Undergraduate research experience is a critical component in the application process for research careers, graduate school, and many professional health programs.
By conducting research, you’ll develop an understanding of scientific inquiry, learn basic research techniques, develop transferable skills, build a relationship with a faculty mentor, and you might even present your research via a poster or publication.
Research and Health Professions Goals
There are three main types of health science research, as described below (source: Health Careers Center).
- Basic laboratory research: focuses on increasing knowledge or understanding disease mechanisms.
- Clinical research: involves clinical trials with human participants to assess the safety of new drugs and devices.
- Translational research: involves human participants and transfers laboratory results to clinical trials or to new treatments
Topics to consider when looking for a Summer Research Program
- Location: Where might you want to go to to graduate school? Spending a summer at another institution is a great way to build connections with students and faculty and determine if the school would be a good fit for your graduate or professional school goals.
- Compensation: Will you receive a stipend or academic credit for your research? Are living or relocation expenses included?
- Professional Development: Are there opportunities to get to know faculty beyond your lab? Will you be invited to present a poster at the culmination of your research experience?
- Application Timeline: What is the program deadline? Who will I ask to write my letters of recommendation? Tip: Start planning early, as applications are due several months prior to the start of the program, and most require at least one letter of recommendation.
Where can I find Summer Research Programs?
Here are some places to begin your exploration:
- Most Research Universities have summer research programs so visit the websites of the schools you would be interested in conducting research at.
- Hospitals, such as the Mayo Clinic, host summer research programs as well.
- In addition, network with your University of Minnesota professors about your interests in a Summer Research Program.
The University of Minnesota hosts several Summer Undergraduate Research Programs, as outlined below:
- Clinical and Translational Science Institute Pathways to Research Program (PReP)
- Life Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Programs (LSSURP)
- Lillehei Heart Institute Summer Research Program
The websites below also link to several opportunities:
- AAMC Summer Undergraduate Research Programs
- Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) Summer Research Programs
"The Illinois Summer Neuroscience Institute was an excellent exposure to the intricacies of research as a graduate degree, and it was a pivotal experience for me in deciding whether to pursue an M.D. or and M.D./Ph.D."
-Carly Dahl (pictured right), CBS alumni and current medical school student