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Research

Research FAQ

(4.1) Is it possible to do research as an undergraduate student?
(4.2) What's the best way for me to get involved in university research?
(4.3) How much time should you expect to spend in research?
(4.4) How can I find out exactly what research projects are available?
(4.5) How much should I know about a lab's research before asking to get involved?
(4.6) Can I get credit for doing research?
(4.7) Can a BENG 199, Independent Study Research course be taken in the summer?
(4.8) What's the difference between volunteering and working?
(4.9) What can I expect as a volunteer researcher?
(4.10) Do I have to volunteer at a bioengineering lab?


(4.1) Q: Is it possible to do research as an undergraduate student?

A: Yes. Please refer to Undergraduate Research Information Application on the Undergraduate Program page of the departmental website. (Margene Wight, 2007.06.11)

(4.2) Q: What's the best way for me to get involved in university research?

A:Though the standard way is to fill out the forms found on the bioengineering department web site, most people get involved through research simply by talking to the professors. If you're taking upper division classes you can get to know your professors through office hours and ask if they, or someone they know, have any open volunteer spots.

You can also browse the department website, and look through faculty profiles and lab websites. If a lab seems interesting, e-mail the professor and ask if he or she has some time to chat. This e-mail does not have to be formal or long, just a 1-2 sentence summary of yourself and a request to meet. Most will be more than willing to talk to interested students! From there, if you're still interested in their work, you can ask about volunteering opportunities. Volunteering can be done for credit/technical elective (BENG199) or just on your own time.

The most important thing: the hardest part about getting a volunteer position is the first contact! The biggest mistake that people do is putting off emails over and over again. This is the easiest step, but quite often it is the one that no one takes. (Margene Wight, 2007.06.11)

(4.3) Q. How much time should you expect to spend in research?

A. The amount of time varies with the research project. In general, the more time put into a research project, the more that an individual will get out of the experience. Typically, during the academic year, 10 hrs/wk is common. During the summer, 30+ hrs/wk is common. (Margene Wight, 2007.06.11)

(4.4) Q. How can I find out exactly what research projects are available?

A. The research projects that are available at any particular time are difficult to tabulate, since research directions can evolve rapidly. Typically, faculty have a number of projects in mind that they would like to undertake. So, if there is a general match between student and faculty interests, and adequate space and supervision available in the faculty lab, a good match can be found. (Margene Wight, 2007.06.11)

(4.5) Q. How much should I know about a lab's research before asking to get involved?

A. Faculty members have diverse expectations about this. Most faculty members are happy to take students into their research group, and provide a great deal of direction. Many are most impressed when students have done extensive reading of recent research papers. (Margene Wight, 2007.06.11)

(4.6) Q. Can I get credit for doing research?

A. There are certain requirements for obtaining BENG 199 credit for doing research. These requirements vary slightly between the different majors. Please consult the General Catalog for more information, and this web site for the appropriate forms to apply to receive credit. (Margene Wight, 2007.06.11)

(4.7) Q: Can a BENG 199, Independent Study Research course be taken in the summer?

A: Yes. Please note however that a four unit BENG 199 course requires 100 hours of work, regardless of the quarter in which it is completed. Please contact the Bioengineering Student Affairs office for further information. (Margene Wight, 2007.06.11)

(4.8) Q: What is the difference between volunteering and working?

A: Usually if you apply to a lab for work/workstudy, you are expected to do more technician/lab manager duties such as cleaning dishes, preparing solutions, or managing orders. On the upside, you get paid, and if you stick around you may get to work on a project. If you're a volunteer, you don't get paid, but many scholarship opportunities are available especially during the summer. On the upside, you get to do research right away, and if you stay long enough you may get a publication out of it. (Margene Wight, 2007.06.11)

(4.9) Q: What can I expect as a volunteer researcher?

A: Keep in mind that most professors prefer at least a 2 quarter commitment (which shouldn't be a big deal because 2 quarters of BENG199 are required if you want to use that as a technical elective). Responsibilities vary between labs, but typically you start off assisting a post-doc or graduate student, and after a while you may move on to an independent project. If you're hardworking and lucky, you may even get to present your work at a conference or publish a paper. (Margene Wight, 2007.06.11)

(4.10) Q: Do I have to volunteer at a bioengineering lab?

A: No, because bioengineering is interdisciplinary, many students choose to volunteer at engineering, chemistry, biology, medical, or computer science labs as well! The procedure is the same: just look through faculty or lab web sites, find what you like, and send a short e-mail to the professor asking to meet. In fact, if you want to start off research as a first or second year, it may even be better to start in a biology or chemistry lab because you may not have enough foundation to get the most out of a bioengineering lab. (Margene Wight, 2007.06.11)

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