Finding Research Opportunities

Many students gain experience in faculty research through special-study courses such as independent study, special problems or honors thesis. These courses involve independent study and research under the supervision of a faculty member and can vary in length of credit depending upon the amount of time needed for the project.

Many degree programs in COSAM require that students complete special problems as part of the curriculum. Most programs limit the number of special-problems-course hours that can be counted toward satisfaction of the major requirement. Research programs provide you with independence, peer interaction, team work, real life problem solving, use of your basic sciences knowledge and an opportunity to work one- on-one with a faculty member. Typically students start a project early in their academic careers. The experience is extremely valuable particularly if you are planning on attending graduate school.

A recent COSAM information session on undergraduate research is available here:
Download the Undergrad Research Information Session Presentation PDF

How does a student become involved in research?

  1. Decide what area is of interest to you. Some research areas are interdisciplinary and may involve two or more areas of science i.e. biophysics, biomath, biostatistics, biochemistry and bioinformatics are but a few examples.
  2. View departmental web sites to gain information regarding faculty research profiles and research areas.
  3. Select a faculty member and make an appointment to meet with them. Make an effort to talk to more than one faculty member so that you are in a better position to select a mentor that is best for you.
  4. Once you have selected a mentor and the faculty member has agreed to sponsor you in a directed-research project, you will need to confirm the amount of time you will spend on the project and your start date.
  5. Enroll for special problems, independent study or honors thesis - complete any required paperwork required by the department or the Honor’s College.

Can I obtain funds to support my research project? 

  1. A faculty member may have specific funds in a grant directed to undergraduate research.
  2. The department may provide support. Some departments have endowments or funds from program grants to support research experiences for undergraduates.
  3. Also, you can apply for a fellowship through Auburn University Office of Undergraduate Research. This program provides up to a one-year fellowship on a competitive basis. The details of the program accompany the application form. The programs provide a stipend for the student and a stipend to support the research.

Can I do my research project off-campus in the summer?

Yes, many universities and national laboratories offer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs.  These programs typically range from 8 to 10 weeks for the summer and many offer a summer stipend and paid housing while in the progam. 

A list of laboratories and agencies that host undergraduate research programs

If I do a program off-campus, can I obtain degree credit when I return to campus?

Yes, some REU programs offer course credit as part of their activities.  It is recommended that you check with your academic advisor before starting the REU program to determine if you can be granted course credit at Auburn University.

Is there an opportunity to present the results of my research?

Many departments in COSAM either independently or as part of a research colloquium offer undergraduates an opportunity to present their findings (check with your home department). In addition, the Auburn University Office of Vice President for Research coordinates the annual “This is Research:  Student Symposium” in the Spring semester.

Both the Alabama Academy of Sciences and the National Conference on Undergraduate Research have sessions dedicated to presentations made by undergraduates. In addition, many scientific societies have sections dedicated to undergraduate research. Check with