Mentored Research & Independent Studies

Undergraduate Research Experience: A CALS Tradition
50% of CALS students complete mentored research experiences. The experience of working in a research group is an important part of learning and understanding the agricultural and life sciences. Undergraduates are encouraged to gain independent research experience or obtain positions as hourly workers in groups that are doing research in their area of interest. Students typically work in a research group for credit (see your mentor for course number and appropriate number of credits) or an hourly wage.

There are many advantages to these positions: students experience firsthand the excitement and frustrations of doing research, they learn techniques that can be useful in subsequent research projects, they begin to integrate their course work knowledge with practical research situations, they develop responsible work habits, and they make contacts with researchers who may be able to help them make career decisions and who will be able to recommend them for jobs or graduate or professional school admissions.

Research Opportunities
Undergraduate research experiences are a CALS tradition. You can learn more about the mentored research and independent studies opportunities offered here in CALS.

Resources
Below are some resource sites that have excellent information on undergraduate research opportunities.

Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Many U.S. universities offer funded summer research experiences for undergraduates. Selected announcements will be posted here. A web search will help you find others.

Want to look up published CALS Honors theses?
UW Libraries keep an extensive collection of honors and senior theses. To see all of the CALS senior theses and honors papers in this collection, please visit MINDS@UW.

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Questions about Research

+Is all research lab-based?

Many disciplines in CALS conduct primarily lab-based research, however others do field research, archival research, and so forth. Start by deciding what topics and areas interest you, then talk to faculty members in those areas about what type of research they do and how to get involved.

+Do I have to initiate my own project?

Most of the time, the research you do will be initiated by your mentor (particularly if you are in a lab-based science). They usually have projects in mind related to their research. Some mentors may have you help create a project so that you get more experience in the process of research. However, if you have an idea for a project, you should first discuss this with your mentor and then have it approved by the CALS Honors Dean.

+How do I ask for exceptions to the requirements?

The expectations for students pursuing Honors in Research are clearly outlined in the overview and checklists on our forms page related to the program. However, students may request an exception to a requirement if they feel an experience meets the spirit of one of the Honors requirements. These exceptions must be significant experiences to be reviewed by the Honors Committee. If you want to ask for an exception to a requirement, follow the guidelines below.
Substitution request shall include the following:

  • Syllabus of a course taken at another location OR
  • If you learned about science and discovery without a course, provide documentation that shows how you did this and the key concepts of science that you learned PLUS
  • A letter from your mentor or advisor that verifies your knowledge of science and scientific discovery and supports your substitution request.
+How is my progress monitored?

Once in the Honors Program, students are responsible for monitoring progress toward completion of requirements. The Honors Dean in the CALS Office of Undergraduate Programs and Services is charged with maintaining the integrity of the program for students who are completing the requirements for honors recognition. This Office audits Honors student records each semester and reminds students who are not clearly progressing toward achievement of the Honors requirements of their obligation.
Students who are clearly not achieving the goals of the program by the end of the semester preceding graduation will be notified and removed by Dean’s Action. Students who are not meeting minimum GPA or course requirements for their honors program will be removed from the program prior to the start of their final semester and are not eligible to wear Honors regalia in the commencement ceremony.

+Can I get credit for a course that isn’t offered as an Honors course?

Periodically, students wish to take a course for Honors Credit even though the course is not offered as such. The Office of Undergraduate Programs and Services will grant honors credit if the instructor and student agree to criteria for honors work. Complete and submit a course change form to the Honors Dean in 116 Agriculture Hall if you wish “H” designation for the course as part of your program. Be sure to obtain all of the requested signatures.