You have the opportunity to participate in many undergraduate research activities on and off campus. Research opportunities can look very different for many students. Some students work in a lab on an ongoing project alongside their classes, some participate in structured summer programs, and others do a combination of experiences. We encourage AMEP students to explore their interests and get involved with research if they want to. This opportunity board maintained by AMEP has some research opportunities listed.
UW-Madison has many resources for students looking to get involved with research. The Wisconsin Institute for Science Education and Community Engagement (WISCIENCE) has a comprehensive Guide to Undergraduate Research that is a great starting point for students to reference as they start their research journey. They also have several courses that are focused on students engaging in STEM research.
The Wisconsin Institute for Discovery has a great resource to help students find research on campus. The Wisconsin Discovery Portal is a tool you can use to explore current research topics at UW-Madison and see if there are people doing work that interests you. You can also look up specific faculty members to see their most recent research activities and get a better idea of what they’re working on currently.
The AMEP Program sponsors the AMEP Lab, an interdisciplinary research lab with a primary focus on fluid-structure interactions and soft matter physics directed by Professor Saverio Spagnolie.
The Math Department hosts the Madison Experimental Mathematics (MXM) Lab which runs a semester-long undergraduate research program. Students will work in small teams under the mentorship of a graduate student and faculty member on a project proposed and led by the faculty in an active field of mathematics.
The Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) program provides first and second year students, and first year transfer students, with the opportunity to engage in research and enhance their academic experience at UW-Madison. This program places students with a research mentor and gives them tools to succeed in their research.
UW-Madison’s Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP) offers unique opportunities for undergraduates to work closely with faculty and graduate students in a variety of disciplines. This is a great opportunity to get involved in a short-term project to see what you like and dislike about research or the field the research focuses on. Depending on the nature of the project and the availability of the faculty member, this could even turn into a longer-term project that you work on alongside coursework in the Fall and Spring.
For students involved in research, the Undergraduate Symposium is a great opportunity to practice presenting your research to experts and non-experts in a professional setting. Being able to communicate the goals and outcomes of your research project is just as important as the research itself. This gives you practice with writing about your work, concisely describing it verbally, and answering questions from people with a wide range of knowledge on the subject of your project.
There are many programs that host research opportunities, but the most popular by far is the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. Institutions across the country host these programs which allow students to participate in research projects that may not be available to them at their home institution. These programs are highly competitive so advance preparation of application materials is critical. REUs are a great way for students to explore new research topics while getting paid to work on the project.
Some companies and institutions offer internships which are research-based. Many students have the misconception that research equals academia when in reality, industry research is very common and valuable to the advancement of many fields. Especially for those looking for a career in research outside of academia, doing a research internship would be a valuable experience. A good starting place to finding internships would be Handshake, UW-Madison’s career platform designed for students.
About half of our alumni go to graduate school before entering the workforce, whether that’s in academia or industry. Research is a great way to prepare for grad school and get an idea of what you would want to prioritize in a program. If you have questions or just want to talk about grad school, AMEP advisors are the best resource.
Below are some of the graduate programs that have admitted AMEP students in recent years:
- California Institute of Technology (Caltech) Department of Aeronautics
- Courant Institute, NYU Department of Mathematics
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Department of Mathematics
- Northwestern University Department of Materials Science and Engineering
- University of Chicago Department of Medical Physics
- University of Colorado, Boulder Department of Applied Mathematics
- UW-Madison Department of Computer Science
- UW-Madison Department of Materials Science and Engineering
- UW-Madison Department of Medical Physics