Undergraduate Research

By: Patrick Carney
Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of the university’s greatest assets.  There are research programs for almost any subject you can imagine, with over 100 research centers and programs to choose from.  For CALS specifically, there are programs in agriculture, dairy, environmental studies, health sciences, and more!  The best part about research on campus is that undergraduates play a major role in it.  Many students get involved in labs, and there are even courses designed specifically for getting students research experience.

So what is my advice to you?  Get involved as early as possible in research if you are interested.  Finding a research position is not all that easy, but once you do it can be very rewarding.  The first step is to go to the UW-Madison website and find the “Research” tab.  Once there, you can see all the various projects going on and find out who is heading up research in each area.

Now comes the tricky part.  Contacting the faculty members conducting the research.  They are all very busy people who may not want or need extra people in their lab, so you need to email multiple investigators until you get one that is interested. An alternative is to find a lab by looking at the UW job-listing page, but remember you will probably start doing basic work around the lab and will need to work up to conducting actual research.

Once involved in research, it can be a very valuable experience for you, particularly if you are looking into graduate school of any sort.  Research is the hands on application of what you learn in class, and many programs require that you have some experience in research as an undergraduate.

To conclude, research has been one of my favorite parts about being in school here.  I was lucky enough to have a mentor take an interest in me and help me to design and do various research projects.  I know there are many great faculty members at this university, and hopefully you can find one that will do the same for you.