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FAQs about Research

Why do research?
There is a synergy between research and classroom learning. Research enables students to engage in hands-on, discovery-based learning, to develop critical skills while examining a subject in collaboration with outstanding scientists and scholars, and to contribute to the production of knowledge. Go to the interviews of our featured  Researchers of the Month and see what students say about the benefits of research!

When can I start?
All Stony Brook undergraduates—including freshmen and transfer students—are eligible to participate in independent supervised research and creative activities. Most students earn academic credit for their research activities (e.g. 487, 488, and/or 499 courses), although a small number of students are able to be paid as research assistants. Many students begin as volunteers in a lab, and then apply for credit once they are more familiar with the lab environment. SB students engaged in a supervised research or creative project are encouraged to register (even it is for zero credits) so that the university can track the number of students involved in research.

An early start on research can be valuable; but keep in mind that preparatory coursework may be required by a faculty mentor and may provide a necessary foundation for doing substantial research later in your undergraduate career. Students who undertake independent projects in their junior and senior years still have the opportunity to collaborate with Stony Brook faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and to become involved in cutting-edge work.

Should I do research in the summer?
Opportunities are particularly good during the summer when many universities offer programs in a wide variety of subjects. These programs enable students to have a sustained, in-depth research experience. Participants usually receive a stipend, and free room, board and roundtrip airfare as well. Please note that most summer fellowship programs require a full time commitment (i.e. no other coursework or employment).

Is there funding available?
Check  On-Campus Opportunities for updates and announcements regarding research fellowships, grants and internships. The URECA program offers URECA small/travel grants as well as a summer program for students doing faculty-mentored research. In addition, externally-funded programs such as REU Site Programs and/or NSF Fellowship supplements may provide stipend support for students engaged in research on and off campus.

Social science projects: do I need approval by the Human Subjects Board?
For more info, please check with your mentor and review the policies of the Research Foundation.

If I'm accepted into a lab, do I need any special training?
For lab safety training, consult the  Environmental Health & Safety website. You may, for instance, need to take ELS 002 (Lab Safety-Chem Hazards) and ENV 001 (Hazardous Waste Management). Consult with your mentor whether ELS 003 (Biohazards) is required. In addition, undergraduate researchers should be aware of the university policies on Responsible Conduct of Research. Please see: and complete the relevant On-line Training modules through the web-based Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI).

Additional Advice:
Your best information about a particular lab will probably come from talking with other students or with members of the lab, including graduate students, technicians and post docs. You may also wish to consult such practical guides as At the Bench: A Laboratory Navigator by Kathy Barker (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 1998).

*More great, practical advice is available online at:  WebGuru and through the  UCI Student Researchers' Handbook.