Explore the tips and tools related to research at UB.
The Council on Undergraduate Research defines “undergraduate research” as: “an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.”
Depending on the discipline, research can involve many different activities and take a variety of forms. While many often think of research solely as the testing of scientific hypotheses, it can also include interpretive, descriptive, and artistic endeavors. Common research activities include:
Research will help you to go beyond your classroom learning and gain a deeper understanding of your field by giving you hands-on experience and exposing you to current practices and trends within your field. It will allow you to explore potential career paths and develop close relationships with faculty who can serve as references. Participating in out-of-class research will also allow you to grow both personally and professionally by helping you develop skills such as:
You will learn to be an active participant in your education, creating new knowledge and making connections between different disciplines. You will be able to grow your abilities as a scholar and a researcher by using the methods you have learned in the classroom and applying them to real-life situations.
There is no one right time to get involved in research as an undergraduate. The right time is the one that works for you in terms of your course load, availability, and interests.
There are benefits, however, to starting research early on in your academic career, even as a freshman or sophomore. Starting early allows you to build the skills necessary to take on more advanced positions and to see a project through from beginning to end. It also allows you the time to explore different fields and approaches to find out what interests you most.
Participating in research as an undergraduate looks great on your resume and will help you set yourself apart from other applicants whether you will be applying to graduate or professional school or going directly into the job market.
Finally, the dedication and skills shown by successfully completing undergraduate research experiences can also help you be competitive for national and international scholarship and fellowship opportunities offered through UB. These prestigious scholarships and fellowships can fund research, undergraduate and graduate level education, and study abroad experiences. For more information on these opportunities and guidance on developing a competitive portfolio visit the Fellowships and Scholarships website.
ELN recommends students send a thoughtful and well-written email, along with your resume, to faculty you are interested in working with. Your email and should be written clearly and concisely, and include the following information:
As an attachment to your email, include your resume if you think it is appropriate for the level of responsibility required by the project. If you do attach a resume, be sure to include:
A poorly written resume may be a barrier to securing a project opportunity, so do not include it in your email if it has not been reviewed by staff in Career Services, located in 259 Capen Hall.
If you don’t hear back from the project mentor, send a polite follow-up email 1-2 weeks after your initial email.
Presenting your research gives you an important opportunity to share your findings with other undergraduates and faculty members. Conference presentations are an important part of professional development, and they offer the chance to receive valuable feedback on your work. They provide you with public speaking experience and help you deepen your own understanding of your research as you explain your project and respond to questions. Conferences are also wonderful places to network with your peers and professionals in your field. Finally, you will gain valuable experience to highlight on a resume or graduate school application.
UB's Annual Celebration of Student Academic Excellence
Every spring, UB hosts an undergraduate research poster fair in the Center for the Arts Atrium. This event showcases over 100 undergraduate research projects from all academic disciplines at UB. Awards are given to the best undergraduate projects from each decanal area (College of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, etc.).
National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR)
NCUR is a national conference, hosted annually each spring, that is dedicated to showcasing undergraduate research from all academic fields. Visit their site to learn more and find information on how to submit your research for presentation at this year’s conference. ELN will help to fund any UB students who are accepted to present their research at NCUR. To learn more, review our funding guidelines and request forms.
CUR - Posters on the Hill
Each year, the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) hosts an undergraduate research poster session on Capitol Hill. The event is intended to showcase the work of undergraduate students and help members of Congress understand the importance of undergraduate research by talking directly with the students whom these programs impact. Visit the site for information on this year’s event. ELN will help to fund any UB students who are accepted to present their research at Posters on the Hill. To learn more, review our funding guidelines and request forms.
PURM: Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring
PURM is a multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed, online journal, unique in that it focuses on scholarship about undergraduate research and the mentoring of such research. Submissions from undergraduate students are welcome for their “Student Perspectives” section. If you are interested in writing a piece about your undergraduate research experience, speak with your faculty mentor about this opportunity.
Many resources exist that assist you in creating a research poster. Your faculty mentor, graduate students, and others in your department are all experienced in designing and presenting posters and can provide you with guidelines specific to your discipline. In addition, please feel free to browse the following resources: