Tufts is one of the nation’s top research universities, earning the "tier 1" classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the university's output of research activity. And as one of the smallest and most undergraduate-focused research universities with this classification, Tufts encourages faculty to collaborate with undergraduate students in a wide range of innovative research, spanning every field and discipline.
Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Symposium
The annual Research and Scholarship Symposium is one of the best ways to experience the range and depth of Tufts undergraduate research. At the symposium, students share their research with each other and the Tufts community.
Funding for Undergraduate Research
Nearly every faculty member at Tufts seeks undergraduate students to support them in their laboratory or scholarly research. Visit the departmental websites for more information on department-specific research groups. For students interested in independent research, the Undergraduate Research Fund, the Summer Scholars Program, the International Research Program, and the Anne Borghesani Memorial Prize all provide substantial funding.
The Summer Scholars program funds rising juniors and seniors to pursue ten-week independent research projects. Scholars spend this summer working closely with a faculty mentor and a cohort of like-minded peers from across Tufts' academic disciplines. Recent projects include: "Moving Towards Power: Examining How Settler Colonial Constructions of Gender Impact the Trans-Masculine Experience" (Max Battle), "Learning Computer Programming in Early Childhood: The Impact of Speaking a Second Language" (Catherine Cowell), and "Assessing the origins of amygdala function in PTSD" (Ethan Whitman).
Research Takes Many Forms
Harrison Clark '22
Majors: International Relations and Arabic
"Working in the Tufts Digital Collections and Archives is one of the most rewarding academic experiences imaginable. The files and collections are like puzzle pieces that, when combined, hold the answers to why campus is the way it is today. Research has gotten much less intimidating for me since I dropped the mindset that I'm not doing research to find 'the answer,' but to find the next question."
Indigo Naar '21
Major: Combined Degree in Studio Art and Philosophy
"I started doing research in my sophomore year, and when I say research, I really mean I started spending a lot of time in the SMFA library just picking up books about artists or artwork that inspired me. My sketchbooks have become my primary research tool. My notes in them aren't organized in the slightest, but they're ongoing records of what art and artists I was looking at and what I was thinking about at specific periods of my life. When I'm stuck in my art practice and I don't really know what I want to make next, the first thing I do is go back through my sketchbooks and think about everything I've been interested in before. I often see ideas in a new light when I revisit them, and in that sense my research has been been about finding information—my research is a process of expanding my world and finding new ways of exploring old ideas."
Becky Lee '23
Major: Human Factors Engineering
"There are so many opportunities to do research at Tufts. Tufts is a tier 1 research university AND we’re middle-sized, so professors need undergrads to fill their labs. As long as you take initiative to participate—because opportunities aren't going to be handed to you—you can definitely get involved. You can talk to professors after taking their class, you can email them after reading their work online, you can connect with upperclassmen and ask if there are lab openings, etc. A misconception I had before Tufts is that research needs to be a big impressive project with a professor. But every student at Tufts does research in their classes and professors are really great about bringing in resources to support us. For example, in my freshman year, I took the intro to engineering course titled Intro to Computational Design. The final project was to write a MATLAB program that would make soft caterpillar robots crawl. It was inspired by a Tufts professor, Barry Trimmer, who runs a one-of-a-kind lab that focuses on the biomechanics of soft-bodied insects. Professor Trimmer came to the class with live specimens—half of us ran out in terror—and we used his data for our projects. There was a caterpillar race at the end of the semester, which was entertaining to watch. I’m not sure what my partner and I did differently, but instead of crawling, our caterpillar jumped."