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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.

Professor interacting with students in classroom.

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.

Examples of research completed by students in partnership with faculty includes:

  • 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)

“One of the major benefits of attending a school like McDaniel is that undergraduates are almost guaranteed an experience like this. [My student's] summer research project allowed them to design a molecule that will validate an anti-cancer drug discovery target. They were also able to work with a collaborator, gain proficiency in a laboratory setting, design their own experiments, contribute to peer-reviewed publications and present their research in a formal setting. I’m pretty sure they're infected with the research bug.”

Dr. Dana Ferraris, Department Chair, Chemistry

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 Collaborative Summer Research Program

Each summer, students interested in undergraduate research are selected to participate in the Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research Program. This 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. 

View the 2020 Summer Research Videos

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

The Annual Student-Faculty Research Showcase

Each fall, students present their research posters at our annual Student-Faculty Research Showcase, which is held over Family Weekend. This opportunity to explain complex research to community members, 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.

Research poster presentation.
McDaniel Biology professors and students at the SICB conference in New Orleans

Students present research at biology conference in New Orleans

Three of professor Katie Staab’s Biology students recently presented their student-faculty collaborative research findings to the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology’s (SICB) annual conference in New Orleans.

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. 

A Commitment to Student Research Advancing Knowledge

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

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6 biology labs

are overseen by biology faculty on campus.

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10 weeks

is the length of our Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research program. 

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4 chemistry labs

are led by chemistry faculty on campus.

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62 students

participated in last summer's Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research Program.

Recent News for 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.

  • McDaniel recognizes faculty for teaching, scholarship, research, and service

    McDaniel faculty were recognized throughout the last week of classes for the 2020-2021 academic year by Provost Julia Jasken during a Faculty Appreciation Week, coinciding with National Teacher Appreciation Week (May 3-7).

  • Honors students present research at virtual Maryland Collegiate Honors Conference

    Four students represented McDaniel College at the Maryland Collegiate Honors Conference, “In Honors, Black Lives Matter,” held virtually on Feb. 26-27. McDaniel College Honors students Dalanda Diallo, Signe’ Kula, Maxwell Pardoe, and Raquel Sobczak were excited to have the opportunity to present at the conference and enjoyed hearing and learning of the stories and research from other presenters.