Some medical schools require research, which is an advantage in the application process at most schools. The independence and depth of learning beyond textbooks are excellent training for medical school. Lab skills, literature review, problem-solving, and creativity cross easily into medicine. Research can be in the basic sciences, clinical application, social science, and many other fields. It can occur during the school year or summer. You can begin thinking about research opportunities as soon as you feel comfortable. A basic understanding of research and research methodology will help prepare you for advanced study and continuing education. Remember that a big part of discovering your research interest is getting to know your professors and the labs on campus. This can be done by talking with your TAs and attending office hours to learn more.
We recommend reaching out directly to professors you are interested in working with. Reviewing their publication's website and meeting with them to develop a relationship and learn more about their work is good. While there is no specific timeline for this, many students will begin the process in their second semester. Ideally, you will have three full semesters working in a science lab or two full semesters completed working in a lab outside of the College of Science.
Attend the COS-SURF and FURF Research poster sessions in October and May to better understand undergraduate research opportunities.
The College of Science provides many resources to help students find research opportunities on and off campus. Research questions can also be directed to Dr. Sheryl Lu., Undergraduate Research Coordinator for the College of Science.
It is key that you are an active team member and have grown through the experience. Research without transformation and enthusiasm for your project is less helpful.
Again, this advice is slightly different for those students who wish to become physician researchers. These students should be highly involved with research early in their college careers and have multiple semesters in the same lab to grow in skills and research independence.