How to get Involved in Research and Science Outside of the Classroom


    HCEP (Health Center Explorations Program) is a two-semester volunteer/shadowing program that is run through the Career Center. This is a great way for students to get involved in science and medicine outside of the classroom and laboratory.

   The program is composed of two semesters (either component can be extended for a longer period of time). The first semester (40 hours) introduces students to Duke Hospital and the patient side of healthcare by volunteering. Students talk to patients, hear their stories while getting to know staff in the unit to which they are assigned. The second semester (40 hours) is shadowing a physician. Students shadow a physician at Duke Hospital and have the opportunity to learn a plethora of information as well as gaining experience interacting with physicians and patients.

    The volunteering semester must come before the shadowing semester. For more information, please contact Tori Young in Volunteer Services at Duke Hospital and Jennifer Philips ( )in

     the Career Center who runs    

     both programs. The forms for training

     sessions and sign-up information can be

     found on the Career Center site:


Research: How to find a lab, where to look, interviews, general information.

Volunteer Programs and How to get involved through HCEP in the career advising center

  Research is an exciting opportunity for students to get involved in at Duke.

Students at Duke can choose from a plethora of different laboratories. Between

the biological sciences building, the IGSP, and Duke Medical Center, there are

a ton of different kinds of research opportunities for students to work in a

lab as an RA or work study job and conduct an Independent Study.

   Students often get the most out of their research experience if they enjoy the

laboratory that they work in. So, be proactive, find a laboratory that is

conducting research that is of interest to YOU. There is no point working in a

laboratory, spending lots of time reading literature and conducting experiments

if you are not interested in the research and are not happy in your lab. That

being said, once you commit to a laboratory, you should try it out for at least

3 months. Once you figure out that it is not for you, it IS OKAY to switch


How to find a laboratory:

There are a multitude of ways to get involved in research at Duke. The Biology

department website offers a host of research laboratories that you can browse. In

addition, feel free to go to the IGSP website and the Duke Med Center website

and contact different laboratories to see if they are interested in having an

undergraduate conduct an Independent Study/ Work study etc. in their laboratory.

It is up to you, but it is strongly suggested that if the lab of interest is on campus (IGSP

or Bio Sci), it is okay to pop in and visit them to express interest working in

their laboratory. If you choose to go about this route, be prepared to sit for

an interview on the spot (in other words, don't do a run-by visit if you have a

class in 20 minutes, they will not appreciate that you will have to cut them

off). When you stop by, ask them if this would be a good time for them. If they

say yes, introduce yourself, have a copy of your resume prepared to hand them

and tell them why you are interested in their laboratory. Make sure you have

done your homework (have read at least 2 of their papers) and come prepared

with general questions about their work as well as questions pertaining to

protocols concerning students working in their labs (do they currently have

undergraduates working in their lab?). Lastly, DRESS APPROPRIATELY. Abstain

from jeans, sneakers, and skimpy tops.

If you choose to contact a lab via e-mail, send them an e-mail expressing your

interest in their laboratory and how you found out about it. Then express

interest in setting up a time to discuss your interest so you can get "face

time" with them.

Do not commit until you are sure that you can make the commitment. It is okay to

tell them that you will send a "follow up" e-mail and go from there. It is also

okay to interview with 2-3 laboratories. You may find that the research that a

particular laboratory is working on is very intriguing, but the people or the

expectations do not meet you personality/ work ethic. Find a laboratory that is conducting research that is interesting to you!

Be upfront with your lab re: how many hours a week you can work and set out

expectations from the start. Ask them if they would like to have a meeting with

you every other week or so and inquire as to with whom you will be working with/for,

who you can go to if you have questions, if you can work late at night in their

lab with no supervision, what you do in case of emergency, etc.

Most students conduct Independent Studies throughout the year along with

courses, but a lot of students also do research or get started in research in

the summer. The Biology website offers information on some of these

opportunities. Fellowships and Summer Research: