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Undergraduate Research Projects

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Tips for finding an undergraduate research project

Participating in undergraduate research is one of the best ways for a student to learn about their field, gain experience,   and make contacts that will help them throughout their career. 

This site will help you to begin this somewhat daunting task of finding the project that is right for you! When in doubt, check with the academic programs office in 2124 Snee Hall (easinfo@cornell.edu).

Good luck!

Step 1:

Think about your interests in your major program. What are the kinds of things that really peak your interest? What types of activities do you want to learn more about? Do you want to work mostly in the field, in the laboratory, at a computer? What activities have you enjoyed the most in the courses you have taken? Is there a faculty member that has really sparked your interest? Would you like to receive academic credit for your work? Do you really need to receive payment for your work? Think realistically about how much time you would like to devote to a project. Attend departmental seminars and gatherings to learn more about research activities and opportunities.

Undergraduate Reasearch Project

Step 2: 

Do your homework! A good way to begin is to use the EAS People site. Scroll through the list of faculty and read up on their areas of research. Make a list of the research areas and associated faculty members that seem most interesting to you. You can do the same in other departments that might interest you. The more prepared you are, the better!

Step 3:

Start contacting faculty members to let them know that you are interested in their work and see if you can meet with them to discuss opportunities they may have. This may seem daunting, but this is where "doing your homework" will come in especially handy! Faculty members will be impressed that you know a bit about their work! Prepare some questions that you have and bring them along. Take notes. Bring along your transcript so that the faculty member can see what coursework you have completed.

Step 4:

Review your options and decide on the project that will work best for you. Discuss the project in further detail with your academic advisor and with the person that will be supervising your work. Clearly establish the project expectations. What is the final goal of the project? Some faculty members will want you to complete a written summary of your results and conclusions, others might want you to prepare educational materials for future projects, or give a talk at a seminar.

If you need research funding, look into funding sources. Oftentimes, there are research funds available through the department, your college, the university, or from outside sources! Your research supervisor may have funds available as well. When in doubt, ask! Your proactiveness will always pay off.

Step 5:

If you are completing the work for academic credit, visit the Student Services office in your department (2124 Snee Hall) to enroll in course credit. In EAS, this will most likely take the form of EAS 4910 or EAS 4920. Fill out any paperwork necessary if you are being paid for your work. This might involve bringing in official identification documents such as a Driver's License, US Passport, Social Security Card, and bank account information for direct deposit of pay checks.

Step 6:

While working on the project, keep in close communication with your research supervisor and/or your academic advisor. Don't hesitate to ask questions and use all the resources that are available. Graduate students in the department will also be very helpful to you - talk to them if you want a student's perspective. If you feel that this work is a good match for you, you might want to change your advisor assignment to the faculty member you are working with. Visit 2124 Snee Hall to make this change.

If you're being paid for your work, keep records of the hours you have worked and record them on your time card.

More Resources:

College of Arts and Sciences - Student Research

College of Arts and Sciences - Funding Opportunities

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences - Student Research

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences - Funding Opportunities

College of Engineering - Student Research

College of Engineering - Funding Opportunities

Undergraduate Research at Cornell

Cornell Undergraduate Research Board (CURB)

Cornell University Presidential Research Scholars - Awards

WebGURU - Guide to Research for Undergraduates