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ACES Undergraduate Research

The Morrow Plots & the Institute for Genomic Biology
The Morrow Plots & the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

What is Undergraduate Research?

Undergraduate research involves exploring a specific topic and making original discoveries about it. Undergraduate research can be performed by any ACES student in any major. No research experience is necessary. Your research will be guided by a faculty mentor.

Why Participate in Research?

By engaging in undergraduate research, you will:

  • Enhance your educational experience beyond the classroom
  • Develop a relationship with a faculty mentor
  • Dig deeper into issues and methods in your field of interest
  • Acquire valuable skills for your career
  • Improve your communication and writing skills
  • Gain experience that future employers, graduate and professional schools desire

How Can I Get Started in Undergraduate Research?

The Illinois Office of Undergraduate Research is a great resource for information to being your undergraduate research journey. The College of ACES also hosts many undergraduate research workshops throughout the school year. But the best way to get started with undergraduate research is to approach a professor whose research interests you. Think about your favorite courses and what inspires you about your field. Your undergraduate advisor can also help get your connected with researchers in your field.

The College of ACES offers many programs focused on undergraduate research including:

If you have any questions about undergraduate research, please contact Mr. Rob Chappell. 


ACES Undergraduate Research Scholarships

Since 1982, the College of ACES has supported the ACES Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program to provide research opportunities for qualified students who demonstrate superior academic ability and a strong interest in research related to the agricultural, consumer, and environmental sciences.



Students are eligible for the ACES Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program if they meet the following general requirements:

  • By the time that the project will be conducted, have sophomore, junior, or senior standing.
  • Be officially enrolled with a declared academic major in the College of ACES.
  • Have a grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 or higher for their two most recent semesters.

Approved projects are funded up to $1,500, based on a project budget sheet submitted with the application. Students whose projects are approved are also awarded a $500 merit scholarship for the academic term during which the research project is conducted.



The College of ACES is able to fund up to twenty research projects per academic year.  Students must submit their application by the posted deadline and will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Submitting project proposals a few months before starting the research project is strongly encouraged. The Faculty Research Mentor for the proposed project needs to have a current faculty and/or research appointment within the College of ACES.

Applicants are strongly urged to identify and define an appropriate research project well in advance of their application date. Application forms can be found below on this website.

Application Deadline:  April 2nd, 2021


Preparing the Research Proposal

Project proposals should follow the format shown on the application form and are limited to two pages plus a budget sheet and a title page. The project budget should itemize all funds necessary to support the proposed research. Allowable expenses include laboratory supplies (e.g., chemicals, glassware, biological materials, etc.), other disposable supplies, and off-campus travel necessary to collect data. Funds will not be provided for wages or major equipment purchases. Any budget items that are not self-explanatory should be justified in footnotes.


Presentation of Research Findings

A project report (2-3 pages) summarizing research findings should be submitted by email to the Honors Dean at the conclusion of the project. Students are highly encouraged to display their findings in a poster session at the ACES Undergraduate Research Symposium (April), at the Campus Undergraduate Research Symposium (in April), or at another scholastic event or professional meeting approved in advance by the Honors Dean.

An undergraduate researcher whose paper or poster has been accepted and who plans to present research results at a professional meeting may apply for up to $800 to help defray travel expenses.  Graduating seniors are eligible for this travel scholarship up to August 1st, for May graduates and March 1st, for December graduates.

Projects that lead to publication of full-length papers in peer-reviewed journals may qualify for up to $500 toward publication expenses. To qualify, the published paper needs to list the undergraduate researcher as an author and acknowledge the support of the ACES Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program.  The College of ACES cannot fund publication expenses for students that have graduated and are no longer enrolled at the University of Illinois. 

Requests for supplemental funding (the application forms are downloadable from this page -- see below) should be directed to the Honors Dean and need to provide evidence that an appropriate research paper or poster has been scheduled for presentation and/or accepted for publication. Requests for travel funds should be submitted to the Honors Dean at least thirty (30) days prior to professional meetings.  (Graduating seniors are eligible for supplemental funding up to August 1st for May graduates and March 1st for December graduates)


Academic Credit

Undergraduate researchers may receive academic credit (typically up to 3 hours) by registering for an independent study course (usually a 200-level course [for non-James Scholars] or a 300-level course [for James Scholars or Chancellor's Scholars]). Standard registration procedures should be observed, with the final grade to be assigned by the Faculty Research Mentor when all project requirements have been met.


ACES Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program information and application:

The Campbell Scholars Program


Established in fall 2017, the Campbell Scholars Program provides undergraduate research funding to students enrolled in the College of ACES who are Jonathan Baldwin Turner (JBT) scholarship recipients. Similar to the ACES Undergraduate Scholarship funding, this award provides money for research to be completed. The College of ACES can fund $2500 for one project per academic year. Please follow the links below to access more information about this program and download the application form. The next proposal submission deadline is Monday, April 12, 2021 at 5:00 PM (CDT).


The ACES Applied Research Summer Internship Program


The ACES Office of Academic Programs is offering summer internships to qualified students. Applications are being accepted from ALL sophomores and juniors currently enrolled in the College of ACES with an overall GPA of 3.00 or above.


Please refer to Handshake at Illinois to apply. The application deadline for summer 2020 is Thursday, February 13, 2020 at 11:55 PM (CDT).

Inquiries and application materials should be directed to:
Jean Drasgow, Director of Career Services 
ACES Academic Programs
115 ACES Library

IGNITE Undergraduate Research Program

The Ignite Program pairs incoming freshman students with a faculty member in their major to assist with that professor’s research. The goal of this program is to encourage freshman to connect with others in their major and engage in research to solve real-world problems.

Ignite students are paid $10/hour for their work up to $1500 for the academic year. Additionally, Ignite faculty-mentors are provided with a $500 stipend to facilitate undergraduate research. After completing the 150 hours of Ignite, it is possible that students remain employed in their mentor’s program.

In addition to performing undergraduate research, Ignite students are also offered the opportunity to participate in a series of workshops about undergraduate research and other enrichment opportunities in the College of ACES. Ignite students present the results of their research in the spring or fall of the year by given a 2-3 minute presentation about one thing they learned during their experience.

Membership in the Ignite Program is offered to high-achieving incoming freshman. In order to enroll in the Ignite program, students must choose a major in the college of ACES, complete an application form and compete the needed paperwork to be employed by the University when they arrive on campus.



Links to Undergraduate Research Resources