P. D., Masters, K., Holland, L., Mei, B., Richards-Babb, M., Quedado, K. & Shook, N.J. (2018) Student integration into STEM careers and culture: A longitudinal examination of summer faculty mentors and project ownership. CBE-Life Science Education, 17 (3), 1-14.

Popp, B.V. & Richards-Babb, M. The Chemistry REU Program at West Virginia University. In Best Practices for Chemistry REU Programs; Griep, M.A., Watkins, L.M., Eds.; ACS Symposium Series 1295; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2018, pp 86-106.

Richards-Babb, M., Curtis, R., Ratcliff, B., Roy, A., & Mikalik, T. (2018) General chemistry student attitudes and success with use of online homework, traditional-responsive versus adaptive-responsive. Journal of Chemical Education, 95 (5), 691-699. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.7b00829

Chiu, Y.-C., Jenks, M., Richards-Babb, M., Ratcliff, B.B., Juvik, J.A., Ku, K.-M. (2017) Demonstrating the effect of surfactant on water retention of waxy leaf surfaces. Journal of Chemical Education, 94, 230-234. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.6b00546. (Highlighted on the cover page of the Feb. 14, 2017 of JCE.)

Richards-Babb, M., Curtis, R., Georgieva, Z., & Penn, J.H. (2015) Student perceptions of online homework use for formative assessment of learning in organic chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education92, 1813-1819.

Richards-Babb, M., Curtis, R., Smith, V., & Xu, M. (2014) Problem solving videos for general chemistry review: Students’ perceptions and use patterns. Journal of Chemical Education91, 1796-1803.

Richards-Babb, M., Penn, J.H., & Withers, M. (2014) Results of a practicum offering teaching-focused graduate student professional development. Journal of Chemical Education, 91, 1867-1873.

Richards-Babb, M. & Jackson, J.K. (2011) Gendered responses to online homework use in general chemistry. Chemistry Education Research and Practice12, 409-419.

Richards-Babb, M., Drelick, J., Henry, Z., & Robertson-Honecker, J. (2011) Online homework, help or hindrance: What students think and how they perform. Journal of College Science Teaching40(4), 70-82.

Richards-Babb, M., Carroll, R.L., & Sweeney, R.J. (2010) Ferrofluid synthesis: Concurrently teaching laboratory techniques and enhancing interest in nanoscience. The Chemical Educator15, 1-6.

Vannatta, M., Richards-Babb, M., & Sweeney, R.J. (2010) Oxalate synthesis and pyrolysis: A colorful introduction to stoichiometry. Journal of Chemical Education, 87(11), 1225-1229.

Vannatta, M., Richards-Babb, M., & Sweeney, R.J. (2010) Thermochemistry to the rescue: A novel calorimetry experiment for general chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education, 87(11), 1222-1224.

Richards-Babb, M., Bishoff, J., Carver, J.S., Fisher, K., & Robertson-Honecker. J. (2010) Keeping it safe: Chemical safety in the high school laboratory. Journal of Chemical Health and Safety17(1), 6-14.