Feeling the URGe

NU wants to give you money for your research.

By Alyssa Wisnieski


Undergraduate research is not a foreign concept to a university like Northwestern. From the first day students arrive on campus, they receive countless emails, flyers and reminders about these nifty little things called Undergraduate Research Grants (URG). But with more types of grants than you can count on one hand, confusion is inevitable.

According to its website, Northwestern offers multiple different grants to help research-oriented students accomplish their goals. Two very popular options include Summer Research Grants and the Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP).

Summer Research Grants:

These grants provide $3,000 for “full-time eight week independent academic and creative work” relevant to your faculty-advised research project. The money can be used to cover both living and research expenses.

Weinberg sophomore Jo Machesky received her grant last year. She spent the summer on Northwestern’s campus and worked in the lab at the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology. She looked at the interaction of nanoparticles that could leak from batteries with her research group. As a chemistry major with Ph.D. aspirations, she valued the opportunity to start her independent research so early in her college career.

“It was fantastic. The URGs are available for every subject, which is helpful. The experience of figuring out what research is and if research is right for you is great.” – Jo Machesky

Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP):

Simply put, this grant pays students $10 an hour to work on a faculty member’s research project with them. This is a good way to ease into the URG scene on campus.

Communication senior Sarah “Sasa” Schwartz, who works in the Hearing and Language Lab, started there the summer after her freshman year and continued throughout her junior year as well. As part of the URAP, she teamed up with a faculty member to facilitate audiology studies with toddlers and adults.

“I would definitely recommend [the URAP] ... It’s a great bridge for figuring out how research really works and all the work that goes in behind the scenes. You get a lot of oversight from whoever is creating the project so you don’t have to do everything on your own.” – Sarah "Sasa" Schwartz