Student-Faculty Research

What is the value of research?

Beyond the findings, research builds critical skills with value in almost any context. Research provides an opportunity for individualized learning through a focused, in-depth exploration of a topic of personal interest. Research skills are essential background for decision-making in the private and public sectors and are required of anyone seeking academic positions. Research experience is helpful when applying for fellowships and is essential preparation for graduate studies in any analytical discipline. And—perhaps most valuable of all—research provides an opportunity for collaborative thinking and shared process as student and professor join forces to solve a common problem.

Because of the intensive, long-term partnership involved, research facilitates strong bonds between Penn students and the professors who guide them. The resulting relationships often endure long after graduation, yielding opportunities for personal and professional advising and leading to well-informed letters of recommendation when the time comes to apply for fellowships, graduate study, or jobs.

How does Penn create opportunities for student/faculty research?

The Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships also supports undergraduate involvement in faculty research through the Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program (PURM), which provides students completing their first or second undergraduate year the opportunity to spend a summer as a research assistant for a Penn faculty member. Since its inception in 2007, PURM has funded more than 350 Penn faculty members to provide more than 600 freshman and sophomore undergraduates with cutting-edge research experiences.

How is research at Penn funded?

Penn conducts thousands of research projects each year and is consistently ranked as one of the largest recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health. While federal support accounts for 85 percent of this funding, Penn also receives valuable support from a host of other sponsors, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the City of Philadelphia, foundations, associations, alumni, and industry partners.  

With 141 research centers and institutes, research is a substantial and esteemed enterprise at Penn. As of fiscal year 2015, the research community includes more than 4,300 faculty and more than 1,100 postdoctoral fellows, 5,500 academic support staff and graduate student trainees, and a research budget of $851 million.