What is Research?
Research is the effort to discover new knowledge via experiments, theory, or calculation. As a student in the LSU College of Science, you have the chance to do original scientific research under the direction of a faculty member.
What are the benefits of participating in research?
- Get real-world, hands-on experience in your chosen discipline.
- Build expertise in the lab setting
- Enhance your skills in observation, analysis, and communication
- Develop your own unique perspective on how new science is done
- Obtain a competitive advantage in your search for jobs or graduate education.
What are the opportunities for research as an undergraduate student?
You can do research in several different ways:
- Associated with a faculty member (sometimes called “in a faculty member’s research group”), during the regular semester or the summer. This may be a volunteer position, for course credit, or for pay;
- As part of an organized program with multiple students. One of the most common of these programs is an REU (“Research Experiences for Undergraduates”) program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Some of our departments have REU or similar programs that you can apply to;
- Either of the above, but outside the College of Science. You might find a faculty research advisor elsewhere at LSU or a program offered by another college, university, or national laboratory.
Each academic department in the College of Science provides information on undergraduate research. Using the links below, learn about specific opportunities and programs that are available to you! You will see various procedures to start your journey.
This is another great way to get started! You can chat with student Research Ambassadors, look at a database of possible faculty mentors, check a listing of research programs at LSU, or even apply for funding that can pay for your research. LSU Discover also sponsors Discover Day every spring, and the Summer Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF), where you can present your research results.
Students presenting results at the Summer Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF)
Visit faculty members in your department
Learn about the research interests of faculty members in your major department by checking out their research webpages. When you find some that sound cool, email them and ask if you can make an appointment to learn about their research. (Hint: this is flattering! Faculty members don’t bite. They like to talk about their research!!) Or just stop by their office and ask. Do they have an opening? Or might they have an opening next semester? If not, do they know of a colleague who is looking for an undergraduate researcher?
Do you have Work-Study financial aid, or another award such as President’s Aide or PFLR?
These are awards that allow you to earn money through a campus job. Did you know that this campus job can be to do research with a faculty mentor? First step: go to your major department office, and tell them you want to use your work-study or other award to do research. Faculty mentors are more likely to say “yes” if they know you have your own funds.
Are you looking for something off-campus?
Maybe you already have some research experience working with a faculty mentor at LSU, and you are interested in trying something different. You can ask your faculty mentor, or ask in the undergraduate office in your major department, if they know of opportunities. Here are some examples:
- The National Science Foundation supports “REUs” (Research Experiences for Undergraduates), some of which are international. Plan ahead, because they have early application deadlines. You can search for REU programs by subject/topic or by location.
- Other federal agencies, such as the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health, have science opportunities for undergraduates too. Some of these are during the summer, and others are during the fall or spring semester.