The Krieger School of Arts and Sciences currently offers more than a dozen undergraduate research grants across all disciplines. Note that while they all require the same application materials, they offer different award amounts, and some have more specific criteria for the types of projects that can be funded.
All undergraduate students majoring in a Krieger School department are eligible to apply for an URSCA award, to be used in the following year. In other words, you apply as a sophomore to fund a project that you will undertake in your junior year. You may apply to only one award each year, but if the reviewers think you would be a better fit for one of the other awards, you may be considered for that award instead.
Woodrow Wilson Fellowships are open to first-year Krieger School students only (rising sophomores). These are three-year awards.
The Meg Walsh Award is available to current seniors, for use after graduation. All other awards are open to first-years, sophomores, and juniors only.
You may not apply for funding for a project that has already been supported by an award from another Hopkins office (e.g., HOUR, Sheridan Libraries) in the same year. You may apply for a related project, but priority is given to students who have not yet had the opportunity to conduct funded research.
Research is the systematic investigation of a particular topic to learn facts and draw conclusions. Research is work to acquire new knowledge. Research is a careful inquiry. At Johns Hopkins, research is an integral part of the academic environment, and a valuable experience for undergraduates to pursue.
Consider your reasons for doing research
There are many good reasons for doing research. You might be looking for ways to apply the skills and knowledge you’ve learned in your classes in a real context. Or you may be genuinely interested in a topic and want to see how you can get more involved. One of the reasons not to do research is because you feel you have to or that it’s expected. Forcing yourself to do something you are not intrinsically motivated to do will show in your end product and will reflect negatively on you as a researcher.
Brainstorm possible research areas
- Investigate issues or subjects that pique your interest and find out what kind of research is being conducted in those areas.
- Look for gaps in existing scholarship. Your research should be original, so you don’t want to devote a lot of time to something that’s already been extensively studied.
- Keep in mind that some academic departments require that students have a combination of knowledge of the subject and practical skills (like computer programming) before they can begin research. Please consult with the faculty in the department where you want to do research if you have questions.
- Also look into what you’ll be doing physically for your research experience. Many biological labs involve a lot of pipetting and minute work that isn’t for everyone. Other labs require a lot of programming and data manipulation. Sometimes students participate in clinical research, which is mostly patient interaction. How do you want to conduct your research?
Find a research opportunity or a faculty mentor
In the natural sciences, once you know the topic and type of research you want to do, start looking for available research opportunities. Attend research seminars and symposia on campus and check the message boards in your department. You can also visit the faculty page of different department websites, where faculty list their research interests and current projects. If applicable, read the papers or journal articles they have published.
In the humanities, social sciences, and math, once you have a topic, you will need to find a faculty sponsor. This person will help guide you through your research project, prompting you along the way and making sure you stay on track. One way to find a faculty sponsor is by visiting your department’s website, where faculty list their research interests and their current projects. You may also want to ask professors you have had for class.
Email the professors with whom you’d like to work. Address them by their honorifics (usually Dr. —-). Introduce yourself (your full name, your major, and your year), politely explain why you are interested in their research, and ask to set up a time to meet at their discretion. Create or update your resume and bring it with you to your meetings. If you are a first-year or sophomore who has never done research before, focus on showing your genuine interest in the research topic.
If applicable, make sure to tell the professors about your funding or what funding you are applying for. The interview is a good opportunity to figure out if you’ll work well together.