Undergraduate student presenting her research project

Undergraduate Student Research

At the University of Southern Maine (USM), we extend beyond classroom concepts to real-world research and hands-on experience. Here, you’ll find a supportive learning environment where welcoming faculty encourage you to propose your own ideas, join them in the lab or the field, and collaborate on solutions.

What does research look like for undergrads?

  • Collaborating with supportive faculty through research projects — with generous funding available for your ideas.
  • Innovating, alongside fellow students, in an open concept experiential learning lab.
  • Connecting with the local business and non-profit communities and exploring internship opportunities.
  • Utilizing state-of-the-art labs and technology.
  • Networking with professionals by co-presenting at conferences and co-authoring articles in national peer-reviewed journals.
  • Exploring scholarship and creative activity — like developing a large-concept public art installation to illustrate the impending rise in sea level.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

We don’t just encourage your big ideas – we fund them. More than 30 undergraduate students receive fellowships each year to pursue collaborative research projects alongside a professor.

How does it work? As you delve into areas of study that fascinate you, our faculty are available to provide mentorship. When inspiration hits, you can pitch your idea. After submitting a formal proposal, successful applicants receive nearly $4,000 to use for research, supplies, and travel.

When it comes to the focus of your project, there is no limit. We award fellowships to students studying everything from sociology and English to cybersecurity and chemistry.

Learn more about UROP.

Maine Space Grant Consortium

As an affiliate of the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA), the Maine Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) supports and funds undergraduate student research projects related to areas such as aerospace, technology, and software development. These are broad areas — your project can integrate the STEM fields, as well as the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Reach out to Maine Space Grant Consortium contact: Terry Shehata at

Maker Innovation Studio: Where big ideas thrive

Have you tried 3D printing yet? How about virtual reality with a HoloLens? Designed your own video game?

Visit the University’s Maker Innovation Studio, an open concept experiential learning environment where students turn ideas into action, and action into things.

In this space, we bring an entrepreneurial mindset to everything we do — because each project involves community partnerships and developing a product that solves a problem. So our students connect with each other — and the local non-profit and business community.

Learn more about the Maker Innovation Studio (MIST Lab).

The QC2 Lab: The chemistry of brewing

In recent years the craft brewing industry has surged in Maine and throughout the US. The brewing process is an exact science, and brewers across the country depend on our QC2 Lab to test the qualities of their product.

In the Quality Control Collaboratory — QC2 for short — students work alongside Professor of Chemistry Luci Benedict to test beer samples for calories, bitterness (IBU), color, alcohol, protein, and pH, among other attributes.

Learn more about the QC2 Lab.

Showing off your hard work

Each academic year culminates with Thinking Matters, a day-long symposium of student and faculty research, scholarship, and creative activity. You can develop a formal poster presentation or oral presentation, and connect with the local non-profit and business community, other students, and faculty.

Watch a video.

The creative and cultural side of research

At USM, research means more than hard science in a lab — we incorporate scholarship and creative activity, including projects in the arts and humanities, tourism and hospitality, and women and gender studies, to name just a few.

Just a few examples of our student-faculty collaborations:

  • Developing large-scale community art installations to exemplify Professor of Art Jan Piribeck’s research on the rising sea level.
  • Curating exhibitions in the Special Collections of Glickman Library alongside History Professor Libby Bischof.
  • Exploring what a composer intended for the expressions in a march with Conductor Dr. Jackie Townsend in the School of Music Concert Band.
  • Embarking on a cruise to Bermuda for an inside look at the tourism and hospitality industry with Professor Tracy Michaud.
  • Creating an interactive map of Portland that showcases women's history.