Research

Reasons to Research

  • Options to do paid research

  • Options to get school credit for research

    • URES:3992 0 semester ​hour course that is not graded, allowed for students who are paid, volunteers, and don't want to accrue extra tuition costs or fees

    • URES:3993 1-4 semester hours course that is graded on a pass/fail basis

    • URES:3994 1-4 semester hours course that is graded on an A-F basis

  • Share your accomplishments by getting published or doing a presentation

  • Builds relationships with professors, mentors and faculty

  • Greater knowledge of academic interests and career paths

  • Academic self-confidence through applying science concepts from classes to real-life problems

  • Get honors in the major and/or University Honors​​​

    • Departments may or may not accept URES courses for Honors in the Major, contact your major advisor for specifics

    • Can count as Experiential Learning credit towards University Honors (any with semester hours automatically count, otherwise you must fill out the Research Experience Verification Form)​

  • Get Certificate in Clinical and Translational Sciences

How to Get Involved

Step 1: Find a Project You're Interested In

  • Talk to a professor who teaches something you're interested in

  • Talk to a TA you like

  • Search departmental research pages and read about the different projects going on across campus

  • Check Hire-A-Hawk for possible paid positions or internships

  • Check the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU) website and/or make an appointment with ICRU

Step 2: Email Mentors of Interested Projects

Keep the email short and simple and include:

  • Your year in school

  • Your major and academic interests

  • What caught your eye about their work (be specific)

  • You resume

Consider Funding and Summer Options

  • ICRU Research Fellowship Program: $2,000-$2,500 awarded to research projects in all disciplines. Open to all degree seeking UI undergraduates with a B or better cumulative GPA. Applications open in February and close in March each year

  • Dewey Struit Fund for Undergraduate Research: average $400 awards to undergraduate researchers to cover research and/or travel expenses for conferences, workshops, etc.

  • John and Elise Mae Ferentz Undergraduate Research Fund: up to 10 awards given of up to $1,000 to junior and senior students with minimum 3.33 GPA

  • Carver College of Medicine Programs

  • Other Opportunities

Do I need to do research to get into medical school?

  • Not necessarily, it can be a helpful way to show your analytical and critical thinking skills

    • Showcasing a curiosity in the scientific method and that science is in a constant change.

    • Committed to being a lifelong learner

Career Center

Advice

Personal Experiences

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I just contacted a professor whose research I found interesting. I would advise students to try to list their classwork especially lab classes in that initial email. Generally speaking most labs need people to do things but don't really want to provide too much training. If you don't have any lab experience you might end up washing dishes. Ideally you want to start your own miniproject or make major contribution. It will prepare you for your PhD and will help you get good rec letter if you are actually doing science rather than chores.

Dylan

Carver COM

M.D./Ph.D., 2023

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How did you get involved?

I knew early on in college that I wanted to get involved with scientific research. My RA was also a biochemistry major, and as our floor was a STEM floor, we went on laboratory tours during our first semester. After seeing the interesting work that was going on, I knew I wanted to start research, but only after finishing my freshman year. I wanted to stay in Biochemistry because it was my major, so I looked through faculty pages on the Department website and read through descriptions of their projects. I emailed 4 or 5 professors who’s work sounded interesting and I ended up interviewing with the professor who’s lab I joined.

What presentation/publication opportunities did you pursue?

I presented my research at multiple poster conferences at Iowa. As an ICRU fellow, I presented at both SURC (Summer Undergraduate Research Conference) and FURF (Fall Undergraduate Research Festival). ICRU was a great support system in multiple ways as an undergraduate researcher. I was able to attain funding for the summer through receiving a fellowship, and I also acted as a Student Ambassador for two years. In my Senior year, I helped to organize my senior project into figures and wrote up a few sections which I sent to my PI before graduating, which ideally will be organized into a publication in the coming months if all goes according to plan.

Why do research?

Research helped me to develop so many skills that are critical to what you do after graduating that aren’t emphasized in plain classroom experiences. I directly gained more knowledge about my field and techniques to generate data, but arguably I grew more from research through improving my softer skills. Things like speaking skills from presenting at lab meeting, talking about science to the public at poster presentations, and drafting an application for why your project should be funded at things beyond the science that are extremely important and transferrable to other disciplines. I especially loved presenting my work and working with younger students to start research because helping someone understand the importance of science or helping someone develop and explore their career is very fulfilling to me.

 

Any other advice you would give to someone wanting to get involved in research?

Explore! You may find that your first research experience is amazing, or you may feel underwhelmed and uninterested. Either way I think its good to branch out to other experiences, whether its summer research experiences at other institutions or getting involved with research advocacy. There’s so much to research that it’s important to see all the different angles to see if you enjoy something new.

Ross

UI B.A. 2020

USD SSOM

M.D. 2024

If I had to choose one person that has influenced me the most in my education, it was Dr. George Richerson.  He taught me everything I know about research and really showed me the ropes.  I credit him with getting where I am today as without him this all wouldn't have been possible.  I started in Dr. Richerson's lab the summer of my freshman year from an ad he posted on the ICRU website.  From there, I never looked back and did work with him all 4 years of my undergrad and during the first few months of medical school.  The work I did with Dr. Richerson set me up perfectly for life as an MD/PhD candidate as I learned not only how to function within a lab environment but also how to hold myself to a standard of academics.

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Hassan

Carver COM

M.D./Ph.D., 2025

I got involved in research at the beginning of my sophomore year.  As a student in the pre-med track, I was looking for a lab where I could gain more knowledge about medical conditions affecting people worldwide. After contacting ICRU and looking through the different lab openings, I decided to apply to Dr. Dale Abel's lab. Soon after joining his lab, I learned about LSAMP, a research program that provides funding and different professional opportunities. With the help of LSAMP, I got to attend multiple conferences and got the opportunity to present my project. Doing research was one of the best experiences as an undergrad. Research provided me with an opportunity to apply the knowledge that I have learned in class and become a better thinker.

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Tatiana

Human Physiology

UI 2020