It will help you with developing real-world skills sets that are not necessarily taught in classes or scheduled laboratories but are very relevant to employers. In many instances this will involve training in the use of specialized equipment and protocols as well as hypothesis testing, and data collection and interpretation. It provides the applications between classroom theories and real-life scientific explorations. It helps translate "what do you know" into "what you can do" - a critical interview question asked by employers. In some cases, you may also have an opportunity to publish your work alongside a professor.
It depends. There are a number of institutional research programs available through the College and specific Departments that provide student fiscal support in the form of stipends or wages. These programs have an application process and they typically have eligibility requirements. Most are training internships and normally do not require prior research-related work experience. There are also paid research positions associated with grants obtained by individual professors. Candidates for these positions typically apply directly to the Professor and these positions normally require related practical research experience.
For course credit you can typically expect to do 3-4 hours of research related activities per week for each unit of undergraduate course credit. There are no comparable guidelines for volunteer researchers but it is wise to only commit as much time as you can comfortably afford to dedicate. Most professors will indicate what their expectations are ahead of time and, once you are in agreement, they are counting on your consistency and dependability as part of their research team.
Yes, you can receive academic credit for conducting research in a professor's lab by signing up for a one-unit seminar course (NSCI 496). Some degrees and options also allow you to take up to 3 units of Directed Research (Bio/Chem/Geo/Phys 496 and Math 496/497) within the discipline as an elective towards your major - check the CSULB Catalog.
Your acceptance into a research laboratory is by consent of the advisory Professor. Each professor's requirements vary, but most prefer that you have completed a laboratory course (i.e., Chemistry 111A) before joining their lab. Some prefer that you have additional coursework completed as well. It always helps if you have obtained a good grade in one of their classes and have made their personal acquaintance during office hours.
Do some homework. Seek out information about faculty members and their areas of interest. There are several places you can find this information:
You'll need to talk to the faculty you might be interested in working with. A couple things to consider:
A number of the math faculty are actively involved in conducting applied, theoretical and statistical research. Moreover, faculty in the other departments are constantly looking for math students to help compile their data, model it, display it or analyze it. Contact the Math Department Chair or the Math undergraduate and graduate advisors for more information.
Most Summer Enrichment programs are summer residential programs for undergraduate students, which last anywhere from 4 to 10 weeks. Some programs may focus on strengthening necessary study skills such as problem solving, time management, and note taking. Other programs introduce students to science or health careers.
The following table explains the difference between on-campus, academic year research, a summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REUs), and a Summer Enrichment experience.
|Type of Program||Duration||Admission||Emphasis||Nuts & Bolts||Benefits|
|On campus Volunteer Research||Varies but normally a few hours per week that are flexible||Permission of professor||Basic laboratory procedures and skill building. Often involves a training component||Not for course credit or payment||Allows both the student and the professor to assess aptitude and desire to be involved in research. Provides basic laboratory skills needed by most employers|
|On campus Programmatic Research Opportunities (undergraduates)||Varies from one summer to up to three years||Normally has eligibility criteria (financial need, ethnicity, GPA etc) and requires a formal application, review and selection process||Typically related to a programmat-ic theme that involves only certain participating professors||Generally does not offer course credit. Normally paid, sometimes offers tuition and funds for books||Provides team building skills, presentation and often publication possibilities. Often directed towards higher education or a certain career opportunity. Will often involve travel to a conference|
|On-Campus Individual Research Opportunities (undergraduates)||Varies by professor (i.e., summer, academic year, year-round)||Typically, certain course prerequisites; need to contact professor or meet for an interview||Professor's area of research interest||Typically offers course credit, some positions may be paid||Meet others in similar lab experience; career path development; introduction to using specialized lab equipment|
|Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REUs)||Typically 6-10 weeks in the summer||Admission criteria vary, but usually a) personal statement; b) application; c) letter(s) of recommendation; d) GPA; e) specific major||Emphasis varies according to program||Typically offers housing, stipend, and travel reimbursement||Build teamwork skills, meet other STEM majors in a unique research setting; clarify career aspirations|
|Summer Enrichment Programs||Typically 4-10 weeks in the summer||Admission criteria vary, but usually a) personal statement; b) application; c) letter(s) of recommendation||Varies, but may include study skills, time manage-ment workshops, test preparation, introduction to science or health careers||Typically residential programs||Allows for specific opportunity to improve skills, and enrich one's academic progress towards earning a degree|