About Undergraduate Research
- Utah State University's undergraduate research program was established in 1975.
- Our undergraduate research program is the second oldest in the nation following only behind MIT.
- Undergraduate researchers are more likely to receive prestigious scholarships such as the Goldwater, Rhodes, and Udall.
- In 2020, USU was a winner of the Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments (AURA) which recognized our school as a national leader in undergraduate programs for research and creative activities.
- Research helps better prepare students to get a job or go to graduate school.
What is Undergraduate Research? Why should I get involved?
Undergraduate Research allows you to passionately explore your curiosity. While getting a degree gives you a foundation of knowledge, research allows you to explore further and ask why and how things work. Research allows you to ask questions that haven’t been answered yet and find answers for yourself. Through research you can apply your education to solve problems and explore your field in the “real world.”
Maybe you want to better understand the quality of life in nursing homes. Maybe you want explore ways that engineering testing methods can be improved. Maybe you want to know how music affects the human mind. Maybe you want to explore microbes and their influence on humans and other organisms. There are opportunities to ask questions and conduct research in all fields. There are many things that are still unknown in every field. Research allows you to explore the unknown.
Research is about being passionate and curious. It is about customizing your education to things that fascinate you! Research gives students the skills to think for themselves, critically evaluate information, and use their creativity to explore.
What do students gain from Undergraduate Research?
Research requires you to think critically about the question at hand and weigh different answers objectively.
Research builds students’ confidence helping them hold a leadership role in projects.
Teamwork helps build communication skills that are critical in working in any environment.
Research doesn’t always go as planned. There can be unexpected results. Research gives you skills to analyze problems and find solutions.
Writing skills are crucial in receiving grants, communicating research, and collaborating. Being involved in research will strengthen these skills.
Thinking creatively helps you to find new ways to explore in research. It is being faced with a problem and thinking in a unique way to solve it.
How to Get Involved
Students have the opportunity to get involved in research in a variety of ways. You may do an independent project, work in a lab, art studio, or participate in field research. Undergraduates may explore a different research projects before finding a project that they “click” with, and that’s okay! If you are passionate about your research, your project will be more likely to succeed and you will gain more from it. You can conduct research within your major or outside of your major. Interdisciplinary research is encouraged and supported. Explore different options and find something that interests you!
One great way to contact a faculty member advisor is through the classroom. Students may be inspired by a professor who they would like to work with.
Most instructors conduct research and will welcome student’s interest in getting involved. A great way to start is by asking an instructor, “Do you work with undergraduates on research?”
Talk to people within your major and ask about their experiences with different research projects, this may help give you an idea of where you would like to do research. Other undergraduates in your field may have experience with professors or projects that you are interested in, they may be able to give you their personal experience about what their role was in different projects, what they enjoyed, or things that were a struggle.
Other people who may be able to direct you based on your interests are undergraduate advisors and honors advisors. Advisors in your department may be aware of research opportunities for students, set up an appointment to talk about research in your department. Honors advisors are also great resources for looking for research projects. The Undergraduate Research Office is another great resource to get started!
The websites of colleges and some departments are also a way to find out what types of research exist in your field of interest. You may have to dig a little, as the information about research may be located in different places. Here you can learn more about the research projects that are being conducted on campus and decide which projects interest you. Look through the faculty in your department and explore their research.