What is Undergraduate research: Definition and 100 Discussions

Undergraduate research is the exploration of a specific topic within a field by an undergraduate student that makes an original contribution to the discipline. It is a fairly recent concept in the academic community, with roots in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The creation of MIT’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) in 1969 encouraged an explosion in popularity. Undergraduate research programs were fairly common by the 1990s. Students may work on their own, collaborate with faculty members, or seek enrollment in a research program within their field. Both faculty members and students experience advantages and disadvantages when collaborating on research. Undergraduate research can be conducted in the sciences (both biological and physical) and in the humanities. The research approach differs depending on the field and the focus. Undergraduate research is often required for acceptance into graduate and professional schools.

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  1. westisabsurd

    Admissions Do I have a good shot at CalTech/MIT's graduate program for physics?

    Hey y'all, Physics major from a UC here. I wanted to see if I could get some brutally honest insight on my chances of admission to the Physics graduate program to schools like Caltech/MIT/Stanford/UChicago to anyone who may be able to provide it. [Current Stats] I'm a second year Physics...
  2. Maddy467

    Schools Which University should I go to for my undergrad in physics?

    I'm an international student. I've been accepted into Stony Brook (NY), Rutgers-New Brunswick (NJ), University of Arizona and Iowa State University. (all with decent scholarships... amounts in increasing order with Stony Brook costing me the most) I'm really confused about the first 3. All of...
  3. L

    Admissions DOE SULI Advice For Biology Background - Renewable Energy Development

    Hi Everyone! I am an upperclassmen undergrad of a biol background, with mainly course training in biochemistry and molecular biol, and taken chem like o-chem and a-chem, and introductory physics. I have three short term summer projects at top 5 institutions in the past and in the field of...
  4. decisivedove

    Admissions Should I apply to Physics PhD programs?

    Hi, I am a senior at a large research public university in the US (UC Davis). I really want to go to grad school but I am not sure if I should apply this year. I am only 19 years old (I graduated high school with an associates in physics) so this is only my second real year of college and I...
  5. C

    Is Spending an Extra Semester in Undergraduate Research Worth It?

    I am at a bit of a fork in the road. I know after I am done with my undergraduate degree, at least at some point, I would like to either go to graduate school or be an independent researcher -- either way, I really want to do research. The way I see it, conducting research could help me on...
  6. Mr.Husky

    Other Looking for advice about my career....

    Hi everyone, I am now a junior high school student who is going to start his senior after a month. I was selected to a tier 1 University in my country. I checked all professors and postdocs websites and I can say that they are mostly doing research on condensed matter physics. Should I learn...
  7. B

    Other Working in a biology lab for a physics/biophysics major

    I was wondering if it is of any value for someone interested in physics/Biophysics grad school and a Biophysics career to be working in a biology lab? I'm an undergraduate physics major concentrating in biophysics in the US and I have an offer to work in a cancer biology lab. It's very much...
  8. AryaKimiaghalam

    Admissions Research Experience for Graduate School

    Hi, I am a physics major in my second year . So far, i did not do any research and with the current Coronavirus situation, getting into a research program in my university is unlikely (since most of them are experimental). I had some questions about the research experience of graduate school...
  9. D

    Thoughts on Undergraduate Engineering Research

    The topic of "undergraduate research" is much discussed today. Speaking particularly to engineering education, I wonder if we all have the same understanding of the term "research." I would like to hear from other folks just what they think is meant by the term "undergraduate engineering...
  10. J

    Other Inquiring about Undergraduate Research

    When composing an email to a professor asking him about possibly conducting undergraduate research with him, what are some things I should keep in mind? What are some things I should (or shouldn’t) be asking of him and some things I should (or shouldn’t) be saying about myself?
  11. F

    Programs Is Environmental Engineering capitalized?

    Hi! I'm currently a freshman applying to an REU for the summer. It would be great help if anyone could take a look at it and critique what needs to be changed. As a side note, I know this is a super long personal statement because the program I'm applying for says the word count needs to be...
  12. astroman707

    Schools Do graduate schools look favorably upon published research?

    Do graduate schools in physics look more favorably upon undergraduate students with published research, rather than just research experience? How would an admissions committee weigh two students if one had done published research, but not in the field of physics of which he was applying for, and...
  13. Y

    Courses Should I take advanced courses as a physics undergraduate?

    I am a third year undergraduate physics student with some interest in theoretical physics. This term I want to learn General Relativity or Group Theory, but they are all hard, time-consuming courses. If I don't take them, I can explore broader areas of physics to make a decision on what I will...
  14. K

    Other Undergraduate research or thesis topics in electrical power

    Hi I am an electrical engineering student, would like to do research and or a thesis in electrical power engineering. However, because our university does not offer any courses on this topic, I am left alone to peruse the books and literature and find some topic of interest. do not know if this...
  15. VuIcan

    A quick question regarding undergraduate research

    Hi there, so my friend and I recently asked our professor to allow us to do research with her, whatever that entails. She requested that we submit a CV and a short e-mail to her. This is my first time doing this sort of thing so I'm completely clueless in regards to what a professor might find...
  16. M

    Studying How to be the best physicist you can be

    Hi All! A question that has been on my mind lately is how can a person be the best physicist that they can possibly be. Obviously 'best' is open to interpretation, so let's just say "How can a person make the largest impact on some field in physics that they are capable of". If we had to pick...
  17. Eslam100

    What are the topics in theoretical and mathematical physics?

    I'm a rising physics sophomore at a Japanese university. I've studied general physics, linear algebra, and analysis (actually, calculus of single and several variables with emphasis on analysis, everything was proven and the theoretical background was well explained) Other than that, I've...
  18. Shing Ernst

    Admissions Undergraduate research experience with no results

    Should I include my no-result "research experience" into my personal statement for graduate physics school? My undergrad research experience is basely: 1.) My professor suggested a field - dark matter - to me. (Back then, he was working on mostly Earth science observations, so I did...
  19. F

    Other Guidance for Undergraduate Research

    Hi everyone, I'm going to be a second year Applied Physics and Math student in the fall. I spent my freshman year working with a professor researching applications of titanium nanotubes. It was a great experience but I am looking for new opportunities to continue exploring the many...
  20. Dr. Courtney

    Insights Niches for Publishable Undergraduate Research - Comments

    Dr. Courtney submitted a new PF Insights post Niches for Publishable Undergraduate Research Continue reading the Original PF Insights Post.
  21. B

    Schools Having Trouble Finding a Math Undergraduate Research Project

    I am an undergraduate pursuing mathematics and computer science in the research university at U.S. Inspired from the applications of algebra to math and statistics, I have been trying to find a suitable project in the mathematics with supervision from a faculty member, or a reading course in...
  22. G

    Other Undergraduate Research Paper: Physics & Differences

    What is an Undergraduate research paper? What would be an undergraduate research paper in Physics be like? How is this paper different from Masters research paper?
  23. Alyssa P

    Schools Research positions outside home university

    I'm a freshman physics major at a small research university in Philadelphia. The majority of the university is geared toward the health sciences, so we have very limited opportunities for research in physics. I'm just starting to develop my interests in specific fields in physics, and I'd...
  24. Akshat

    Programs Should I do research my freshman year?

    I'm an incoming freshman to the University of California San Diego as a Materials Science and Nanoengineering major, and I'm interested in doing research. I've been a research assistant for over 5 years at the University of Nebraska Lincoln (2 in biochemistry, 3 in physical chemistry, and 1 in...
  25. Bristlethorn

    Interesting topics for undergraduate astrophysics research?

    Starting in the fall of this year, I'm going to get to start my own year-long undergraduate research project. To summarize as briefly as possible: Resources Available: Our university has access to the SMARTS consortium's three telescopes: - 1.5m CHIRON telescope - 1.3m ANDICAM telescope...
  26. P

    Admissions Should I read (if yes, how) arxiv as a freshman?

    I just graduated high school and will be starting my university studies in Physics. Now, I came across the site a while back and was just thinking of reading at least 1 paper everyday. By doing this, I feel like I'll be updated on what's happening in Physics currently (which field and which...
  27. P

    Studying Should I work at a machine lab as a Physics student?

    I have a machine lab at my university and I have heard that if you want to be an experimental Physicist, then it's a good idea to get some experience in the Machine Shop for it would help not only your skills, but also your CV when you apply for grad school. Is it so? Thanks!
  28. I

    Physics Interested in undergraduate research at other university

    Hello, I'm currently a second year undergrad (third once summer ends) majoring in applied physics. Currently I'm doing research at my university about muon beam cooling. However, even though this topic is interesting, I'm mainly interested in the cooling and trapping of anti-particles which is...
  29. B

    Other Problem about Contacting the Professor

    Dear Physics Forum personnel, Since this January, I have a problem contacting the professor who is doing exciting research that is also my interest; I would like to pursue an undergraduate research under him, and I had sent him an email on late January. He replied back, saying that the...
  30. L

    Other Undergraduate research on gravitational waves

    Currently I'm in the last year of the Physics course and I'm interested in working on some undergraduate research project. At first I was suggested to work with statistical physics, but I believe I would prefer working with General Relativity. From the point of view of background I do have a...
  31. P

    Schools Should I take a gap year to get into UT Dallas?

    I've been admitted to UT Arlington with 100% tuition scholarship. However, even after the scholarship, the living expenses are quite a bit for me (however, with on campus jobs and all, I believe my family will be able to manage so I think that I'll leave the financial issues aside). I'm not...
  32. Haindi

    Physics Does the topic of undergraduate research matter?

    I have worked with a professor within my Physics department for almost a full school year now on electron scattering simulations. I run some programs on my computer and analyze them with ROOT. This work has been rewarding as I have learned a lot, but I recently got offered a position in a...
  33. B

    Undergraduate Research Topics?

    I am currently a sophomore physics student at a relatively small liberal arts college. Research opportunities are extremely limited, but I am applying for a grant of up to $2500 to perform a research project for the school. I am having some trouble coming up with topics/projects that I could...
  34. M

    Undergraduate Senior Physics Research Topic (Theory)

    Hello all, This is most likely a question for those who have experience/knowledge of theoretical/mathematical physics at the graduate level and can provide recommendations following my criteria. Here is some background about me: I am a senior majoring in math and physics at a small...
  35. J

    I need some ideas in my Physics undergraduate research

    I am undergraduate physics student,and I want to become a theoretical physicist. I need some ideas about fields to look at it that can inspire me . I do not have specific field that I like the most in physics..so I need your help
  36. ElPimiento

    Studying Courses/Books Recommended for Metamaterial Research?

    I'm a first year student in college and I've started shadowing under a grad student, who's in a nano-optics research group (http://www.nanoscience.ucf.edu/chanda/), in order to learn about microfabrication. I'd like to start conducting my own research soon; however, i don't know exactly what it...
  37. Summer95

    What do REU programs want to hear in personal statements?

    I really want to start doing some undergraduate research (Physics major, Math minor, 2nd year of Physics classes starting now) and I have no idea what they want to hear from me in any personal statements. For example, one of them just asks "How do you think this research experience might further...
  38. Kimpoy

    Interesting undergraduate thesis topic for Physics education

    Hello everyone, I am a Physics education major in the Philippines.I am now on the stage of doing an undergraduate thesis as a requirement for my degree. I would like to ask for suggestion out there, for an interesting topic to be considered. I would really appreciate topics that gives a little...
  39. B

    Seeking your suggestions on my current course workload

    Dear Physics Forum advisers, I am a college sophomore in US with a major in mathematics and an aspiring mathematician in the fields of computation theory and cryptography. I recently revised my course workload with my adviser, and he suggested some variations in the workload for me to choose...
  40. B

    Undergraduate Research and Mathematics Graduate Programs

    Dear Physics Forum advisers, I am a rising college junior (five-years tract) with a major in mathematics and an aspiring mathematician in the fields of theoretical computing and cryptography. I apologize for this sudden interruption but I wrote this email to seek your advice on the impact of...
  41. Cake

    Is my impression of undergraduate research sound?

    So I'm sitting on a happy GPA and an acceptance letter to transfer to a nice school for the rest of my undergrad, my dreams of a PhD looking bright, and this terror just grips me like a swimsuit out of water. I've never actually talked to a professor about how research works. I've read a lot...
  42. Finesagan

    Would you say my course-load is overwhelming?

    Hello I am going to be a Sophomore in the upcoming fall semester. For the past couple of days I have been trying to decide if I should take another math class next semester. I am passionate about both math and physics so the lack of humanities does not bother me and honestly I am happier in the...
  43. B

    Fall Undergraduate Internship: School vs Research Experience

    Fall internships for undergraduates? I have myself in quite the pickle. I'm entering my senior year of college pursuing a BS in Physics and a minor in Math. I go to a small university near LA. I was just offered a paid internship across the country by NASA for this upcoming fall. Of course I...
  44. D

    Unsure what undergraduate research to pursue

    I'm a sophomore electrical engineering student. I've decided to apply to the honors college at my school. Part of the program includes writing a senior thesis and doing undergraduate research. One of the essay questions on the application asks me to describe a topic that I might be interested in...
  45. P

    Undergraduate research for prospective graduate students

    I'm beginning to look at grad schools for theoretical physics and was wondering how important research is in this field. As an undergrad there really isn't any theoretical physics research I could pursue and I was wondering if I should be looking for any research opportunities in other branches...
  46. B

    Choosing Undergraduate Research Lab

    Dear all, I am a sophomore at one of respected public hresearch university; my major is a microbiology (and I am also considering double major in the chemistry). My future goal is to go to the graduate programs in medical microbiology/virology or chemical biology with focus on the virology; my...
  47. F

    Currently doing undergraduate research, but on career path

    Hey all! I am currently doing a computer science project for a scientific collaboration at an REU this summer. I am a physics student and I plan to be a researcher one day. I really do not want to continue this project for two main reasons: I simply do not know the computer science...
  48. M

    Admissions Will a poor undergraduate research topic affect graduate admission?

    I have a graduate admissions question for anyone who might have been part of a graduate admissions committee. How do you view undergraduate research projects that are not cutting edge or particularly interesting? My project is on the effect of ball milling on production of a bulk high-Tc...
  49. D

    Putting undergraduate research in CV?

    I've been looking at tips and articles about how to create a successful CV for applying to graduate school in the US, but I'm getting confusing results about certain things. I plan on applying to Bioengineering/Materials Science and Engineering programs. My undergraduate degree is in Physics at...
  50. C

    Undergraduate Research: To diversify or specialize?

    Hi friends, I realize that my question is probably not particularly clear cut, but I would like to hear some opinions on it. I am wondering, is it better as an undergraduate to diversify your research experiences, or to specialize? Would it be better to try out a number of different fields...