CHOPs group photo 2017

Chemistry Opportunities (CHOPs)

CHOPs will be held September 23rd-26th, 2021. Applications for the in-person event are now closed. Applications submitted after the July 9th deadline will still be reviewed for acceptance into the virtual program. Once you submit a completed application, please allow a few weeks for a response. Questions may be directed to Desiree Bates at


The Chemistry Opportunities (CHOPS) program invites approximately 20 highly qualified prospective students to the UW-Madison Chemistry Department for an all-expense-paid weekend to explore the chemistry Ph.D. graduate program. CHOPS was first launched fall 2012 at the UW-Madison Chemistry Department.

Applying for CHOPs

Applications for the in-person event are now closed. Applications submitted after the July 9th deadline will still be reviewed for acceptance into the virtual program. Those selected to participate will be notified during the summer.

Information on the CHOPs Application


This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Why apply for CHOPs?

During the CHOPS preview weekend, you will have the opportunity to explore the UW-Madison graduate program in chemistry. You will not only get to interact with faculty, staff, and current graduate students in an informal setting, but also will get the opportunity to explore the friendly and diverse city of Madison. Learn more about applying for CHOPS.

Who can participate?

Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are recent college graduates, or students with junior or senior status who will graduate no later than spring 2023. Preference will be given to students who are African American, Hispanic, Native American, Southeast Asian, Native Alaskan, or Native Pacific Islander; students from low-income homes; or students who are first-generation college students. All applicants must intend to apply for admission to the UW-Madison graduate program in chemistry for the 2022-23 or 2023-24 academic year.

What to expect during the CHOPS weekend

Through CHOPS, you will get a great sense of what it’s like to be a graduate student in the Chemistry Department at UW-Madison, as well as what it’s like to live in Madison. During the weekend, participants have the opportunity to:

  • Take tours of the research facilities in the Chemistry Department and across the UW-Madison campus
  • Meet with the research faculty and current chemistry graduate students
  • Get an overview of the chemistry graduate program
  • Ask questions about how to prepare a competitive graduate school application
  • Take part in planned Madison activities

CHOPs (in-person) weekend schedule (Virtual event schedule to be announced)

Thursday Evening

  • Arrive at Dane County Regional Airport
  • Check-in to hotel
  • Welcome dinner with graduate student hosts and an overview talk about UW-Madison


  • Breakfast and welcome talk with the department chair
  • Faculty research presentations
  • Microscopy workshops/facility tours
  • Individual meetings with faculty
  • Lunch with faculty
  • Poster session and social hour
  • Dinner


  • Breakfast and presentation on attending graduate school at UW-Madison and the application process.
  • Tour of Madison
  • Dinner


  • Depart for home

Cost to attend

All visit expenses — including travel, lodging, and on-campus meals — will be covered for students selected to participate in CHOPs.

Timeline for application and participant selection

Applications are accepted until July 9th, 2021 for participation in the in-person event. Applications submitted after that deadline will still be reviewed for acceptance into the virtual program. The CHOPS 2021 event will be held September 23rd-26th, 2021.  Applicants selected to participate will be notified by email.

CHOPS participants also receive an application fee waiver for the UW-Madison Graduate School online application.

Meet the CHOPs Team!

Arrietta Clauss

Portrait of Dr. Arrietta Clauss smiling

I am the Director of the Chemistry Graduate Program Office and work closely with the faculty and graduate students. My office helps to admit students, ensure that the students meet their requirements, and are equipped to take the next step after graduate school. The chemistry department is a vibrate organization, but is only as good as it parts. I firmly believe that diversity along many lines makes an organization fuller and able to better meet the needs of a changing world. CHOPs is a way that we strive to achieve diversity and enhance the department. I enjoy working with CHOPs, meeting the fantastic students who apply and helping them achieve their goals as research chemists.

Andrew Buller

Portrait of Professor Andrew Buller smiling

I am an Assistant Professor in the Chemistry department and additionally a trainer for the Integrated Program in Biochemistry and the Biophysics graduate program. Research in my group focuses on developing and understanding enzymes as practical catalysts for organic chemistry. I am fortunate to have a job that is my passion, I love science and teaching it to others. Outside of work, I like to go for jogs and walks with my wife, reading, and playing board games. I am fortunate to be a third generation college graduate and I benefited from a lot of informal guidance from my parents during my education. As a CHOPS member, I want to help make applying for and getting accepted into graduate school as low-barrier as possible so that everyone who is driven by the joy of discovery can continue their journey.

Sam Pazicni 

Portrait of Professor Sam Pazicni smiling

I am a faculty member in the Chemistry Department and I lead a research group focused on chemistry education. Outside of the lab, I enjoy music and theatre, cooking extravagant things, and exploring the world. As a first-generation college student and a graduate of a small undergraduate institution, I see the power of CHOPs. Graduate work at a large research institution was a brand new world for me and (at the time) there were few structures in place to support my transition. I eventually figured things out, but I am glad to see programs like CHOPs here at UW–Madison that help!  

Desiree Bates

Portrait of Dr. Desiree Bates smiling

I am the computational chemistry director for the department of chemistry. I am very passionate about equitable means for higher education. As a POC within STEM, I feel a responsibility to create a more equitable system for marginalized populations to have access to education. Outside of my career, I have a wonderful family. We love to paddle board and be on the water during the summers and watch hockey games all winter. Feel free to contact me at anytime for help along your educational path.

Rob McClain

Portrait of Dr. Rob McClain smiling

I am a Laboratory Director for the Analytical Sciences Division at UW Chemistry. I am responsible for the laboratory component of our advanced undergraduate and graduate instrumentation courses. I work closely with first year analytical graduate students and CHOPs is a great tool for recruiting outstanding students to come to UW and take my lab courses.

Mike Schwartz

Portrait of Dr. Mike Schwartz smiling

I’m the Managing Director for the NSF Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, which is a center based in the UW-Madison Chemistry Department, and which has member labs that are distributed across the country. I have been involved with CHOPs since I first learned about it after joining the department in 2016. I really enjoy meeting CHOPs students and learning their stories, and participating in this program has been one of the best parts of my job.

Taylor Mathewson 

Portrait of Taylor Mathewson smiling

I am the Graduate Program Coordinator for the Chemistry Department. The Graduate Program Office works closely with graduate students throughout their academic careers starting with the admission process all the way through graduation. I became involved with CHOPs when I joined the department in 2020 and love being part of such a wonderful team. As a first-generation graduate student and someone whose parents were nontraditional college students, I had no reference point for what being a graduate student at a large research institution would be like and felt very unprepared and overwhelmed. I eventually made it through, but looking back, my graduate school experience probably would have been very different if I had access to a program such as CHOPs. I am glad that our department offers CHOPs and to be a part of such a supportive program.

Zac Dyott

I am a 5th year graduate student in Ned Sibert’s group. I currently study and develop theoretical methods to investigate dynamics of condensed phase systems. I was a CHOPs participant in 2016 and was so thrilled with my visit that I decided to join the department of chemistry in 2017. Since then I have played many roles in the department ranging from mentee to mentor to organizer across all kinds of student-facing organizations like Catalyst, the GSFLC, and CHOPs. I’m passionate about helping students, especially first-generation students like myself, navigate the graduate school process from start to finish. Creating a truly equitable and meaningful experience for all students is one of my biggest goals, and I hope to leave a mark with my participation and advocacy. 

Summer Sherman: 

Hi Everyone! My name is Summer Sherman and I am a 5th year Graduate Student in Etienne Garand’s research group. My primary research focus is on cryogenicSummer Sherman cheesing and showing off her gorgeous engagement ring ion vibrational spectroscopy of microsolvated small peptides. I joined the CHOPs team in 2018 and have been working behind the scenes ever since! CHOPs is really special to me because it is a program that I would have loved to have participated in when I was an undergraduate since I am a first generation college student whose mother is an immigrant to this country from Argentina, and so I had no idea about ANYTHING in graduate school. I feel that it is important to have these programs in general, but especially for those who do not have people around them that have been involved in higher education.

Sophya Alamudun

Portrait of Sophya Alamudun smiling

I am a second year graduate student on the materials chemistry path. I’m part of the Choi research group and my work focuses on discovering solar cell materials for hydrogen fuel production. I joined the CHOPs team because I enjoy helping students through the tough decision making process of if graduate school is right for them and what program is the best fit. I benefited from these types of programs when I was considering grad schools and hope that I can help others now.


Applications for the in-person event are now closed. Applications submitted after the July 9th deadline will still be reviewed for acceptance into the virtual program. Once you submit a completed application, please allow a few weeks for a response. Questions may be directed to Desiree Bates at

Enter your information below to receive information about CHOPS 2021 and a link to the application.


The CHOPS program is possible because of generous support from the UW-Madison Department of Chemistry, P&G and The Dow Chemical Company.