Faculty and student working in lab

Undergraduate research opportunities abound at UVM.

As a premiere U.S. environmental program, Environmental Sciences at UVM attracts top-notch faculty involved in cutting-edge research. Environmental sciences students have opportunities to work on research projects with faculty and graduate students, or conduct independent research projects in the laboratory and in the field. 

Funding for these projects can be found on a competitive basis through a number of undergraduate research programs at UVM. The UVM Office of Fellowships, Opportunities and Undergraduate Research helps students identify funding opportunities to support their undergraduate research proposals. Undergraduate students benefit from this by engaging with scholars as they conduct their research.

Undergraduate Research Spotlight

Helena Munson works in lab studying genetic variations of red spruce

Helena Munson

A native of Bar Harbor, Maine, Helena Munson grew up in a stunning natural environment, and her grandparents were active in efforts to preserve nearby Acadia National Park. So perhaps it’s no surprise that she ended up studying environmental sciences at UVM. She graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences with cum laude honors in May 2019. Munson discovered ways to weave together interests in biology and environmental studies. She credits her advisor, Professor Charlotte “Char” Mehrtens, with providing key guidance along the way. “The advising program is really strong here,” she said. “Char listened to what I wanted in my education, and helped me create my own academic path.” Adopting a concentration in environmental biology, Munson went to work in Professor Steve Keller’s Ecological Genomics Lab, which studies interactions between genetic variations of species and environmental change.

More about Helena

Munson’s work, which became the core of her senior Honors Thesis, explored genetic variations in red spruce, a common tree species in the eastern US. Following graduation, Munson spent the summer of 2019 continuing with her research in the Keller Lab--she wants to develop her Honors thesis into a manuscript to submit for publication. “The really cool thing about UVM is the interdisciplinary nature of the curriculum. If there’s something you really want to do, and advocate for it, there’s a good chance you can make it happen.”

Kunal Palawat studies climate change through deep data analysis

Kunal Palawat with test tubes

Kunal Palawat grew up in Milburn, New Jersey, and became president of the high school environmental club and the youngest member of the town's environmental commission. In the UVM Rubenstein School, Kunal connected with Associate Professor Carol Adair and her graduate students and became intensely involved in their lab, field, and data analysis research on climate change. While maintaining greenhouse plants, running scientific instruments, analyzing soil and plant samples, synthesizing data on agricultural nitrogen sources, Kunal developed the skills and precision of a research scientist. “Everything from sampling design to literature review to field collection to lab work has been my responsibility," said Kunal. "I have learned so much going through the process that a researcher would.” Since graduating in 2018, Kunal is now pursuing a master's in soil and water science at the University of Arizona.

students conducting research on frozen lake

How do I get involved with research?

Just ask! 38% of UVM undergraduates conduct research with a faculty mentor. 

Talk to a faculty member or advisor

UVM Office of Fellowships, Opportunities & Undergraduate Research