Undergraduate researchers engage in intellectual pursuits alongside faculty in their field of interest. As an undergraduate researcher, you can:
Undergraduate research is not for everyone. Research professors need students that are committed to their projects and are willing to work hard to get results. It is rewarding work but you should expect to commit a significant amount of your leisure time to your project. There are several things you should think about: (1) are you really interested in research or do you want to do it so you can add it to your resume? (2) are you willing to give up some of your leisure/social time to be able to work in a research project?, and (3) do you want to work in a lab or would you rather carry out your research in the library?
You can be accepted into an M.D. program without research experience. Medical schools require shadowing and volunteering but they do not require research. However, if you are truly interested in research the experience can improve your application.
Students that want to apply to an M.D./Ph.D. program are judged differently by the admissions board. These students must have significant research experience.
Students that intend to apply to graduate programs must have research experience. This is particularly true for science graduate programs.
Without a good GPA (> 3.0) it will be difficult to get into a good graduate program. Research can help in some instances, but the student would do better spending time improving their grades and their GPA. Acceptance into graduate programs are evaluated case by case but, in general, programs tend to prefer students with a strong academic background.
This is up to you. As Director of the Science Research Fellows, I recommend to use your first semester to get acclimated to Baylor, learn all our Baylor traditions, go to the football games (tailgates are great) and make new friends. You can use this time to look up some of the research labs you are interested in joining. Visit their department website and look up the research professors within that department.
Keep in mind that to join some labs you will need to finish specific classes first. For example, a biochemistry lab may prefer students that have taken the first semester of biochemistry so that would put students in their second or thrid year. The same thing is true for an organic chemistry research lab - the experience will be better if you know and understand organic chemistry. Some labs do not have requirements and are happy to take freshmen. Make sure you ask the professor which classes they requires of their undergraduate students.
No. Working in a lab is only one way to get research experience, but not the only way. We have many wonderful professors in arts, religion, history, philosophy, journalism, and many other departments that need undergraduate students to do their research. Go ahead and check their websites and talk to them. They are more willing to give you a bit more freedom choosing your preferred topic (as long as it falls within their research interests).
Email is often the best method to contact potential faculty mentors. Your email should contain the following information: