Assisting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with the protection of coastal environments in Maryland and Hawaii. Working alongside biologist David Hibbett on a national project to produce the first online evolutionary “Tree of Life,” showing the interrelationships among species. Creating a museum exhibit on the art of the Pre-Columbian Olmec culture. Securing Fulbright funding to study the Roman forts along Hadrian’s Wall. Implementing a curriculum to empower Ghanian schoolchildren. Finding ways to curb teenage tobacco use.
These are just a few examples of the research topics our undergraduates have explored. Even better, these students — and many others — have seen their research applied in real and meaningful ways.
You'll find multiple opportunities to conduct research as an undergraduate at Clark; it’s up to you to decide what you want to do.
You could develop your own research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor, internship supervisor or outside partner. You could pursue research funding, fellowships or internships. Or your professors might invite you to work alongside them on a research project in their laboratory or out in the field.
No matter what you do, you’ll be mentored by Clark’s world-class researchers, who have close relationships with local, national and international experts, professional organizations, academic journals and community partners.
Below are some of the opportunities available to you.
LEEP and course-based opportunities
Course-based options drawing upon Clark’s Liberal Education and Effective Practice (LEEP) curricular framework will provide you with the opportunity to take on increasing agency throughout your time at Clark, from the First-Year Intensive (FYI) courses to senior capstone seminars in conducting independent research. If you choose, you also may conduct independent research as part of Clark’s Accelerated B.A./Master's Degree program.
Among the possibilities, you could:
- Gain research experience using the latest scientific equipment in our University labs. Thanks to funding secured by Arshad Kudrolli, Jan and Larry Landry University Professor in the Department of Physics, students have access to complex instruments, including state-of-the-art fluorescent liquid refractive index matching and micro X-ray computer tomography techniques.
- Become involved in Family Impact Seminars, where students and faculty, including the seminars’ director Denise Hines, translate research to Massachusetts policymakers on topics related to families. Clark’s Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise is the sole Massachusetts organizer for this national program.
- Sign up for a research-intensive FYI course and gain immediate hands-on experience in a discipline or field you hope to pursue after graduation. For instance, through Clark’s partnerships with organizations in Worcester, students in a “Healthy Cities” FYI course taught by Marianne Sarkis, associate professor of international development and social change, conducted research and worked with public health officials on projects that have a direct impact on the local community.
- Participate in an “Introduction to Archival Research” seminar, where you study rare books and learn about everything from early paper making to hand-press printing processes. For example, students the course taught by Meredith Neuman, professor of English, have participated in weekly, hands-on lab sessions where they analyze the physical structure of rare books; they also have presented their scholarship in an exhibit at Clark Goddard Library’s Special Collections.
- Gain experience both inside and outside the classroom. For instance, students in an art history seminar helped research, organize and present an exhibit — and accompanying catalog and blog — at the Worcester Art Museum. The seminar, “The Cyanotype: Photography’s Blue Period,” was co-taught Kristina Wilson, associate professor of art history, and Nancy Burns, the museum’s assistant curator of prints, drawings and photographs.
Working with faculty outside of the classroom
Students have the opportunity to work with faculty across the breadth of the university on research outside of class, especially in areas where institutional programs are in place — such as public health, human environment/sustainability, urban education, youth development and human well-being, as well as several options in the sciences.
Faculty also advise student academic clubs, prepare students for competitions and conferences and invite students to work on their research. For example, computer science faculty members Li Han and John Magee have worked with students to participate in global competitions; students also have co-authored and presented papers with Magee.
In addition, students sometimes link their coursework with additional opportunities, such as LEEP projects in the summer. For instance, one student participated in a summer LEEP project that involved research for “The Cyanotype: Photography’s Blue Period,” an exhibit at the Worcester Art Museum.
You may choose to become involved in research through a variety of fellowship programs administered across the university or by individual departments, centers and institutes. Examples include:
- HERO (Human-Environmental Regional Observatory) Fellowships: Through Clark’s intensive, eight-week summer HERO Fellowship, you could work closely with faculty and graduate student mentors on a research project aimed at protecting trees.
- Steinbrecher Fellowship: You might pay for your research by winning one of Clark’s Steinbrecher Fellowship awards, given to eight to 10 students each year and ranging from $500 to $2,500. Past winners have conducted research on experimental breast cancer treatments; the traditions, mythology and perspectives of Native American flute players; and the environmental impacts of high-tech gold mining in Finland.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Internships: If you’re a junior majoring in natural or social sciences, you might apply for a competitive, paid summer internship sponsored by the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise and the George Perkins Marsh Institute, in partnership with the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. Ten-week internships are available in available in NOAA labs and offices nationwide, working in fields such as applied ocean and atmospheric science, policy and science communication.
- Summer science research fellowships: If you’re majoring in the sciences, you might secure a paid eight-to-10-week stipend where you can work with a faculty member and, possibly, a research group on collaborative research. You might even get involved with publishing research findings. Several departments offer fellowships, and the new Sherman Fairchild Foundation Summer Fellows Program will fund 15 interdisciplinary fellowships for undergraduate science majors.
Research events and activities
- Undergraduate research events: Like all of our undergraduate students, you will have the opportunity to present research at one of two festivals each year — Fall Fest or Academic Spree Day — and you may apply for fellowships and funding to present at regional, national and international conferences. Psychology, Geography, Education and other departments often involve undergraduate students in regional, national and international conferences and assist them in identifying ways to find financial assistance, including funding from grants and departments, as well as the Dean of the College office.
- Depending on your major, you might be eligible for additional fellowships and scholarships to fund your research. The Office of Sponsored Programs and Research maintains a list of additional funding sources, both at Clark and outside the University.
- Scholarly Undergraduate Research Journal: Clark’s student-run, interdisciplinary Scholarly Undergraduate Research Journal gives you the opportunity to experience a wide range of publication processes, either as a staff member or author. If you choose to get involved, you may become more aware of research in disciplines across the University — and the world—while learning key editorial, funding and research skills.
Remember: At Clark, you have many options to pursue research, but the choice is yours. Once you graduate from the University, you’ll have more than just a degree; you’ll have research experience — and possibly even publications — that will impress potential employers or graduate schools.