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Vanessa Villarroel Diaz's picture

Research at the University

The University of Minnesota is well known as a major public research institution, partly for its opportunities and amenities for undergraduates. The U of M offers plenty of chances for undergraduate students to do research along with graduate students and their own professors.

Are you interested in doing research, but do not know where to start looking? Here are some tips to find something for you in the vast field of research:

  • Get involved in professional/academic groups on campus: There are many professors/grad students who ask faculty advisors of these clubs when they need people for their projects. You can get continuously news about volunteering or employment opportunities.

That’s how I found mine! I’m a current member of the Marine Biology Group and our faculty advisor, Sehoya, posted about graduate students needing help with their research project. As I read it, I loved it and applied. I work with two grad students in their diet study. Now, I dissect fish and analyze the content of its clutch under a microscope. In the time that I have there I have learned a lot about identification of marine microorganisms, improved my dissection skills, and data entry and management.   

Shown above are two pictures of the lab where I work, and the microscopes where I spend 5-7 hours a week.

Also, this is a great opportunity for me because it lets me develop skills and learn about things that are not related to my major or covered in my classes, but that I consider important for my career and future plans.

  • College/department website: Many departments offer a link to research on the department in their website, where you can look what’s going on and who is working on what.

For example, here is the link for my department          http://www.bbe.umn.edu/research

  • Email/ask your professors: You can always send an email to faculty to ask about their current research and see if you can get involved on it. . Also, if you want to know more about the research of your professors, you can find them in the university website and see if their interests match yours before asking, find out more about it and have questions for your professor before going to talk to them. It helps them understand your interests and interest in the project and find something that helps both of you.
  • Apply for UROP: The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program lets students research along with faculty members in their fields. Students have the option of receiving credits out of it, or being paid for their work. What you have to do is find a professor and a topic of your interest, and submit your proposal. The program is open for Fall, Spring and Summer research. Plus, in the UROP website you can find more information about additional programs, sponsors and events. Here’s the link  http://www.urop.umn.edu/
  • University employment website: You can usually find job opportunities as research assistant in http://employment.umn.edu/
  • International UROP: Yes! As UofM student you also have the opportunity to apply for research programs abroad. Here’s the link for more information http://umabroad.umn.edu/students/finances/scholarships/urop-scholarship
  • Pathways to Science (http://www.pathwaystoscience.org/):  As described in the website it is a project of the Institute for Broadening Participation that supports STEM fields. There, you can find lots of research opportunities in many universities across the country. There are a variety of opening open for short and long terms and in all STEM fields. The best thing about it is that they have many programs that fund international students, so I would recommend entering to advanced search and clicking that as an option to have a more efficient search.
  • Google: Finally, google is always a good tool to start looking for anything you want. Whether you did not find the website, a professor, or just have an idea in your mind, you can always look for research umn, or [college] umn.