Undergraduates Do Cutting-Edge Research in the College of Letters and Science
Being an Aggie has many rewards, but chief among them is the opportunity to work side-by-side with faculty whose research is shaping our state, nation and world. The opportunities to do real-world research as an undergraduate at UC Davis are limitless.
Collaborate with faculty
Faculty and other researchers in nearly every discipline across the college frequently seek undergraduate students to assist them in their research. If you are curious about a professor's area of expertise, you can ask about pursuing a collaborative project.
- Brynna Thigpen (B.S., psychology, ’17) got an early introduction to scientific research. As a sophomore, she became a research assistant at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain, where she worked alongside postdoctoral researcher Emily Kappenman (Ph.D., psychology, ’12) to design and conduct experiments on memory development in children. Thigpen was one of six undergraduates to first participate in the Accelerating Success by Providing Intensive Research Experience program, or ASPIRE.
Spend a summer doing research
Interested in getting your hands dirty? For majors in geology or anthropology, there’s a summer class for that.
- Geology offers “Summer Field,” a capstone course for juniors and seniors. Students spend six weeks in the wilderness learning how to document complex geological phenomena.
- Offered since the 1970s, the Archeological Field School provides students with a foundation in archaeological survey, excavation and other field methods—training that can lead to employment after graduation. Read about a recent dig.
Explore your passions, change your path
The College of Letters and Science encourages students to think beyond their majors, and doing research in another field can open your thinking about how to apply all of your learning now and for a lifetime.
- When Shadd Cabalatungan (B.A., sociology, ’15) found out his aunt had breast cancer, he decided to join a research team at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. Though he entered UC Davis thinking he wanted to be a veterinarian and majored in sociology, his cancer research led him to a career in human medicine. Today, he is a medical student at Stony Brook University.
Take a class with research at its core
Arts and humanities majors sometimes think research is only for STEM majors, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
- Maybe you are interested in fashion. Did you know there’s a design class where you can learn how to grow clothes? In “BioDesign Theory and Practice,” students get hands-on experience with materials like kombucha culture to learn about sustainable design practices that explore alternatives to the use of plant and animal-based materials.
- Perhaps you are interested in studying English, but want to know how to apply data. Through the Data Studies program, students have a unique opportunity to take their major and apply it to the world of data, learning how to question, analyze and present data research that will enable them to get jobs.
Now that you’ve finished your research, present it!
The annual Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Conference is a great opportunity to show what you know.