Undergraduate Research

General Information for Students and Faculty

Definition of Undergraduate Research: “Inquiries or investigations, conducted by undergraduate students, guided by faculty, that solve problems, make original intellectual contributions, or make creative contributions to a discipline or practice.“

Undergraduate Research typically involves the student examining a hypothesis, collecting data, and summarizing the results in a research paper.

Undergraduates in the sciences often participate in research projects, either as independent projects with a faculty mentor or working directly on faculty or graduate student research projects. Research experience puts the concepts learned in the classroom to use in a practical “real-world” setting.

Undergraduate Student Assistants (Student workers, volunteers etc.). Students may assist on-going research projects being conducted by faculty or graduate students, often including a wide range of laboratory, field, and computer-related activities. Students should investigate faculty websites to find areas of interest and contact individual faculty members about possible positions in the laboratory with them or their students.

Student Research Highlights 

Undergraduate Independent Research

The Environmental Science and Research concentration in Coastal Environmental Sciences requires at least two credit hours of research as part of the curriculum for the degree. Students are encouraged to enroll in undergraduate independent research within the Applied Coastal Environmental Science concentration, though it is not required. This research experience can be approached through two mechanisms:

  • Independent Study Research Hours (ENVS 3999 or OCS 3999). Students can receive up to six credit hours to perform their own research project working under the direct supervision of a faculty member. The student proposes plans and executes a research project. Usually a written report of the project is required upon completion. Contact a specific faculty member about the possibility of doing this type of research. See below for more information.
  • Honors Thesis Projects. CES majors in the LSU Honors College may complete their two-hour research requirement while completing their Honors College thesis. Students work under the supervision of a faculty member to complete a research project and must write and defend a thesis of their results. http://www.honors.lsu.edu/current-students/academics/curriculum/thesis

If you would like to fulfill two credit hours of research – as part of the curriculum for the degree or to gain research experience – by taking ENVS 3999 & OCS 3999 Undergraduate Research – please contact Dr. Kanchan Maiti at kmaiti@lsu.edu or 225-578-4531.

ENVS 3999 & OCS 3999 Undergraduate Research

ENVS 3999 & OCS 3999 are CES courses intended usually for advanced undergraduate JUNIOR (60 credit hrs., but fewer than 90 credit hrs.) or SENIOR (90 or more credit hrs.).

These courses can be taken for a maximum of 6 credit hrs. with a variable credit of 1 – 3 credit hrs. per semester.  However, only two credit hours will be counted for the CES degree.

To enroll in ENVS 3999 & OCS 3999, student must submit the following: 

  • Students first need to complete the “CES Undergraduate Independent Research – Contract and Risk Waiver forms
  • Second,   Independent Research Proposal on a separate sheet, containing the following, needs to be submitted together with the  “Undergraduate Independent Research Contract” form.

(The student and faculty sponsor together will outline the learning objectives of the independent research project. Faculty sponsor should review and approve prior to submission)

  • a. Independent research project description/location - What will you be doing? Proposed hypothesis and approach, Where?
  • b. Timeline – When will activities be done, report drafts, evaluation date, final copy, etc.?

Third, “basic on-line lab safety training” needs to be completed and printed confirmation of completion page needs to be included in the submission package

The complete package needs to be submitted to Dr. Kanchan Maiti, in room 1143 Energy, Coast, and Environment Bldg., ASAP before students can be allowed to register for the course. Upon completion of these forms, Dr. Maiti will notify the college and student will be able to go ahead and register for the course.

All Research Courses Require a Faculty Sponsor

How to arrange a faculty sponsor:

  • Familiarize yourself with the research in the college. You can learn about the research within the college by following the website http://uiswcmsweb.prod.lsu.edu/sce/sce/
  • Identify an area of research you are interested in, ideally an area supported by your completed coursework for the major.
  • Read up on the faculty in that area, i.e. their research focus, lab’s work and publications.
  • You can go to our college webpage and click on any of the department (Oceanography and Coastal Sciences and Environmental Sciences), and then click on “Faculty” to reach to their vitas. Faculties are much more likely to take on a student who has made an investment in learning about their work.
  • Attend office hours or make an appointment to meet with the faculty member. Be clear about your intentions and what you have to offer – it also doesn’t hurt to bring a copy of your transcript to show your completed coursework and grades.

Helpful Information while you are starting your research:

Communication plan

Discuss desired and appropriate usage (how often, how late is ok, expected time to respond for messages, etc.) of e-mail, phone, texting, office hours, etc. for general concerns or questions, when problems or issues arise, and for emergencies (e.g., who and how to contact when late or missing for an established meeting time (sick, etc.)).

Work Schedule

It should be understood that even with a set schedule, some weeks or projects may require more or less time and your hours may need to be adjusted to accommodate. Changes to a schedule should be discussed as early as possible.

For successful completion of your internship – duties can include:

  • Keep a legible journal of your activities and share the journal with your faculty sponsor
  •  Submit a research paper integrating your field activities with course work learning.

This literature review will help you demonstrate the connection between the theories in your previous courses and the practical aspects of your research experience.

  •  Complete any additional requirements specified by your faculty sponsor (e.g., annotated bibliography, oral presentation, etc.) and meet the learning objectives listed in the contract below.
  • Presentation of your work/results on campus or a national/international meeting is encouraged, but not required for course credit.
  • Publication of your work/results is encouraged, but not required for course credit.

All students are required to take the “basic on-line lab safety training” at  http://psaf-chem-safe.lsu.edu/Ehstrn/EHSTrainWebISAPI.dll (LSU- Environmental Health and Safety webpage) before they start working on their project.  If you have the potential to work with hazardous chemicals, you need to take the additional chemical safety training.  If you work with biological materials, you must take the basic biosafety training. Please consult with your faculty sponsor for these other options.