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Undergraduate volunteer program

Volunteering in a lab can be a great way to connect with faculty and get experience participating in novel research. Often, these positions can lead to opportunities for paid positions, directed research, or UROP scholarships.

Definition of a CBS Volunteer: As a research volunteer, you will be trained and learn about scientific research in a real-world setting. A volunteer must have specific educational or training goals that can be achieved through observation, instruction, and performance in a research setting. The activities of a volunteer must be distinguished from those of an employee - their goal is to be trained and learn, not to perform services for the lab. A volunteer should not be assigned duties that the department would normally pay someone to perform, or duties performed in conjunction with a paid employee currently performing those services. A volunteer is not a paid employee of the University and is not entitled to receive salary, benefits, or other compensation. The volunteer does not qualify for workers compensation benefits and is expected to carry personal medical insurance to cover medical expenses for any injuries incurred while performing volunteer services.

How to get started

Your first step is to identify a faculty member to work with. See the Research Roadmap for tips on how to identify and approach faculty. Once you’ve found a lab, work with your faculty mentor to outline your research project, as well as your educational and training goals. Be sure to discuss their expectations of you, your expectations of the experience, and logistical topics, such as how many semesters you’ll commit, or what to do if you’re ever sick and can’t make it to the lab during your scheduled time.

Forms required

When you begin work in the lab, there are several forms that must be completed and submitted to HR. These forms are described below.

Additionally, we ask that you complete a pre- and post-survey describing your research experience. Completion of these surveys allows us to continue providing exceptional research opportunities for CBS students.

Required HR Documentation

The following forms and documentation should be completed and emailed to with the subject line: “CBS Undergraduate Research Volunteer Forms”:

  • Completed Volunteer Researcher Agreement and Release
  • Copy of health insurance card
  • If you are not a citizen or permanent resident, documentation of appropriate visa status (such as a copy of your DS-2019, or similar form)
  • If you are under 18 years of age, additional documentation is required. Please contact for more information.

Additionally, you must complete a variety of lab safety and data privacy training. The following courses are required for all employees and students working in a U of M research lab: 

Some labs may require additional training, in addition to those listed above. See the University Health & Safety New to the Lab page for a full list of available online training material. Please coordinate with your PI to coordinate the completion and documentation of these lab trainings, as well as any additional trainings that are required in your lab.