A new study in BioScience says that undergraduate research contributes to success in careers in the sciences, technology, engineering and math. Researchers compared the scientific career outcomes of 88 accepted participants in five National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates site programs with demographically similar applicants to those programs who were not selected. They found that research program participants were 48 percent more likely to pursue a Ph.D. in STEM, and likely to generate significantly more science products, such as presentations, publications and awards, than the other applicants.
The paper says that key components of the research program include funding for personal and professional needs, access to diverse field resources and the presence of other undergraduate researchers. Lead author Alan Wilson, an associate professor of fisheries, aquaculture and aquatic sciences at Auburn University, said in a statement that the study stands out because it takes a quantitative approach to assessing the impact of undergraduate research programs. Prior research on the topic “has taken a subjective approach, with participants responding through surveys or evaluations about what they got out of the experience,” he said.