These phrases only begin to describe what undergraduate research is all about. Undergraduate research is an introduction to the culture of learning by doing. It is self-directed inquiry under the guidance of an expert mentor, usually a professor, and directly supervised by the professor, a post-doctoral fellow, a graduate student, or a more senior undergraduate student. Students, their mentors and supervisors collaborate as partners while exploring topics of interest of them. Students may participate in new or ongoing projects intended to provide an original contribution to the discipline.
Today's research groups may be inter and multi-disciplinary, and many have collaborations with other research groups. Investigations can traverse boundaries across fields within a single discipline or across other disciplines. It is common nowadays to find a biologist collaborating with or applying techniques that are more typical of a chemist, a physicist, a geologist or an engineer. Research in mathematics and computer science has expanded to all other areas as well, and symbiotic relationships exist. Scientists and engineers are collaborating with social and behavioral scientists. Artists and musicians continue to engage science and engineers. Many answers and current questions and challenges are found in historical accounts. Furthermore, 21st century scientists are also global in their approach. Most serious problems our society is facing are not confined to local or national boundaries. Scientific research aimed at finding solutions to global issues is being conducted via international collaborations.