Undergraduate Research


The Value of Undergraduate Research

Whether a student’s long-term plans are medical school, graduate school, other professional school or one of a myriad of other STEM-related careers, we strongly encourage our NSCS students to participate in research with one of our faculty members.  Active participation in research builds a deep understanding of the process of research, helps to crystallize concepts presented in the classroom, and develops critical thinking skills, as well as teamwork, communication, and other professional skills.  On this campus, undergraduate researchers are prized members of our cutting-edge research teams, with many students earning authorship on abstracts and on journal articles and many students attending national and international meetings, often to present their research.

How to Get Involved in Research

Why should you participate in undergraduate research?

As a land-grant, AAU, and research-one university, The University of Arizona and the College of Science offer a vast array of undergraduate research experiences for its students. Undergraduates at the College of Science have access to world-class research and faculty to engage in valuable experiential learning opportunities.


Undergraduate students who engage in research during their academic career are given the opportunity to:

  • Gain deeper understanding of science through hands-on experiences
  • Get experience in, and connect deeply with, their field
  • Work side-by-side and network with world-class faculty and other undergraduate and graduate students
  • Develop valuable critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork skills that future employers and graduate schools are looking for
  • Make significant advances in their field while early in their career; several students have been published before graduating!

How to get started in undergraduate research:

Before you explore undergraduate research opportunities, ask yourself, what do hope to get out of the experience? Are you hoping to get any experience, or find a good resume builder? Do you wish to network with faculty members, researchers, graduate students, and other undergraduate students? Do you have specific skills you want to develop through a research experience? Perhaps you have scientific questions you’ve always wanted to answer. Or are you just genuinely curious and want to explore what research is like?

In the next step in your journey to connect to research take an inventory of your interests. We recommend you create a list to visualize your “data.” Ask yourself:

  • What were your favorite classes (in high school and in college)?
  • Do you look forward to taking particular courses in your major?
  • Do certain tracks, areas, or specialties related to your major interested you?
  • What areas interest you outside of your major?
  • Are there any opportunities to collaborate with major interests and interests outside of your major?

There are many ways for undergraduate students to get involved in research. Options for involvement include:

  • Directed research courses (generally NSCS/NROS 392 or 492)
  • Independent research course (generally NSCS/NROS 399 or 499)
  • Summer REU’s (Research Experience for Undergrads)
  • Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships
  • Other competitive research programs (such as UBRPUROC-PREP, or SRI)
  • Volunteering in faculty research labs and projects
  • Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences - ex. NROS 397 & 440

Once you have figured out what areas of research you would like to engage in, and what type of experience is best suited for you, the next step is to find faculty and researchers connected to your areas of interest. There are a few different ways to do this.

After finding faculty members you would be interested in working with, create a list of 7-10 (if possible) faculty members to contact.

After compiling your list of faculty members, start to email them a few at a time. Start with your top three, wait a week, and if you haven’t heard back, email your next three. We suggest using the email as a way to connect with the faculty member and to begin the cultivation of the relationship. You can choose to state your intention, i.e. getting involved in their lab, having them serve as your faculty mentor for independent research, etc. We would recommend that you ask to schedule a meeting with them and then ask in person.

When emailing faculty:

  • Introduce yourself, your year, your major, and your interests.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the faculty member’s research.
  • Identify why you are interested in their research, how your interests align with their research, and mention any classes or contacts you’ve had that show your interest.
  • Ask to schedule a meeting. Provide your availability and ask what would be best for them.
  • Be professional.

Additionally, here are two good resources for emailing faculty from UC Berkley, and UC Santa Cruz.

Meeting with faculty:

  • Dress business casual.
  • Have a conversation with them before asking to conduct research with them.
  • Bring a list of questions about the faculty member’s research with you.
  • Bring a copy of your resume and schedule.
  • Send a follow-up email/thank you after the meeting.

Enrolling for Research Credit

Students who wish to earn research credit must first identify a faculty member who has agreed to supervise their work. If you have not yet identified a mentor, see our section below on "How to Get Involved in Research." Students who have identified a faculty mentor should use the research enrollment form linked below to enroll in research credit. NSCS can enroll students for research credit regardless of their faculty mentor's primary department. In fact, all NSCS students are strongly encouraged to enroll through NSCS and versus a different department. This helps us track where our students are and what they are doing, information that is very valuable when selecting students for various awards!

Research Enrollment Form

Undergraduate Research Awards

Hildebrand Scholarship

John G. Hildebrand Endowment in Neuroscience
Summer Research Stipend

The Department of Neuroscience will award up to two (2) stipends* for summer research at the University of Arizona.  The stipend will provide support for highly worthy undergraduates to pursue summer research. Award recipients must commit to a program of full-time summer research (12 weeks) between May and August.

Preference shall be given to students who conduct their research projects in the Department of Neuroscience and who intend to pursue graduate study in a doctoral research program in neuroscience or a related life-sciences field, but not to health-sciences professional school such as medical or dental school. Preference may be given to students with financial need as determined by the Office of Student Financial Aid.

Eligibility: University of Arizona (UA) undergraduate students who are majors or pre-majors in NSCS, in good academic standing (cumulative GPA 3.0 or higher) who have been accepted to do summer research in a laboratory at the UA shall be eligible to receive this award. Completion of 6 or more credits during the Spring the application is submitted and enrollment for a minimum of 6 credit hours for the subsequent Fall is required. 

Link to Spring 2025 announcement and application to come. 

View past scholars and hear their stories

Tolbert Scholarship

Leslie P Tolbert Endowment in Neuroscience
Research Stipend

The Leslie P Tolbert Endowment in Neuroscience Research Stipend seeks to provide financial support to undergraduate students to pursue authentic research, under faculty mentorship, in the biological basis of brain function. This Fund is intended to enable the students to engage deeply in authentic neuroscience research and research-related activities. Supported students will be expected to do their research in the laboratories of tenure-track faculty at The University of Arizona (the "UA") who investigate any aspect of neuroscience, from molecular to cognitive, at the biological level. This Fund may be used to provide support for research activities during the academic year or in the summer months. In addition to supporting UA-based research directly, it may be used to travel for field work or a research-related conference or for conducting research at a non-UA colleague's laboratory. If used to attend a conference, it is not necessary that student present a talk or poster at the conference.

Recipients shall be undergraduate students at UA who are pre-majors or majors in the Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (NSCS) major or in related majors (e.g., Molecular and Cellular Biology, Psychology, Physiological Sciences) that allow them to work in neuroscience laboratories. Highest priority will be given to students in NSCS. Students are eligible for funding in multiple years but must reapply and go through the selection process prior to each award.

The award is given on a bi-annual basis. 

Link to announcement and Spring 2025 application to come.