Get Involved in Undergraduate Research in SESE
Opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research are available to all majors in the School of Earth and Space Exploration.
Not only is research a great way to enrich your education and enhance your resume – beneficial both in a job search and in applications to graduate school – but it's fun and rewarding! By working with mentors who are experts in their fields, you'll establish relationships and professional connections that may last a lifetime.
Research can be done for credit, or for pay, but not both. Paid research positions may be supported by individual faculty member’s research projects or by the NASA Space Grant, which supports undergraduate research across all SESE majors – it is not restricted to the Space Sciences.
Finding Research Opportunities
Here is an updated list of some current research opportunities advertised by faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students.
Given the rapidly evolving nature of active research programs, not all opportunities are represented in the formal list of research positions compiled on the webpage linked above. If you don't see a research opportunity that matches your interests, look for a research mentor that may have additional opportunities - which may be supported by their research grants, by the NASA Space Grant, or completed for credit - and explore the Research Programs For SESE Students below.
To find research opportunities with individual faculty mentors, explore SESE’s Research Focus Areas for faculty that work in your area of interest. When you have identified some potential faculty mentors, go to their websites or Google scholar to learn about their research focus and current projects. When you find a good match, if you know the professor or have had a class with them, try to catch them in person for a quick conversation about the potential for conducting research with them. If you havent yet met them, or havent been able to track them down in person, write your potential mentors a formal email to introduce yourself, and inquire about their interest in taking an undergraduate student (you!) onto their research team. Here is an example email template.
It’s optional, but you might consider attaching your resume, and/or your unofficial transcripts to help the professor learn more about you. If you don’t hear from the professor within a week or two, it’s not necessarily a sign that the professor is not interested — they are busy and sometimes haven’t had a chance to respond. You might consider following up with a second email to give the professor an opportunity to email you back.
Graduate students in your area of interest can also be a great resource to get started in research and to find research opportunities. Very often graduate students need assistants to help in their research or to tackle related research questions just outside the scope of their work. Approach graduate Teaching Assistants in your courses and other graduate students you know or that you might meet at SESE social events. Don’t hesitate to ask - you might just make their day!
Explore Research Programs for SESE Students
NASA Space Grant Program
SESE's NASA Space Grant supports graduate and undergraduate students in a variety of disciplines to further their educational experiences in science, engineering research, and informal education programs.
The ASU/NASA Space Grant Program awards approximately 20-30 undergraduate students from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields for the academic year. Awardees are paid stipends with a value of $1,600 per semester. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and full-time students at ASU, sophomore or higher. Undergraduate Fellows work on a research project alongside upper-level graduate students, diverse faculty members, as well as scientists and engineers. Space Grant supports undergraduates by giving them opportunities to earn money while gaining valuable experience participating in research projects and educational outreach activities. Applications from women and underrepresented groups are also encouraged.
In addition their project, Space Grant undergraduate awardees are required to:
Complete 20 hours of (unpaid) Informal Education
Participate in the annual ASU/NASA Space Grant poster session
Present at the Arizona Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Research Symposium
Undergraduate Fellowship applications are available each spring for the following academic year with a mid-May due date. Students are highly encouraged to have a faculty mentor selected prior to submitting an application. For those students without a faculty mentor, we have suggestions about how to find one on our Space Grant site.
If you would like to be notified when the next round of applications opens, click this button:
LEAP Scholars Program
The LEAP Scholars Program provides transfer students the opportunity to conduct research with scientists at ASU. As a transfer student enrolled in the LEAP Scholars Program, you will learn how to maximize your scientific research experience. The LEAP Scholars Program is a four-semester-long program for incoming, community college transfer students majoring in ASU’s School of Life Sciences; School of Molecular Sciences; School of Earth and Space Exploration; or the Department of Physics. LEAP scholars will learn about undergraduate research, conduct research in an ASU faculty member’s lab, mentor incoming LEAP scholars, and present research to the scientific community. By participating in the program, LEAP scholars receive a $3,000 scholarship per semester for a maximum of four semesters, which is intended to alleviate the need to work while going to school so that you can focus on your research. For more information about the program or applying please visit:
Or contact Emma Goodwin (firstname.lastname@example.org), LEAP Scholars Program Manager.
Online Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (OURS)
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and EdPlus have developed the Online Undergraduate Research Scholars (OURS) program to address the pressing challenge of offering quality research opportunities to ASU Online students at scale.
The OURS program offers research experiences (either paid or for class credit) across a wide range of disciplines including natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. For more information about the program and available research opportunities for online students, please visit us:
Summer Research Programs and Internships
Summer Research Programs and Internships
Most paid programs offer both a stipend and housing and travel support. Programs range across all STEM disciplines and all areas of the country. 600+ programs for undergraduate students through Pathways to Science.
UROCKS (Undergraduate Research Opportunities in Cave and Karst Science)
James Madison University
UROCKS is the first and only REU dedicated to study different aspects of cave and karst research in the US. We are currently looking for 10 undergraduates for the duration of the program (May 22nd to July 28th, 2023). Successful applicants will be provided with the following:
- $600/week stipend + $100/week for food allowance
- Transportation (airfare or mileage)
- Housing (10 weeks)
- Professional development sessions
- Social events
- Field and lab experience
UROCKS is open to everyone who is enrolled as an undergraduate at a two or four-year US-based institution. Per NSF regulations, applicants must be U.S. citizens, naturalized citizens, or permanent residents of the United States. Applicants must be rising sophomore, junior, or senior undergraduate students at the start of the REU. Applicants must be willing to commit for the entire 10-week residential summer program. Students from underrepresented groups and first generation college students are highly encouraged to apply.
To learn more and apply, please visit https://www.jmu.edu/geology/urocks/index.shtml
Application deadline is January 31, 2023. Send inquiries to Dr. Ángel A Garcia Jr: email@example.com (an ASU SESE alumnus!)
Undergraduate Research Internships in Seismology (URISE) - Summer 2023
URISE interns spend 8 to 10 weeks applying their math, physics, and geoscience knowledge to explore Earth processes and its interior. Research projects may involve the deployment of seismic instruments in the field (within the US or internationally), and/or analyses of seismic data in a lab setting with the ultimate goal of producing results to be presented at a national scientific meeting. Interns receive a weekly stipend, support for travel and housing, and full funding to attend the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. See intern projects from 2022 to gain a sense of the possibilities.
We are excited to receive applications from students representing the full spectrum of society, as well as students with lived experiences such as students with disabilities, veterans, and non-traditional students!
To learn more and apply, please visit the Undergraduate Research Internships in Seismology website.
The deadline for students is February 1 and the deadline for mentors is February 15.
Receiving Course Credit for Unpaid Research and Senior/Honors Theses
There are several different options for research classes depending upon whether the research is leading to a Senior or Barrett Thesis.
Independent Research Credit
SES 499: Individualized Instruction
Spring or Fall semesters (1, 2 or 3 credits permitted, to be approved by the faculty research mentor):
- 1 credit = minimum of 45 hours research effort for the semester
- 2 credits = minimum of 90 hours research effort for the semester
- 3 credits = minimum of 135 hours research effort for the semester
Students may sign up for a research class in multiple semesters.
Individualized Instruction Contract
Obtain permission to pursue a defined research project with a faculty research mentor and then click the button above and follow the instructions on the form to request to earn course credit for undergraduate research with a School of Earth and Space faculty member.
Completed forms should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SESE Senior/Barrett Thesis (6 units research credit)
Detailed information about the options, requirements and process for applying to complete a Senior/Barrett Thesis in SESE is located under Senior/Barrett Thesis Information and Application here: