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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Academics & Research

Ways to get research experience as an undergrad

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

As you enter your first year of college, undergraduate research might be the last thing on your mind. However, if this is something essential to your career or interests you in any way, it’s important to know that UH has a variety of resources available at your disposal. 

Incoming freshmen should use their first year of college to get to know not only what interests them in terms of study but their professors as well. With UH being such a large campus, it might be hard to stand out from the crowd. 

Ask questions, send emails and make your presence known in class. Let professors know what topics and areas of research you’re interested in because it might vary depending on your major. 

STEM majors might be looking for positions in labs or conducting research on live subjects. Liberal arts majors might take on a more book-heavy route by spending hours in libraries or archives. 

One thing that ties them all together is that you’d be bringing something new to the table and writing up a thesis proposal. You might not solve the “issue”, but you’d be providing a new outlook or an advancement to your field. 

By finding professors specific to your field or major, you’re giving yourself the necessary tools to get started on research. Professors are the number one resource for potential research opportunities as they usually forward emails to their students on upcoming programs. 

Alongside getting to know your professors, check out the Honors College and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards

The Honors College provides a smaller classroom experience with up to 20 students per class and a closer relationship with professors and students. 

It’s also home to the undergraduate research office which has a ton of research programs for students with no experience like the Houston Early Research Experience (HERE), Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) and Provost’s Undergraduate Research Scholarship (PURS)

These programs are open to all students and do not require you to be a part of the Honors College. However, reach out to an Honors advisor or professor to be added to the email list that periodically sends new and upcoming research outside of UH.

One thing to remember throughout this process is not to undersell yourself while looking at these opportunities. The worse thing that can happen as you apply is rejection and rejection is just another synonym for redirection.

Many of these programs are meant for first-time researchers and are the groundwork for connections and network building.

Taking the leap is all it takes.

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