UW students doing research and digging in the sand on a beach along the Salish Sea.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

A research opportunity for every interest

The University of Washington is a top-tier research university. Faculty in every Arts & Sciences department pursue leading-edge research – and many invite undergraduate students to join them in this important work.  Experiencing the challenges and excitement of the discovery process can be a powerful complement to classroom learning.

As an undergrad, you can review declassified CIA documents for human rights cases, help preserve endangered languages, excavate a T-rex in Montana, identify gene mutations in fruit flies, search for signs of life in the universe, and much more.

 

Getting started

A student researcher in a lab at the UW
As a pre-med student, Thomas Khuu (BA, Biochemistry, 2019) studied degenerative retinal diseases at the UW Medicine Eye Institute.

Research opportunities abound, but finding the right fit for your interests may require some effort. Here are suggestions for starting your search:

Approach a professor whose research interests you. Faculty may be looking for a research assistant or aware of other opportunities. This could be a great conversation during office hours.

Consider a research-based course. Courses with research as a central focus can introduce research methods and help you assess your interest in a more long-term research project.

Talk to a department advisor. Department advisors often have knowledge of research opportunities. If you are an honors student, also ask about opportunities to pursue independent research through your department’s honors program.

Think beyond your own discipline. Be open to research opportunities outside of your major. Many students find research opportunities in other departments, colleges, or UW-affiliated centers. 

Dedicate a summer to humanities research. In the UW’s Summer Institute in the Arts & Humanities, undergraduates engage in scholarly research with accomplished scholars and peers while earning full-time academic credit.

Explore the resources of the UW Undergraduate Research Program (URP). URP offers guidance on all aspects of undergraduate research.

If your research involves human or animal subjects, URP’s Research Ethics page includes links to information about UW policy and federal regulatory requirements.

Find research opportunities

It was wonderful to take what I learned in class and apply it in the lab. Also, I was able to observe my own growth; I went from having no clue what I was doing to designing my own experiments!

Alder Strange, BS, Biochemistry, BS, Psychology, BA, Musical Theater, 2020
portrait of Alder Strange

Ongoing Projects Seeking Undergraduates

Many ongoing projects across the College of Arts & Sciences are fueled by undergraduate participation. A few examples:

Student writing equations on a glass board.

Washington Experimental Mathematics Lab

Contribute to mathematical research while making it accessible to the public.

Sample of Homeric text in ancient Greek.

Homer Multitext Project

Join an international team producing digital editions of early Homeric texts.

Professor Angelina Godoy with students in the Center for Human Rights.

UW Center for Human Rights

Research declassified documents to confirm and address human rights abuses.

Deja Edwards surrounded by colorful toys in the Social Cognitive Development Lab.

A focus on transgender youth

As a first-year student, Deja Edwards (BA, Anthropology, 2019) joined the Department of Psychology's Social Cognitive Development Lab, assisting on research projects related to transgender youth. "I was still learning what the UW was, and [that experience] shaped everything for me," Edwards says of the research opportunity. She later developed an independent project as part of the research team. 

Read More about A focus on transgender youth

My research…experience allowed me to apply the knowledge I had gained from both of my majors, and deepen my understanding of the areas I’m interested in.

Grecia Leal Pardo, BA, Drama, Classics, 2019
portrait of Grecia Leal Pardo

Student Research Experiences

Photo of Darby Sherwood

Writing Mrs. Lenin

Darby Sherwood spent the past year developing a play, Mrs. Lenin, under the mentorship of a nationally recognized playwright.

Photo of Ryan Robinson

Down to Earth

Ryan Robinson spent two summers excavating at an archaeological site dating back 4500 years.

Photo of Anna Sulc holding a penguin.

Paris & Penguins

Anna Sulc researched French literature in Paris and studied penguins in Argentina.

Photo of Lupita Tovar

Reaching for the Stars

Lupita Tovar got hooked on astronomy research through the Pre-MAP program.

Discovery through internships

Another opportunity to apply what you’re learning is through an internship. As an intern for a nonprofit,  government agency, health care provider, or other organization, you will experience firsthand how theory translates to practice. An internship may also help clarify whether a potential career is right for you.  The UW Career & Internship Center offers a range of internship-related resources, from webinars on finding an internship to a database of opportunities. Your department may also have information about discipline-specific opportunities.

UW Career & Internship Center