Undergraduate Research

Conduct meaningful research with faculty

The experiential learning that begins in your first semester and continues through hands-on design challenges culminates in authentic research experiences with faculty in their laboratories. You’ll learn more about science and design than you ever thought possible—even if what you learn is that laboratory life isn’t for you.

Chemistry graduate students Jeovanna Rios and Jennifer Hennigan discuss an experiment in Mike Lynch's biomedical engineering lab in the Chesterfield Building. The Chesterfield Building, a cigarette-factory-turned-research-hub, is home to collaboration-friendly lab, office and conference spaces for parts of Duke University School of Medicine and the Pratt School of Engineering. Duke leases about 100,000 square feet of space in the downtown building. The lab is focused on genetically engineering microbes to shut off their growth circuits and turn on new pathways to produce different compounds—improving production of biofuels, pharmacological molecules and industrial chemicals.

By the Numbers

1,314

undergraduate students

58%

have intensive research experiences with faculty

21%

publish or present a research paper off-campus

50%

work on independent study projects

Elizabeth Griffin

Being a Grand Challenge Scholar opened my eyes to broader systemic injustices, especially racial and socioeconomic injustices—not just in the United States but worldwide. I want to work to address those inequities.

Elizabeth Griffin Class of 2019 Katsouleas Grand Challenges Scholar | Read story »
Leonard White, associate professor in neurology, teaches Functional Anatomy of the Human Brain course for undergraduates in the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences cube inside the Levine Science Research Center.
Leonard White, associate professor in neurology, teaches Functional Anatomy of the Human Brain course for undergraduates in the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences cube inside the Levine Science Research Center.

Find a Research Experience with Muser

Duke’s online student research network is the place to start. Our faculty research labs list opportunities for undergraduates within the Muser system. Typically, there are three rounds of recruiting every calendar year. Research experiences usually last one semester.

Search Muser
Lasers, Lenses, and Lights Outreach event 2023.

Independent Study for Credit

This is your opportunity to work under faculty supervision on a research topic that you choose while earning course credit. Typically, first- and second-year students enroll in an independent study course as a free elective. Third- and fourth-year students enroll in an advanced elective in their major.

The first step is to request an independent study. The deadline is two days before Drop/Add Ends.

A special note to our Trinity College peers: You can participate in these experiences, too!

Submit a request
Lasers, Lenses, Lights event.

Pratt Research Fellowships

The Pratt Research Fellows Program provides opportunities for immersive research over three semesters. Third-year and advanced second-year students are encouraged to apply. Typically, Pratt Fellows graduate with distinction and with many other honors.

Program details and application
Solar panels - energy - grand challenge scholars.

Katsouleas NAE Grand Challenges Scholars

The Thomas C. Katsouleas National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges Scholars Program seeks leaders with the drive to take on some of the biggest challenges facing humanity—and want to start while they are still undergraduates.

Program details and application
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Conference Grants

Experiential learning doesn’t end in the lab. It continues to authentic professional activity, including presenting your discoveries at academic and scientific conferences. As part of our holistic approach to student support, the Pratt School of Engineering provides grants of up to $500 to help students attend national or regional research conferences.

Apply for a grant

Undergraduate Research Contacts

Carmen Rawls, Ph.D. Profile Photo
Carmen Rawls, Ph.D. Profile Photo

Carmen Rawls, Ph.D.

Assistant Dean for Advising & Outreach

David E. Schaad Profile Photo
David E. Schaad Profile Photo

David E. Schaad

Professor of the Practice of Civil and Environmental Engineering

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