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Office of Undergraduate Research

About Undergraduate Research

A quality undergraduate research experience is unparalleled in its effectiveness in bringing about an intellectual maturity in students and providing them with experience useful for academic and career path decisions. Undergraduate research develops problem-solving skills and promotes the integration of what students learn in the rather compartmentalized classroom experience. As a nurturing, tier-1 research institution with a world-class medical center and a strong research program, the University of Rochester is an ideal place for undergraduate research.

Research is the exploration of the unknown. It is a path to teaching and learning at a much deeper level than is done in the classroom. Researchers don’t regurgitate what they see in a textbook or a lecture. Rather they face the problem posed to them and think their way through it, rolling with the unexpected discoveries and designing ways to further explore the problem.

University of Rochester is a research university. Research happens in all intellectual disciplines of the University. Research at the University can be aesthetic, socio-political, scientific, technical, philosophical, mathematical, etc.

Research done at this University takes place in Rochester and in Japan, Italy, Malawi, and many other locations around the state, the country, and the world. University of Rochester faculty and students study the funerary architecture of the gravestones in Mount Hope cemetery, cancerous tumors in a lab at the University of Rochester medical center, the details of a neutrino beam near Tokyo, the haunts of Dante in Italy, public health in Denmark, and more.

Is undergraduate research something I should do?

Only you can answer this question. It’s not for everyone. Among the reasons to consider getting involved in research as an undergraduate are to:

  • explore a passion
  • help define your goals, interests, and potential career direction
  • gain depth in a discipline and related areas of study
  • contribute to what is known about a topic that interests you
  • develop problem solving skills
  • make professional connections
  • gain professional experience and set yourself apart a bit from the crowd
  • top off your undergraduate career with a capstone project

When and how do I get started?

These are the most common questions we encounter and, unfortunately, the hardest to answer. There is no simple answer because it depends on you, your interests, your other activities, and the culture and opportunities in your area(s) of interest.

First and foremost, do well in your classes and work to define your interests. Each field of study has its own methodology and culture surrounding research. In some cases, it might be practical and desirable to get involved early in your undergraduate career. In other cases, it is best to wait until your junior and senior years. Talk to professors in areas that potentially interest you. Explore departmental web sites. Network at departmental events. Join the appropriate undergraduate academic councils and clubs. Finally, explore this web site, as we have put advice and links throughout the site that we believe will be helpful for you in determining when and how to get started in undergraduate research.

Examples of Recent Undergraduate Research Projects

Meaghan DeWaters, Modern Languages and Cultures, 2012/T5
The Pathological Believer: Atheism, Revelation, and Disease in Dostoevsky's The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov

Dev Ashish, Physics & Astronomy, 2010
EX Lupi: Mineralogy, Stellar & Disk Structure Through the 2008 Outburst

Suzanne Whelpley, Psychology, 2011
The Association Between Alcohol Consumption and Depression in an Elderly Population

Huan “Colin” Jiang, Economics, 2012
Effective Financial Management at the City of Rochester Government

Sneha Rath, Molecular Genetics, 2012
CG3313, a Novel Gene, Regulates Growth and Apoptosis Through the Insulin Signaling Pathway

Andrew Pope, African-American Studies & History, 2011
The Confederate Attorneys General: A Phantom Supreme Court in the South Taking on Slavery and the Draft

Muran Zhu, Political Science, 2013
Democracy in Europe Research

Travis Block, Biomedical Engineering, 2012
Medical Placement Program