Why Do Research?
Conducting research as an undergraduate is an excellent way to gain experiences and skills that will benefit you both academically and professionally. In addition to exploring your areas of interest in-depth, undergraduate research develops skills in collaborative learning and critical thinking. For students interested in pursuing grad school, undergraduate research is a way of expanding your education outside of the classroom and better preparing yourself for the rigors of graduate study. Even if you are unsure about graduate studies, conducting undergraduate research is a way of exploring your research interests and testing the suitability of a research career to your interests.

How to Prepare for Undergraduate Research

SRP 99 courses are where many students begin doing research. In SRP 99 courses, students work in a faculty mentor's lab assisting in hands-on research. Taking on research in addition to your regular course load requires excellent time management skills. The URC recommends that freshman students wait a year before beginning SRP and incoming transfer students wait at least one quarter before beginning SRP.

Some questions to ask yourself as you plan your research are:
  • How much time can I commit to conducting research?
  • Will I need financial support to conduct research throughout the summer and academic year?
  • What kind of research work interests me?
  • What do I want to gain from my research experience?
  • How can I best prepare myself academically and professionally to do research?
  • What safety courses will I need to take to do research in my field or lab?

The better you plan your academic coursework, the better you will be able to organize your time for research. Whatever your future professional and academic plans, gaining experience in research through 99 courses will enhance your application and your preparedness for more self-directed research.

URC-Sciences offers a variety of different programs for students interested in continuing research beyond SRP 99, with varying eligibility requirements, expectations, and application deadlines. You can view information on these programs by browsing our website (see the Research Scholarships and Programs menu to the left), and use this information to prepare yourself for the rigors of more intensive research programs.

Once you have evaluated your research interests and organized your time, the next step is finding a faculty mentor. As part of a collaborative research team, you will need to find the right position both for you and your potential research lab.

For further resources on starting research, see the What is the Student Research Program? and Finding a Faculty Mentor pages.