Undergraduate Research

As part of her LEEP project, Elisabeth Spak '16 considers the
pre-Columbian Olmec Incised Standing Figure at a video
shoot for a Worcester Art Museum exhibit.

You'll find multiple opportunities to conduct research as an undergraduate at Clark; it’s up to you to decide how you want to participate. For instance:

  • 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.
  • Your professors could 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 research opportunities available to you at Clark.

LEEP and course-based opportunities

Odgerel Chintulga standing in front of mountain in Mongolia
Via a LEEP project, environmental science
major Odgerel Chintulga
investigated the
impact of mining on communities in Mongolia.

Course-based options drawing upon Clark’s Liberal Education and Effective Practice (LEEP) curricular framework will allow you to progress in your research, from the First-Year Intensive (FYI) courses to senior capstone seminars in conducting independent research.

Among the possibilities, you could:

Working with faculty outside of the classroom

Computer science students participating in a competition
Computer science students with their
professor, John Magee.

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.

Fellowship opportunities

Justin Woods standing in front of Jonas Clark Hall
Sociology major Justin Woods '18 received a
Clark Steinbrecher Fellowship to study the
experience for first-generation college

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.
    Five HERO Fellows and doctoral student-mentor standing in field with trees in background
    Geography doctoral student Zhiwen Zhu with
    HERO Fellows Eli Simonson, Savannah Sanford,
    Emma Freud, Rishi Singh and Tyler Anderson.

  • 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 Clark’s Interdisciplinary Summer Research Program funds up to 15 interdisciplinary fellowships for undergraduate science majors.

Research events and activities

Amiel Jaggernauth and his professor, Neva Meyer, looking at a biological sample
Amiel Jaggernauth, seen here with his biology
professor, Néva Meyer, presented a research
poster titled “Elucidating the effects of ectopic
BMP signaling on neural development in the
annelid Capitella teleta”at Fall Fest.

  • 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.

Pictured at top: From left, Donald Spratt, Carl J. and Anna Carlson Endowed Chair in Chemistry, and five of the 14 students working his lab: seniors Noah Schwaegerle, Roela Bardhi, Emlie Ogisu, Lara Prosterman and Pinky Htun.