Research is something that I have always wanted to do. As a young student at my quaint little elementary school, I would often observe the behavior of worms or look at ladybugs through the lens of my magnifying glass. No bug was safe from my inquisitive eye. It was clear that I wanted to conduct experiments. I wanted to research things, and make new discoveries. I wanted to learn about the world’s greatest mysteries. I never expected that I would have the ability to make my own little mark the moment I stepped on campus.
The University of Notre Dame wants and encourages undergraduates to get involved with research. There are several opportunities available through Notre Dame’s extensive research programs. Whether you are a freshman or a senior, there is something for everyone to get involved in.
Notre Dame, as a research institution, has a wide range of faculty who work in their own laboratories. Whether your interests lie in math, physics, psychology, biology, chemistry, or engineering, there is surely a faculty member out there looking for undergraduate researchers to train and develop. Several of these faculty members also teach freshman classes, so you can get a taste for their individual interests and personalities from the beginning of your academic career. Furthermore, getting involved early is a great way to ensure future research opportunities for yourself and strengthen your skillset for jobs or internships. All you have to do is find what you want to research, and contact the faculty member associated with that research via email. It really is that simple.
If the sciences aren’t where your interests lie, or you just want to research independently, Notre Dame offers a massive variety of grants, fellowships, and funding. For instance, through the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE), one is able to apply for a grant to conduct his own personal research. This research can be about anything – ranging from environmental studies to historical analyses to social investigations. The University really works to fund those who have a passion for discovery. In addition, these opportunities are a great chance for students to explore the world through travel and observation. The Nanovic Institute for European Studies, for example, offers grants to those seeking to gain research experience in Europe over the breaks.
In my own time, I applied for a Nanovic Research Grant specifically for first-year students looking to do research over spring break. Although it took a lot of work and planning, the experience of writing my own grant proposal was an exciting new experience. Planning out my own budget, deciding where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do, and detailing the methods I wanted to use was tremendously rewarding and informative.
Beyond these opportunities, Notre Dame’s Center for Career Development can connect you with other sources of information regarding research. Whether this information be about the perks of research, or outside sources of funding, the Center for Career Development is a valuable resource to the aspiring investigator. Their database of statistics for undergraduate majors can help steer you in the right direction when it comes to what recommended path you should take on the way to your desired career – whether that involves shadowing professionals, studying in a lab, or taking particular classes.
The University of Notre Dame gives a tremendous amount of flexibility and freedom to its undergraduates. If you have a desire to travel, learn, or discover, Notre Dame gives you the tools to do that. Her care for the intellectual development of students is truly in a class of its own.