UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH

Highly motivated students can gain practical experience in their field of study at UW-L by pursuing an undergraduate research/creativity project in close association with a faculty member of their choice. The undergraduate research experience is much like an apprenticeship and is most suitable for students interested in gaining additional experience in their area of discipline. Many graduate school admissions committees and employers now specifically request evidence of some undergraduate research experience. Undergraduate research projects generally involve a time commitment of greater than one semester, in which students work during non-class time and between semesters.

 

Course credit may be earned for such research activity, and an undergraduate research project could serve as a basis for a departmental honors thesis. A number of UW-L faculty also may have paid summer positions available for student researchers. Because of the wide variety of possibilities for undergraduate research experiences, students should speak directly with individual faculty members to determine the types of opportunities and specific projects available. In general, the procedure for carrying out an undergraduate research project involves four steps:

  1. Selecting a topic of interest and developing an idea for a project.

  2. Speak with faculty members about your interests and select one as a mentor to advise you in your research.  Most faculty will have projects or research ideas that they would be happy to discuss with you.  Be sure to understand the expectations and commitments required of you.

  3. Plan the project, seek funding (whenever possible), and carry out the research/creative work

  4. Disseminate your results in the form of a presentation and/or written manuscript.

 

To assist students in their undergraduate scholarly activity, UW-L has initiated the Undergraduate Research Program, which makes funds available to student researchers on a competitive basis for their projects, hosts the annual Celebration of Student Research and Creativity, and publishes the UW-L Journal of Undergraduate Research. Students (with the help of their faculty mentors) may apply for research funding every academic year; awards are made in the fall and spring. Project options are numerous. Proposals can be in your major or another discipline of interest, and could be multidisciplinary. Students may work independently or collaboratively on scholarly work completed in the U.S. or at an international location.  Recipients are expected to complete their projects and present their work at the Celebration of Student Research and Creativity one year after receipt of the award. Because carrying out a research project requires a rather long-term commitment, it is advisable that interested students begin speaking and planning their work with faculty mentors as early in their academic career as possible. Additional information and undergraduate research proposal guidelines are available at www.uwlax.edu/urc.