The Office of Undergraduate Research is committed to supporting our students and advancing the mission of the College of Science by connecting next-generation scientists to groundbreaking research opportunities throughout their academic career. Participation in research provides students with the opportunity to work with world-class faculty, practice foundational scientific methods, and to develop teamwork, problem-solving, and communication skills.
Become part of world-class research
The College of Science encourages undergraduates to reach beyond the traditional classroom learning and enhance their education by participating in hands-on learning through a research experience. In collaborations with faculty, graduate students, technical staff, and peers, undergrads have the opportunity to become part of the process of discovering new information and technologies while working on real world problems. Take a step beyond the classroom and become part of world-class research ranging from the search for life on Mars to the study of complex diseases such as cancer.
Getting Involved in Undergraduate Research
Why should you participate in undergraduate research?
As a land-grant, AAU, and research-one university, The University of Arizona and the College of Science offer a vast array of undergraduate research experiences for its students. Undergraduates at the College of Science have access to world-class research and faculty to engage in valuable experiential learning opportunities.
Undergraduate students who engage in research during their academic career are given the opportunity to:
- Gain deeper understanding of science through hands-on experiences
- Get experience in, and connect deeply with, their field
- Work side-by-side and network with world-class faculty and other undergraduate and graduate students
- Develop valuable critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork skills that future employers and graduate schools are looking for
- Make significant advances in their field while early in their career; several students have been published before graduating!
How to get started in undergraduate research
Before you explore undergraduate research opportunities, ask yourself, what do hope to get out of the experience? Are you hoping to get any experience, or find a good resume builder? Do you wish to network with faculty members, researchers, graduate students, and other undergraduate students? Do you have specific skills you want to develop through a research experience? Perhaps you have scientific questions you’ve always wanted to answer. Or are you just genuinely curious and want to explore what research is like?
In the next step in your journey to connect to research take an inventory of your interests. We recommend you create a list to visualize your “data.” Ask yourself:
- What were your favorite classes (in high school and in college)?
- Do you look forward to taking particular courses in your major?
- Do certain tracks, areas, or specialties related to your major interested you?
- What areas interest you outside of your major?
- Are there any opportunities to collaborate with major interests and interests outside of your major?
There are many ways for undergraduate students to get involved in research. Options for involvement include:
- Directed research courses (generally 392 and 493) through departments
- Depending on your major, directed research might be a graduation requirement
- Independent research course (check with your department for course numbering and availability)
- Summer REU’s (Research Experience for Undergrads)
- Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships
- Other competitive research programs (such as UBRP, UROC-PREP, or SRI)
- Volunteering in faculty research labs and projects
Once you have figured out what areas of research you would like to engage in, and what type of experience is best suited for you, the next step is to find faculty and researchers connected to your areas of interest. There are a few different ways to do this.
- Visit the Undergraduate Research Database, and you can find research by college, department, type of opportunity (paid, volunteer, intern, etc.) or by listing key words.
- Search faculty profiles, using key words, topics, areas of interest, etc.
- Find off-campus REU’s through the National Science Foundation website.
- Learn more about/apply to University of Arizona undergraduate research programs.
- Explore departmental research websites for information on departmental areas/ researchers.
After finding faculty members you would be interested in working with, create a list of 7-10 (if possible) faculty members to contact.
After compiling your list of faculty members, start to email them a few at a time. Start with your top three, wait a week, and if you haven’t heard back, email your next three. We suggest using the email as a way to connect with the faculty member and to begin the cultivation of the relationship. You can choose to state your intention, i.e. getting involved in their lab, having them serve as your faculty mentor for independent research, etc. We would recommend that you ask to schedule a meeting with them and then ask in person.
When emailing faculty:
- Introduce yourself, your year, your major, and your interests.
- Demonstrate knowledge of the faculty member’s research.
- Identify why you are interested in their research, how your interests align with their research, and mention any classes or contacts you’ve had that show your interest.
- Ask to schedule a meeting. Provide your availability and ask what would be best for them.
- Be professional.
Meeting with faculty:
- Dress business casual.
- Have a conversation with them before asking to conduct research with them.
- Bring a list of questions about the faculty member’s research with you.
- Bring a copy of your resume and schedule.
- Send a follow-up email/thank you after the meeting.
Looking to fund your research? Here are some options:
The College of Science has four scholarships available to apply to for students interested in undergraduate research.
- For all College of Science majors: the Van de Verde Undergraduate Research Scholarship in Science
- For Physics Majors: the Weaver Award for Undergraduate Research in Physics
- For Chemistry and Biochemistry Majors: the Michael A. Wells Undergraduate Research Endowment in Biological Sciences
- For Geoscience Majors: the George H. Davis Undergraduate Research Fund (contact Geosciences undergraduate advisor for info).
You may also consider paid research programs through the university such as the Undergraduate Biology Research program (UBRP)