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Undergraduate Research FAQs

What is research?

According to the dictionary, research is the diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories, applications, etc. The Office of Undergraduate Research will tell you more.

How do I get started?

The best place to start is with the faculty in your own department. Look at their biography pages to see what they are are working on, and look for a question that excites you. Then go talk to them! Most ACES faculty are very happy to have undergraduates participating in their research programs. The Office of Undergraduate Research has steps to follow for those new to research.

What are the benefits of participating in research as an undergraduate?

The benefits are numerous: work closely with a faculty member, learn about experimental design, investigate a topic that excites you, take part in discoveries, ask new questions, experience research settings, earn a faculty reference, gain critical thinking skills, build your resume, find out if research is right for you, share your research with others.

What kinds of research are being done in ACES?

Research from the College of ACES encompasses initiatives in bioenergy, biotechnology, integrated landscapes, environmental sustainability, food and agricultural systems, global climate change, family resiliency, public policy, and more.

Can I get credit for research?

Yes, research experience can be gained by working as an undergraduate hourly, but most students earn credit hours for taking part in research through their department. See your advising coordinator for details about research credit in your program.

As a James Scholar, don't I have to do an Undergraduate Research Project?

Yes, undergraduate research is a component of the Honors Completion Plan. See the ACES Honors Handbook for more information.

Can I share my research with others?

Yes, ACES students can publish their research in the College's i-ACES journal. In addition, Illinois has an annual Undergraduate Research Week which is highlighted by a symposium where undergraduate students present their research.

Are all careers in research located at universities?

No! Academia is an option, but many companies have entire divisions of product research and development, and government also administers numerous research offices and agencies.

Is there any way to fund my own research?

ACES has an Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program, and the Illinois Office of Undergraduate Research has student funding opportunities available.

Where can I find out more?

The Office of Undergraduate Research has more information about research for undergraduates, and to find out more about research in your department, start with your Advising Coordinator.