Research for Undergraduates

Why research?

  • Learn new skills
  • Apply the skills learned in the classroom in a real world setting
  • Gain an insight into the world of academia
  • Experiences can help you decide if a Masters or PhD is the right choice
  • Find out what environments you prefer (i.e. clinical vs. laboratory vs. field) 
  • Form valuable relationships with faculty members

Research resources and opportunities


AIHS (Alberta Innovates Health Solutions) Summer Students

The AIHS Summer Studentships offer students registered in an Alberta-based undergraduate program the opportunity to participate in medical or health research in Alberta during the summer months. The award is meant to encourage students to consider pursuing formal training and a career in health research. Applications are submitted directly to AIHS.

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Program for Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE)

PURE provides financial support to undergraduates to conduct research for 8, 12 or 16 weeks between May and August. The support is for students at any stage of their undergraduate programs, and applications from students in the early stages of their programs are strongly encouraged. Applications are made to the Office of the Provost.

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NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA)

These awards are meant to stimulate students' interest in research in natural sciences and engineering, and encourage them to pursue a research career in these fields.

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Industrial Undergraduate Student Awards (Industrial USRA)

This award is for undergraduate students in the Natural Sciences or Engineering fields. It is held outside the university setting at one or more NSERC-approved research and development facilities chosen by the student (16-week full time position). Applications are made to the host organization.

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DAAD Undergraduate Scholarships – Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE)

These scholarships are designed to foster research and work experience in an international setting (Germany). Details available from the International Student Programs, Faculty of Science, at science.international@ucalgary.ca

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Undergraduate Student Research Program in Health and Wellness (USRP)

This program provides students with the opportunity to partner with a faculty mentor with similar research interests in health and wellness over either the summer or fall and winter session. 30 studentships of $6000 are available in the summer, and 15 studentships of $4000 available during the fall and winter session. Students from all faculties are welcome to apply.

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Graeme Bell Travel Awards (In Health & Wellness)

Two Travel Awards may be given for each of the February and September application sessions. To be eligible, the student research must fall under the large umbrella of "Health and Wellness", and travel must fall within the specific period of time outlined in the application.

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O’Brien Center Funding (Summer Studentships)

The O’Brien Centre Summer Studentships are meant to encourage students to consider pursuing work experience in health research. Domestic and international studentship awards are offered up to $7000. The award may be held for a minimum of 2 months, and a maximum of 4 months during the period of May to August.

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How to get started

The first step is to find a professor whose research you are interested in. You can:

  • Browse the department websites and read about the professors' research interests 
  • Ask a professor who is teaching you about their research
  • Attend events such as the Undergraduate Research Symposium and see the kind of research students took part in this summer. If you see a project you really like, ask the student about it and get in touch with their Supervisor.

Once you’ve found a professor whose research appeals to you:

  • Read a few of their papers to gain a deeper understanding of the professor’s research
  • Email the professor expressing interest in their research:
  • Include your transcript and resume
  • Include reasons for why you want to work on their research specifically
  • Include any relevant experience not listed in your resume, i.e. from lab courses, etc.

Some researchers will be looking for summer students, while others won’t. Don’t be discouraged if someone turns you away! The more people you contact, the better chances you have at finding a position and entering the exciting field of research.

Find out about how the professors’ lab operates and what your role will be.

Depending on the professor and their research, they might assign you a project or you might be able to propose a project yourself. This will vary from person to person, so ask your professor about it.

There are countless opportunities to present your research from the summer. Events such as the SU’s Undergraduate Research Symposium allow you to showcase your work while being eligible for thousands of dollars in prizes!