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Undergraduate Research

At McDaniel College, undergraduate research is driven by student learning, a focus that means you'll get meaningful opportunities to contribute to your field early in your academic career. To help develop your skills, our faculty design cutting-edge research projects that are meaningful to the academic community while immersing students in challenging, genuine investigations. 


Undergraduate research occurs in all majors and with the oversight of full-time faculty. You'll emerge from your research experience empowered and with professional and academic skills designed to help you stand out in applications for jobs or graduate school.

Student Faculty Research

A Commitment to Student Research Advancing Knowledge

McDaniel's undergraduate experience hums with research opportunities that contribute to students’ success in landing jobs, internships, REU's, and acceptances to graduate and medical schools.


Biology Labs

overseen by Biology faculty on campus.

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Weeks Each Summer

length of Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research program. 

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Chemistry Labs

led by Chemistry faculty on campus.

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Students Participate

in the Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research Program.

Our Research Philosophy

We understand that one of the best ways you can learn is by actively engaging in your academic curriculum through hands-on experiences. It's why experiential learning is at the heart of the McDaniel Commitment. It's also why our undergraduate research program centers around helping you apply what you've learned in a new context: One where you're advancing the knowledge of your discipline with a faculty member right there alongside you.

Recent examples of research completed by students in partnership with faculty include:

  • Identifying High Value and At-Risk Habitat in the Lokop Megafauna Sanctuary, Sumatra (Environmental Studies)
  • Program and Control: Black Mirror’s “Bandersnatch,” Coercive Communication, and Utilizing Disbelief (English)
  • The effect of a household surfactant on the synthesis of silver nanoparticles (Chemistry)
  • Who is Pappas? (Art)
  • Waring’s problem in Quaternion rings (Math & Computer Science)
  • Digital History: Water, Foods, and Ecology around Hangzhou Bay, 1600s-1870s (History)
  • Preferences of the invasive spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) among potential host plants (Biology)
  • Prospective Memory and Collaborative Research Project Collection (Psychology)
  • Design, Synthesis and Evaluation of LpxC Inhibitors as Antibiotics Against Gram-Negative Bacteria (Chemistry)

Present Your Research at a Conference!

McDaniel faculty support students in identifying and attending conferences. Students conducting research in various subject areas have recently presented their projects at these regional and national conferences:

  • Maryland Collegiate Honors Conference
  • Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference
  • American Chemical Society Conference
    McDaniel students and faculty pose for a group photo in front of an ACS conference sign

    Chemistry faculty and students at the Spring 2024 American Chemical Society Conference

  • Intercollegiate Student Chemist’s Convention
  • Maryland Water Monitoring Council’s Annual Conference
  • Association for Applied Sport Psychology Conference
  • Entomological Society of America, the Entomological Society of Canada, and the Entomological Society of British Columbia Joint Annual Meeting
  • Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists
  • Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival
  • Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences Conference
  • ResearchEd Conference
  • Lycoming Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference
  • MIT IEEE Undergraduate Research Technology Conference
  • MathFest (Mathematical Association of America)

Special Opportunities

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Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research Program

Each summer, students interested in undergraduate research are selected to participate in the Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research Program. This 8-10 week research experiences places students in small research teams and supports them in conducting intensive research projects. Notably, students receive free housing and meals as well as a $1000 stipend over the duration of the program to ensure that personal economics don't prevent accepted students from participation. 

Photo of a Black student in front of a projector screen speaking to a classroom of people.

Annual Academic Symposium

Each spring, students are invited to present their research, showcase their creative works, or share their internship experiences at our annual Academic Symposium. This opportunity to present their work to the community, including family members and friends, helps prepare students to discuss their work with future employers and graduate school admission committees. It hones their ability to present and engage with the general public, communication skills that are necessary for the future.

Our Facilities No Need to Compromise: Research Labs & Facilities Opportunities for You

Professor holding pigeon in the pigeon lab speaking with students.

On Campus Animal Lab McDaniel College Pigeon Lab Research & Training

Many students worry that by attending a small college, they won't have access to cutting-edge labs or animal research studies that are hallmarks of large research universities. At McDaniel, you'll have the chance to engage in high-level animal research, including on-campus at our pigeon lab, where choice and decision-making are researched through a study of pigeon behavior.

Professor with students in research lab.

Bringing Class to Life Hands-On Science Labs Distinguish Yourself

The research labs in our science programs provide you an opportunity to use cutting-edge equipment while you hone your curiosity and develop your academic independence through research. In addition to forming close bonds with the faculty overseeing the research, you will also develop strong relationships with your fellow students as part of a dedicated research team.

Student Faculty Research

Students make a difference through McDaniel’s Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research Program

McDaniel College students strive to make a difference in the world through the Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research Program. Students are learning how to solve real-world problems, whether it’s restoring local wetlands that are under threat worldwide or joining in research efforts to discover drugs to treat COVID-19 following the global pandemic. The Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research experience is an eight-week program for undergraduate students at McDaniel to pursue research, which is supported by donors.

Header from the Westminster Detective Library website

Not Just for the Sciences The Westminster Detective Library Research in the Humanities

It's a common misconception that research occurs only in the science programs, but high-level faculty and student research happens in every discipline at McDaniel. Just one example is the work that occurs at the Westminster Detective Library. The Westminster Detective Library seeks to catalog and make available online all the short fiction dealing with detectives and detection published in the United States before Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Scandal in Bohemia” (1891). Each year, students work closely with English faculty on the project that contributes to the canon of detective fiction.

The Capstone Experience

A capstone experience is a requirement of all McDaniel students. Typically defined as "a culminating experience in which students are expected to integrate special studies with the major, and extend, critique, and apply knowledge gained in their major" (Wagenaar, 1993), your capstone showcases your knowledge and your critical thinking. Adding an element of cohesion to your four years of study, capstone experiences vary by major and demonstrate your mastery of your discipline. Capstones might include an original screenplay in Cinema, a gallery show in Art, or a field placement in Social Work.

Research Examples Biology Senior Capstone Symposium

View the 2020 Department of Biology Senior Capstone Symposium Presentation
Two students in a lab look at a computer screen at a microscope image.

A legacy of research A Decade of Collaboration, Transformation, and Growth The Huang lab celebrates 10 years of Biology research

When Cheng Huang joined the McDaniel faculty in 2012, the associate professor of Biology launched his research lab with a goal of creating transformational opportunities for undergraduate students. Since then, ambitious Biology students have honed their skills with summertime experiments in the Huang lab. In June 2022, alumni returned to share their insights with current student researchers on how Huang’s lab and classes prepared them for Ph.D. and medical school programs.

Kinesiology’s new labs and classrooms open in Gill Center

The newly renovated Gill Center bustles with activity. After all, this is the epicenter of McDaniel’s study of movement — the place Kinesiology students and faculty alike call home. Three classrooms, three labs, nine faculty offices and a seminar room were newly built inside Gill Center to support a program that prepares students for careers as health professionals, coaches, athletic trainers, physical education teachers, personal trainers and others whose work centers on the science of physical activity and movement.

Everything you learn at McDaniel College connects you to real life. Kinesiology student Isabella researched the effects of strength training on self-esteem in untrained females. 

Recent News for Research

  • Associate professor of Art earns top undergraduate teaching award

    Associate Professor of Art Chloe Watson Irla ’07 has earned the Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award for her dedication to teaching and scholarship, awarded at McDaniel’s 154th Commencement ceremony.
  • McDaniel students present Chemistry research at two major conferences

    This spring, McDaniel students had the opportunity to present and be recognized for their original student-faculty at the American Chemical Society Conference and the Intercollegiate Student Chemists Convention, which host researchers from across the U.S.
  • McDaniel's annual Academic Symposium showcases the liberal arts in action

    McDaniel's Academic Symposium on Monday, April 29, includes a robust program of innovative and inspiring presentations. Throughout the day, McDaniel students, faculty, and staff showcase their original research, scholarship, and creative achievements. Plus, a keynote lunch features Assistant Professor of Biology Allison Kerwin who received a three-year National Science Foundation grant (advance registration is required).