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Is it possible to participate in undergrad research as a freshmen?

  1. Apr 24, 2007 #1
    currently, im a senior in hs and im going to the university of washington next year. I really want to just dive into the world of scientific research.

    Is this possible? Or does one have to be in their major first before researching?
    I have tried emailing some professors, but i have gotten zero responses.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 24, 2007 #2
    I am a 1st year doing undergrad research. In fact, I am getting paid as well. It helps if you have some experience. Maybe try to start research over the summer...
  4. Apr 24, 2007 #3
    I would say that background in the research area would be helpful. But that there are no real hardened rules about what you can and can't do.
  5. Apr 24, 2007 #4


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    That's a pretty big playing field.

    I doubt anyone would let you have a go on their particle accelerator.

    However, someone may have some number crunching you can do.
  6. Apr 24, 2007 #5
    It is very possible. My freshman year, I did metal work for the physic department. I would also record the data into a database and do basic grammar reviews on upper division/grad student's papers.
  7. Apr 24, 2007 #6
    I'd first of all make sure you understand what is meant by 'research'. I'm not sure what kind of laboratory work you've completed so far - nature or topic, but you need to be aware that research can be very slow - there is almost always hours of tedious (this is where the enthusiasm of a hopeful result comes in!) analysis and error calculations. Since there's a specific way you'd need to approach any undergraduate research I would think it very unlikely that you'd be able to take an active part in anything at this stage you'd probably consider as interesting.

    That doesn't mean its not worth a try, experience is essential - and even if you don't get to actually take part in a project there's no reason why you couldn't organize a week or so of unpaid observation - but remember time is precious in the field so I'd try not to be too disheartened at nothing comes up at this early stage - you've plenty of years left.
  8. Apr 25, 2007 #7
    I started my first semester at UCB studying CP violation. I talked with the professor and knew their research fairly well (for someone who never did anything in it). This particular research group liked to take in 1-2 undergrads during their freshmen/sophomore years because they had plenty of time to become really productive for the group. Just bringing on senior undergrads yielded no positive gain. I actually managed to get published results from my first year/summer. However, my situation is rare. For example one professor I know refuses to hire freshmen regardless of the student. Just research the group and give it a shot. The worst that could happen is you won't get a research position which is exactly what you had before you asked.
  9. Apr 26, 2007 #8
    It kind of depends on what research interest you. It has been my experance that professors want undergrads that show a consiterible interest in the subject.

    Then again, I have a friend that goes to UW that was able to get on a research group during the summer before the start of his freshmen year and has been doing research since then.
  10. Apr 27, 2007 #9
    I am just finishing my first year as a physics and math major
    I got a work study job with my physics dept, (not really undergrad research) but, I do get to meet and know all the faculty, I help them with petty stuff like fixing computers, but also with setting up labs, and doing small experiments, I also get to go to all the colloquium seminars, and I get paid. Its really a wonderful opportunity.
    Our dept has a year long research project for all freshmen to do as well, its a group project where you pick your own topic, do research in the theory, and then do experimental test to see if its correct. My group studied Amplitude modulation, specifically Modulating a Laser to transmit an Audio Signal.

    I also, through connection from a friend, Have an internship at UMSL (my hometown) this summer in their Physical Chem dept. doing research in Intracavity Laser Spectroscopy (although I am not sure what I will be doing exactly, it could very well just be crunching numbers or filing papers)

    So in short (well long rather) It is possible, but ti takes your willingness as well as just connections. Talk to all your faculty, see what they are doing, see if they need help, ask if they know anyone who could use help, just make it known that you want to do it and will put forth the effort. If you are alzy, never come to class, and slack off, they won't hire you, so show them that you want to do research and will be willing to help out
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