An important part of understanding the field you study and want to work in is practical experience. One of the ways you can do this is through research and creative expression. Research takes place in all colleges and all fields of study at the university.  Whether your interests are in the arts, humanities, or sciences, you can be involved in research at Iowa.

Why is research and creative expression important?

Undergraduate research is a mentored investigation or creative inquiry conducted by undergraduates that seeks to make a scholarly or artistic contribution to knowledge. Research lets you apply knowledge you have learned in the classroom and is a great way to learn about your career options. Being involved in research is also important if you are considering graduate or professional school. Pursuing research and creative expression develops your problem-solving skills, allows you to work in teams with others, and improves your communication skills. These are skills that will benefit you in the workplace or if you continue your education beyond an undergraduate degree. 

Where can I find these kinds of opportunities?

To learn about opportunities for research and creative expression, the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) is a great place to start. Begin by reviewing the How to Find a Research Position page on the OUR website and sign up for OUR mailing list or keep an eye on their open research position listings. You should also talk with your TAs, or professors, about research they are familiar with. Paid research positions can be found through Handshake. If you are applying for a paid research position, you likely need a resume. If you do not have one yet, look at the Pomerantz Career Center website for information on how to build a resume. You may also need a cover letter or portfolio. Advisors at the Pomerantz Career Center or Engineering Career Services can help you with all aspects of your application.  

How do you prepare?

Undergraduate students who are already involved in research are a great resource for you. They can help you understand the responsibilities and commitments of being involved and talk to you about how they enjoy and benefit from their experience. They can tell you about how they found their position and the mentor they work for. There are multiple research festivals each year where undergraduates share their work with the university community. Attend these, talk to the student presenters, meet with an OUR research ambassador, and look into work that interests you. Remember, as you engage in a research experience, reflect on how this opportunity has helped you apply what you have learned in the classroom and how you may use skills learned during this experience in your future career. 

Who can help?

ICRU is a great resource when looking for research opportunities or when considering how to apply. Meet with the staff at OUR or reach out to an undergraduate OUR research ambassador if you have questions about how to get started with research. If you have a specific area that interests you, such as community engagement or the environment, utilize the specific offices on campus. There are a great many people who are ready to help, just ask.

woman presenting at Undergraduate Research Festival

Honors Research

Honors students at Iowa are encouraged to engage in research as part of the experiential learning component of their program. Research is done in all departments, not just STEM, so if you are interested in being part of a research project, look at the Honors website for more information. 

Learn More
person on stage giving presentation

Conference Presentation

Students who are participating in research or labs often have the opportunity to attend conferences or events where they can present their work and learn about other research their peers are working on. 

Learn More
Smart Goggles The AIRLab at the University of Iowa

Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU)

ICRU is a great place for undergraduates to get started with research. Check out their website for advising on what type of research you can pursue, information ongoing research, and lists of open research positions.  

Learn More