One of the advantages of attending the University of Michigan, one of the world’s largest research universities, is the many opportunities to participate in forefront scientific exploration. The faculty of the Physics Department has a long tradition of engaging undergraduate students in their research programs. Working with faculty, post-docs, and graduate students on real-world problems is an important supplement to classroom education. Students are strongly encouraged to get involved early in their undergraduate tenure and take full advantage of research offerings from both the Department and the University. Here are some suggested ways to participate:
1. Independent study class credit (Physics 415). These projects are arranged with a faculty mentor who you can contact directly. (Don’t be shy!) To help in finding an area of interest here is a link to “research specialties”. Other resources to learn more about faculty research includes the weekly minicolloquium and the Society for Physics Students (SPS) bi-weekly meetings. SPS meetings are good for networking within the department.
2. As a paid research assistant. Faculty often hire undergraduate students to part-time employment and even full-time for the summer. Arrange this with a faculty mentor (see link in 1 above).
3. Senior thesis (Physics 496/497) and Honors thesis (Physics 498/499) projects. These are arranged with a faculty mentor (see the link in 1 above) and can often grow organically from research performed as an assistant or from independent study. Learning to communicate your research findings is critically important to your career, scientific or otherwise.
4. Find research projects through the University’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) with participation focused on first and second year students.
5. Work as a summer REU student at another college or university that has funding from the Research Experience for Undergraduates program, see links below. This may broaden your UM research experience. If you need some help getting started in undergraduate research please talk with one of our Physics Faculty Advisors.
The National Science Foundation funds a large number of research opportunities for undergraduate students through its REU Sites program. An REU Site consists of a group of ten or so undergraduates who work in the research programs of the host institution. Each student is associated with a specific research project, where he/she works closely with the faculty and other researchers. Students are granted stipends and, in many cases, assistance with housing and travel. Undergraduate students supported with NSF funds must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions. An REU Site may be at either a US or foreign location.
The University of Michigan WISE Program is designed to increase the number of girls and women pursing degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics while fostering their future success. Women in Science and Engineering programs are open to all students, they are designed to encourage and support women and girls.
UM WISE programming includes pre-college programs (grades 6-12), programs for undergraduate and graduate women. Post doctoral students are welcome to participate in any program they find beneficial. WISE also has volunteer, leadership and employment opportunities for UM undergraduate and graduate students in the sciences and engineering.
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