Many McBride Honors students gain valuable research experience by working in the labs of CSM faculty or by pursuing a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. McBride strongly encourages (but does not require) students to gain this kind of experience – whether in science/technology or a liberal arts field. The program also works with students to help them identify, pursue, and complete various opportunities.
If you are thinking about graduate school in any field (law, medicine, STEM, policy, etc), you are strongly encouraged to gain meaningful research experience now, while you are an undergraduate. Real research experience will make you a much more competitive applicant. It will also help you succeed in graduate school. Accordingly, you should begin investigating your options early – ideally in your sophomore year, and certainly no later than the beginning of your junior year.
Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU):
A great way to gain research experience is to participate in an REU. These competitive and prestigious opportunities are funded by the National Science Foundation and offered at top universities in the US and abroad. A typical REU Site consists of a group of ten or so undergraduates who work in the research programs of the host institution. Each student works closely with the faculty and other researchers. Students often receive stipends ($2,000-$5000) and assistance with housing and travel. Most summer REUs last ten weeks.
For more information, and to search for REU opportunities by STEM field, location, and area of interest, go to the NSF website.
Note that to apply, you must submit an application directly to the university offering the REU. In most cases, the NSF webpage will direct you to information about an REU Site on a university’s webpage; from there, you can get more information and an application. Note that neither McBride nor NSF has application materials or selects student participants. However, if you are interested in REU, please come seek help from the Program Director or a faculty mentor in your discipline. Students supported with NSF funds must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
Honors Thesis or Independent Research:
Other options for gaining substantial research experience include an independent Directed Research Project or an Honors Thesis, both of which may be used to meet the McBride Practicum requirement. The Honors Thesis represents the ultimate student achievement, and will clearly identify you as an enterprising student with meaningful research experience. If you elect to do an Honors Thesis, you should begin your work during the fall of the junior year by taking the initiative to define your topic and the problem or question/s you wish to pursue. You should complete the thesis no later than April of the senior year.
For an Honors Thesis or Directed Research Project, it is your responsibility to find a faculty sponsor on campus. You also must meet with, discuss, and obtain written approval for your research project from the program director. The topic of the thesis must be relevant to the mission and goals and objectives of the McBride Program and involve substantial original research. The final product should be an original, well-documented paper which is presented and defended before McBride and other Mines faculty, staff, and students.
The McBride Program offers award support to help students complete REUs or other research opportunities – especially if conducted abroad. To be eligible for award support, the research experience must meet one of the following criteria: (a) it is unpaid or for very low pay; (b) it includes high unreimbursed expenses, such as for supplies, a program fee, or travel.
There are numerous other opportunities to gain research experience. Many great options take place right here on the CSM campus. Some other promising organizations that facilitate undergraduate research are listed below:
A unique study abroad program for advanced students whereby students conduct research at a high caliber institution while taking a language and culture class. Eleven leading European research universities are participating as host institutions for the exceptional students in this program. A great way to combine study abroad and research experience.
Search here for REU opportunities (as described above).
National Institutes of HealthThe NIH offers a highly competitive summer internship program in biomedical research. Through this program, students have the opportunity to conduct research with some of the leading scientist in the world. NIH provides hands-on research experience to students interested in careers in the biochemistry or medical field. The organization also organizes summer activities that include scientific skills workshops, workshops to help students get into graduate school or medical school, and brown bag career exploration lunches.
This summer internship experience provides student with the opportunity to gain hands on research experience under the guidance of a mentor. RISE is for students in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences and engineering. The program and partener universities provide students with a stipend to cover living expences and assistance with housing.
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center REU
The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center will consider applications from currently enrolled undergraduate and beginning graduate students, or students who have recently graduated from an undergraduate or Masters program. The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center's (SERC) Internship Program offers undergraduate and beginning graduate students a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the fields of environmental research and education. This program enables students to work on specific projects under the direction of SERC's professional staff and is tailored to provide the maximum educational benefit to each participant. Since 2001 the SERC internship program has been designated as an REU site by the National Science Foundation. With this funding, along with generous donations from the Smithsonian Women's Committee, and University partnerships we are able to provide internship opportunities to qualified undergraduate students looking to further their knowledge in the sciences. Projects include terrestrial, atmospheric and estuarine environmental research within the disciplines of ecology, biology, chemistry, microbiology, botany, zoology, mathematics and physics. Projects are also offered in environmental education and environmental information management. The DHS HS-STEM Summer Internship Program provides a ten week summer research experience for undergraduate and graduate students majoring in Department of Homeland Security-related science, technology, engineering and mathematics (HS-STEM) disciplines. Students will have the opportunity to conduct research in DHS mission-relevant areas at federal research facilities located across the country. Participants receive a stipend plus transportation expenses to/from their internship location. The DHS Summer Research Team Program for Minority Serving Institutions provides research opportunities to increase and enhance the scientific leadership at Minority Serving Institutions in research areas that support the mission and goals of DHS. The program supports research teams composed of a faculty member and up to two students (undergraduate or graduate level) for a ten week summer appointment. Participants conduct research at university-based DHS Centers of Excellence.
The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, a major research center, offers opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in the Laboratory's ongoing research programs. Research areas include Physical and Life Sciences, Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering. Also applied research programs relating to Energy, Conservation, Environmental Impact and Technology, Nanomaterials, National Security, and Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems.