How can I get funding for my research?

What financial support is available for undergraduate researchers working in on-campus labs?

Most undergraduates entering their first semester (or summer) of research should not anticipate being paid by their lab immediately. Typically, graduate students and advisors will have to invest a lot of time through trainings, meetings, and mentorship to get a first-time researcher up to speed with how a lab functions. Notably, while direct funding is unlikely during this time period, undergraduates can enroll in research "courses" to obtain class credit for time spent working in labs. Once a researcher has spent 1-2 semesters with a lab (or thinking about conducting research full time over the summer), we recommend having a conversation with a mentor (or even the PI) about getting a paid position. While there is no guarantee of financial compensation, and most situations are determined on a case-by-case basis, it is always important to advocate for adequate compensation for labor.

While not all undergraduate researchers are guaranteed financial compensation directly from a lab, there are a number of opportunities to acquire funding through University sponsored programs and grants. A comprehensive list of such opportunities is available through the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarships (OURS) here. Below is an annotated list of some of the most popular programs:

  • Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships - SURF. Undergraduates in the College of Chemistry may be eligible for summer research funding through the Rose Hill Experience if they have a permanent residence in Southern California, or the Student Mentoring and Research Teams (SMART) program if they already have a graduate student mentor.

  • The Haas Scholars Program. This program is advertised as "a senior Capstone experience for all majors." Haas Scholars can receive up to $13,800 in funding to support research conducted during the Fall, Spring, and summer terms. Eligible students must be rising Seniors who are eligible to receive need-based financial aid, and must have a GPA of 3.5 or above.

  • Amgen Scholars Program. Amgen Scholars will be funded for a summer to work in a UCB lab. Funding includes housing, travel, food, and a $4,200 stipend. Researchers will also have the opportunity to present research at a national conference.

  • NSF Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU): Integrating Biology from Molecules to Ecosystems. The NSF REU supports an undergraduate researcher interested in conducting biology related research in a UCB-affiliated lab over a summer. Applicants should be U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are interested in pursuing a research-focused graduate degree.

If you want to apply to the above programs, we recommend planning well in advance. Application deadlines are often well before the start date of the research and programs often require you to write some material such as a project proposal. Many programs also offer information sessions during the school year, so keep an eye out for those to learn more about a specific program you're interested in.