The Office of Undergraduate Research encourages students to make research a fundamental part of their academic experience at the University of Virginia. We use the term “undergraduate research” to encompass research, scholarship, and creative endeavors, recognizing that examples may range from literary scholarship and chemistry experimentation to architectural design and fiction writing.
Students in any field can benefit from learning how to design a research question or a scholarly or creative inquiry, and from developing the skills necessary to seek answers. The experience of seeing a significant research project through to completion and presenting your conclusions can be one of the most intellectually rewarding experiences of your undergraduate years. Moreover, undergraduates who have conducted independent research projects are well prepared for graduate study and other endeavors, and they can be strong candidates for prestigious scholarships and fellowships, such as the Fulbright, Churchill, Goldwater, and Rhodes.
There are many opportunities for students to participate in research at UVA, whether by contributing to ongoing research efforts or carrying out independent work. The Undergraduate Research Network offers workshops on getting involved in research, holds drop-in peer advising hours in Clemons Library, organizes research symposiums, and publishes the Oculus, The Virginia Journal of Undergraduate Research.
The Value of Undergraduate Research
Academic benefits: Improves learning, retention, curiosity, relationships with faculty, and motivation
Professional benefits: Gain experience, communication skills, career options, resume boost, career preparation
Personal benefits: Develops critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, sense of accomplishment and independence
- Find a research mentor
- Determine your interests and then search for professors working on those topics.
- You can search for professors you might want to work with and see if their research areas are interesting to you
- Or try some combination of these two!
- You can use UNLEASH as a tool to help you search.
- Approach a potential mentor
- Schedule a meeting (talk after class, e-mail, etc.)
- Confirm via e-mail, include your curriculum vitae (CV)
- Review their interests, website, curriculum vitae (CV)
- In the meeting, bring up:
- How you became interested in their research
- Your own academic interests (close to their work)
- Your background, skills, etc. (briefly)
- Your interest/experience in undergraduate research
- Ask if the professor knows of research opportunities in the department
- Be professional – prepare, make eye contact, thank them
- Next steps and additional resources
- Create a CV (career.virginia.edu/resumes → Curriculum Vitae)
- Attend seminars and talks at UVA
- Look at your department’s website and faculty directory for information on research areas, interests, and opportunities
- Visit the Undergraduate Research Network’s website for more information from students
- Apply for research positions on UNLEASH. Visit OURs list of research opportunities which include funding opportunities as well as summer research programs in the U.S. and abroad.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to advisors and professors for advice/help!
Useful Sites with Information on Undergraduate Research
UVA Biology Department
This site has information about undergraduate research in the biology department and instructions for how to register for Biology independent research.
UVA Chemistry Department
This site has information about getting involved in research in the Chemistry Department as well as more broadly applicable guidance on presenting your work through posters or oral presentations.
UVA undergraduate students can conduct cutting-edge research as undergraduate research assistants. Participating in undergraduate research provides hands-on experience and helps to prepare students for research-based careers in industry or graduate school.
Undergraduate Neuroscience Research
This site lists guidelines for undergraduate neuroscience research and how to find a neuroscience lab.
UVA Psychology Department
The Psychology department has information on their website about undergraduate research opportunities in their department and how to receive credit.
Biomedical Engineering Department
Undergraduate research advice for BME's at UVA.
Council on Undergraduate Research’s Registry of Undergraduate Researchers
The purpose of this registry is to facilitate matching between undergraduates and graduate schools seeking high quality students who are well prepared for research. Currently the registry is open to students and graduate schools/employers in the fields of Anthropology/Archaeology, Arts/Humanities, Biology/Biochemistry, Business, Chemistry/Biochemistry, Economics, Education, Engineering, English and Linguistics, Environmental Studies, Geosciences, Health Professions, History, Journalism and Communications, Mathematics/Computer Science, Physics/ Astronomy, Political Science, Psychology, Social Work, and Sociology.