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Undergraduate Programs

Strategies to Obtain Undergraduate Research Experience

There is not one right way to go about finding an undergraduate research position. Often, students find research opportunities by talking to professors in their courses, or by looking at faculty web pages and reaching out directly to those individuals whose research interests overlap with the student’s interests.  Students can email faculty to express their interest, or use one of a number of formalized mechanisms to apply for a research position. 

The Office of Science Engagement also offers tips on how to get started and how to reach out to faculty



Research in the BMB Department

Each semester, the BMB department distributes information via email to our pre-majors and majors about the BMB 496 (Independent Research) application process.  In addition, students can check out our BMB 488 (Communities of Practice). There is also a Pathways to Research program for students entering their junior year, and a First-Year Research Initiative for incoming students.  



Research in other departments at Penn State

Students in the BMB Department are also encouraged to check our research opportunities in other departments. 

The Office of Undergraduate Education maintains a searchable database of faculty that may have undergraduate research opportunities. 

Students should be aware that a limited number of BMB 496 (Independent Research) credits can count towards the BMB, MICRB, or BIOTC degree requirements.  If, however, a student earns 400-level research credits in another department, and that research uses biochemical, microbiological, or molecular biology approaches to answer of questions of biological significance, then students must petition to count those credits towards their degree requirements.  If approved, the non-BMB research credits will count in the same category where BMB 496 or BMB 488 would normally count. Students can fill out a request to have their research experience evaluated here.



University Programs

There are University programs such as WISER, MURE, and FURP to help first year students get research experience.

  • WISER:  Women in Science and Engineering Research
    • Available to first-year women. 
  • MURE: Minority Undergraduate Research Experience
    • Available to underrepresented minority students  (African-American, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander) who are first-year, sophomores, or juniors.
  • FURP: First-year Undergraduate Research Program
    • Available to all first-year students; those with economic hardship are encouraged to apply.



Summer Research Opportunities

The relative calm of summer can provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in an undergraduate research experience.  In addition, there are numerous funding opportunities available to help support summer research experiences. Students should be aware that these funding opportunities are awarded on a competitive basis, and therefore appropriate effort and planning is needed to prepare a competitive application.  In many (but not all) cases, previous research experience is needed to make an application competitive for funding.

Grant Opportunities for Summer Research Experiences

The Rodney A. Erickson Discovery Grant Program, named in honor of Penn State's seventeenth President, supports undergraduate student engagement in original research, scholarship, and creative work under the direct supervision of a faculty member.

The BMB Department has funds available to support summer research thanks to generosity of PSU donors. Successful applicants will receive funds in the amount of $3000 to help cover living expenses while working in unpaid research experiences in a BMB 488 and 496 faculty lab.  Applications due in February and students notified by mid-April.  Check back for details on application due dates and application link.

By enabling even more students to have transformative experiences, the Student Engagement Network is helping to make Penn State a more vibrant place to live, learn, and grow. 

The ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship provides a rewarding and unique opportunity for undergraduate students to conduct research for a minimum of 10 weeks during the summer semester, and attend ASM Microbe to present their research results. Students will also participate in the Microbe Academy for Professional Development (MAPD), a 2-day workshop intended to equip students with skills needed to give a successful presentation and develop relationships with peers and mentors in the microbial sciences. 



Finding Summer Research Opportunities Outside of Penn State

There are many other summer research programs at other Universities. The Office of Science Engagement provides an excellent summary of many such programs.


 In addition, we would like to highlight the following for those interested in exploring other national and international experiences.

NSF-REU opportunities

DAAD RISE program

NIEHS Summer Internship Program

NIH Summer Internship Programs

Pathways to Science - Search for Summer Programs

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology – Search for Summer Research Programs

Association of American Medical Colleges Summer Research Programs