Research Seminars

A research seminar is a weekly one-hour meeting discussing the research being done in a department research lab, as well as reading journal papers in that area. A subset of the research labs may run these seminars, typically only in fall and spring semesters.

Advanced undergraduates involved in research may participate in a research seminar, once given permission by the director of the lab. These students may also apply for 1 credit hour of CS 496: Research Seminar (application below). CS 496 may be taken up to three times, for a total of 3 credit hours.

Application for
CS 496 (Word)

Undergraduate Research & Honors

Analysis of the nesting structure of a contour dataset of the spine. Analysis of the nesting structure of a contour dataset of the spine (nested contours are red). Nesting behaviour is an important cue for reconstruction of a shape model, which is useful in surgical planning and diagnosis. Contour datasets arise from segmentation of CT/MR images. (Johnstone, Shape Lab)Undergraduate research offers you the opportunity to dive more deeply into one of the research topics studied in the department's research labs. You will use knowledge from the classroom but also move beyond it and experience the joy of discovery. Research demands a curious and motivated student who can work independently. The department offers you the opportunity to work closely with a faculty member in their research lab, exploring exciting topics in computer science such as smartphone security, modeling the shape of the optic nerve head, and digital currency.

Why Research?

Undergraduate research has many benefits. The most important is the joy of discovery. Research also prepares you for graduate and professional school, and gives you a taste of what to expect at the graduate level. If you plan to go to work immediately after your undergraduate studies, research gives you in-depth knowledge and experience that distinguishes you from other candidates in a job search.

Where to Start

The first step in developing a research topic is to speak with a faculty member about their research, and explore possible topics for research with them. This exploration will be led by the present focus of the lab, your course background, and your particular interests.

There are three mechanisms for receiving course credit for this research:

Ready to Learn More?

Explore these pages, the department's research clusters and labs, and the faculty. If you have any questions, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Directed Readings

The most common mechanism for receiving course credit for undergraduate research is to take the course CS 399: Directed Readings.

CS 399 allows initial exploration of a research topic. It may be taken for 1, 2, or 3 credit hours, and at most 3 credit hours may be counted towards CS electives. The application for CS 399, which involves the definition of a research proposal, is available below.

Application for
CS 399 (Word)

Honors Program

The honors program is for students who want to dive even more deeply into research, usually after initial exploration in CS 399: Directed Readings. It involves writing a formal scientific report, giving an oral presentation, and publishing your research, typically over two or three semesters. Students interested in honors research should have an established research project and fill out the honors application.

Students who complete the program will graduate “With Honors in Computer Science.”

Download Honors Application (Word)

Applications are due one week before the first day of class.


In order to be accepted into the program, you must:

  • earn a 3.5 GPA in CS courses;
  • earn a 3.0 GPA overall;
  • complete 18 semester hours in CS courses;
  • define a research project with a CS faculty mentor;
  • complete the honors application (at right) at least one week before the first day of class; and
  • enroll in CS 398: Undergraduate Honors Research for exactly 1 semester hour

Program Requirements

To complete the honors program, you will:

  • take 3 semester hours in CS 398: Undergraduate Honors Research, with each semester hour involving a minimum of three hours of laboratory work per week during the semester of enrollment;
  • submit a formal research proposal by the end of the first term of Honors Research, including an introduction, proposed methods, and relevant literature citation;
  • complete a formal written report in the form of a scientific paper; and
  • deliver an oral or poster presentation at a CS department seminar; it is possible that you will be recommended or required to give a formal presentation of your work at a scientific meeting.
Animating motion (right) using a rational quaternion spline (left). (Shape Lab; Johnstone, with former PhD student Jim Williams, now at Siemens Research)Animating motion (right) using a rational quaternion spline (left). (Shape Lab; Johnstone, with former PhD student Jim Williams, now at Siemens Research)