Student Research Opportunities

Maiah Bartlett, Dr. Stephen Hanna and Sarah Rogers conduct fieldwork at a plantation, 2016.

Maiah Bartlett, Dr. Stephen Hanna and Sarah Rogers conduct fieldwork at a plantation, 2016.


Conducting research is an excellent way to follow your interests and passions, to DO geography. Students can get financial support for their research projects by applying for University and Department grants. Research may begin in different ways:

  • Students do their own research on class papers, projects and case studies
  • Research might be done in a team or group setting within a class
  • A student might ask a professor if he/she can do a research project to continue some class work, to earn Experiential Learning credit, or to explore an idea for an Honors Thesis in Geography… You can ASK any professor if they will work on a project idea that you have!
    • Choose a professor who has expertise in the subject area of the project
    • Give the professor plenty of notice: make an appointment during the semester BEFORE you want to do the work, explain your interest, consider what help you will need, your timeline, your final product…
    • It is likely to be easier if you already know the professor and the professor knows you
  • A professor might approach a student to join their research team – this is the case when the professor has ongoing research that requires several people and at least one semester
    • The professor might already know you, or you might be recommended by a different professor
    • You can ask as professor if she/he has a research project you could join
    • Keep an eye on the Geography Noticeboard outside Monroe 319, or follow GeographyUMW on Facebook or Twitter
    • Look for URES 197 courses: Undergraduate Research in Geography or some other discipline are used for getting students involved in research
  • Occasionally, a professor might have a project that might require just one student
    • During your advising appointments, or while talking to any professor, you can state that you would be interested in or open to research opportunities

Then What?

  • Most students conduct research for academic credit: GEOG 491 or URES 197
    • You sign up for this on a green piece of paper from the Registrar’s Office
    • You sign up right near the beginning of the semester in which you take the credit
    • GEOG 491 does count toward the geography major if taken for 3 or more credits
    • URES 197 does not count toward the geography major
  • A research project might turn into an Honors Thesis if the student meets requirements to earn Honors in Geography
  • Occasionally, a student might be paid instead of, or in addition to earning credit
  • Some research requires specialized equipment, data or travel: you can apply for funding
  • The research may result in you attending an academic conference to present a poster or paper: you can apply for funding to achieve this too
  • Occasionally, a professor might work on a publication with students, or will encourage a student to write up his or her own research for publication

Funding sources

  • Undergraduate Research Grants (URES) are available from the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • The Rountree Endowment for Geography has funds available for geographers – ask your Geography professor!
  • Students in the UMW Honors Program are able to apply for funding from that program