Summer Research

Summer research helps you…

  • Try out research full time, beyond your lab classes: how much do you enjoy it? Could graduate school and a career in research be a good fit for you?
  • Learn about methods and topics that are not available for study here at Grinnell: you can develop skills that aren’t used here, or work in an area of specialty outside that of our Grinnell faculty.
  • Experience a large lab, working with graduate students, post-docs, and other undergraduates under a lead researcher (or PI: principal investigator). This is like “grad school camp,” and can help you decide on a post-grad path.
  • Prepare for graduate school: PhD programs and medical school both look for significant research experience in competitive applicants.

Key components of a successful research application

In your application, you will need to thoughtfully explore answers to the following:

  1. What will you contribute to this project?
    • What relevant experience and interests do you have? What skills have you developed? How will you be a valuable lab member? Projects vary in what they expect of applicants: many do not expect much, if any, prior research experience.
  2. How will you benefit from this project?
    • What gap will this project fill for you? What skills and knowledge do you hope to gain during this summer experience that will fill that gap, and why? How will this experience expand your network? How does filling the gap help you get from where you are now to your post-graduate goal? Be specific!
  • Your liberal arts education is a strength! Highlight your disciplinary breadth, your critical thinking skills, and your ability to examine issues through multiple lenses.
  • In your application, use concrete details and specific examples. When describing research experience, talk about your role and the skills you used. When discussing your interests, explain why you are drawn to the topic.
  • Follow directions very precisely: If there is a specific prompt, answer every part of the question. If there are formatting instructions, follow them exactly. If no length is given for your statement, about 500 words is reasonable.

Finding opportunities


CLS summer research presentation slides