Hibah Hafeez (right) talks about her research project and poster display during the Undergraduate Symposium in Varsity Hall inside of Union South at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on April 12, 2019. (Photo by Bryce Richter /UW-Madison)

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate Molecular and Cell Biology students at UW-Madison have the opportunity to work with some of the world’s leading researchers. Many opportunities for laboratory research experience are available on campus for undergraduate students and at least two credits of molecular or cellular related research is required in the major. Research experience provides students the opportunity to apply what they’re learning and compliment their knowledge with practical skills. It is highly valued by employers, graduate programs, and professional schools.

Students seeking directed study or thesis credit for a research experience should contact the student services coordinator.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Getting Started with Research

BioCommons & Wiscience –Find a Mentor Video Series, How to Identify Potential Research MentorsUndergraduate Peer Research Mentors,

Wisconsin Discovery Portal -database of campus researchers and their research projects. You can search by your area of interest.

Cellular and Molecular Biology Research tab -explore researchers

WISCIENCE –Entering Research course series

Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) -opportunity for first and second year students

Tips for Contacting Potential Research Mentors

Once you have identified research mentors with which you are interested in working, it s time to contact them. Many research mentor relationships begin with an email. By sending an email, your potential research mentor has the opportunity to review your materials (i.e. resume) before responding.

When drafting your email, it is important to remember that you need to make a case for yourself. You need to show the potential research mentor that you are qualified and worth speaking with further. Check out these tips to consider when writing your email.

Keep in mind that some researchers may not be hiring, that they are often quite busy, and that one research lab may be a better fit for you than another. As such, it is to your benefit to contact multiple research mentors that you are interested in working alongside. And remember – it may take a few attempts before you make contact! So be polite and considerate of response time, but keep on trying if do not make contact right away.

Sealing the Research Deal

If asked to interview, make sure you are:

  • On time
  • Enthusiastic, motivated, and yourself!
  • Prepared to discuss your interest in the position and why you are a good fit
  • Knowledgeable of the research taking place in the lab
  • Prepared to ask questions about the position and your role in the lab
  • Geared with copies of transcripts, resumes, cover letters, etc.

Getting Started in Your Research Role

A successful research experience is grounded in mutually accepted and understood expectations. It is important that you meet with your mentor to discuss what your role will be, what you hope to gain from the experience, what your mentor expects of you, what you would like to research, etc.

Consider using a Mentor/Mentee Contract to help build your research relationship with your mentor.

Research Funding, Programs and Resources

Amgen Scholars, hands-on research in the lab alongside top faculty, seminars and networking events, and symposia with peers and leading scientists.

McNair Scholars Program, aims to increase attainment of PhD degrees by underrepresented students

National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergrads (REUs) – funded summer research opportunities across the United States

Office of the Provost – Undergraduate Research Opportunities, Hilldale Research Fellowship, Undergraduate Research Scholars, Wisconsin Idea Undergraduate Fellowships, and more

Research Centers & Programs, Search the 50+ research centers and programs associated with UW-Madison

Summer Research Opportunity Programs, summer research opportunity to work with faculty in areas like Biomedical Data, Molecular Toxicology, and Medical Scientist Training

Trewartha Undergraduate Honors Research Grant, this grant enables honors students to undertake more demanding and extensive honors senior thesis research projects

Undergraduate Research Symposium, explore student research, attending the annual event and speaking with fellow students is a great way to learn about what others have done and how they did it!

Undergraduate Academic Awards Office, support for campus-wide awards and nationally competitive scholarships for research, service, leadership and scholarship

UW-Madison Research News, knowing what is happening on campus is a great way to identify areas and research labs of interest