Common Questions

What research opportunities are available to Barnard students?

Barnard students with interest in the sciences have many opportunities to pursue research. Since we enroll only undergraduates, our students do not compete for access to research opportunities with graduate students. And, faculty members who teach at Barnard recognize the unique challenge that women face in many STEM fields in their pursuit of the highest levels of graduate work. Barnard faculty provide mentorship, opportunity and guidance to encourage persistence. Barnard students are regularly hired during the semester and summer to work in faculty research labs and are encouraged to pursue independent research interests through senior thesis papers and projects.

According to research provided via the Women's College Coalition, there are distinct advantages to attending a women's college, especially for students in the sciences. Students at women's colleges are more likely to pursue degrees in economics, physical and life sciences, and mathematics than women at coeducational institutions. Graduates of women's colleges pursue doctorates in math, science, and engineering in greater numbers than do female graduates of coeducational schools, and tend to hold higher positions in their fields and earn larger salaries.

How do students get involved in research at Barnard?

At Barnard, learning about research opportunities is as easy as talking to your professors. Faculty members at Barnard recommend that students make an appointment early in their career to discuss research interests and to learn more about available opportunities. Department websites provide links to research interests within faculty labs during the semester and summer as well as opportunities at other institutions in New York City and across the country for summer programs.

How early can students begin working in a research lab at Barnard?

Students normally begin working in a research lab after their first year. To be prepared to work safely and independently in science labs at Barnard, it is expected that students have at least a year of experience with lab coursework so that they may become “research ready” and primed to actively contribute to ongoing projects. During this time, students should become familiar with the type of research occurring in their department, review ongoing research projects, read recent publications and discuss individual interests with faculty. When students work in research labs at Barnard, they are expected to be contributing scholars, not simply technicians.

Where can students do research while enrolled at Barnard?

New York City has more scientists than any other city in North America. Opportunities for science research exist in labs in all departments at Barnard (they are funded by the National Science Foundation, the Hughes Science Pipeline Project, VERITAS. Amgen, the Sherman Fairchild Foundation, etc.), at Columbia University (the Morningside Heights campus, the Lamont-Doherty Observatory, Columbia Physicians and Surgeons, the Earth Institute, etc.), and at many nearby universities and institutions around New York City (The Rockefeller University, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Black Rock Forest Consortium, American Museum of Natural History, New York Botanical Garden, etc).

What is the advantage of studying science at a liberal arts college like Barnard?

“If a student wants to do science, Barnard is a great place to do it,” announced Dr. Jacob Alexander, Director of the General Chemistry Lab, during a recent tour of the Chemistry department. At a research liberal arts college like Barnard, students are the priority, first and foremost. And, as science majors, students have a great deal of interaction with teaching faculty who are eager to support them as colleagues and fellow researchers. Our students regularly graduate having had opportunities to present at professional conferences and author research with their professors.

People who know science know Barnard. Extensive laboratory work is required by all science majors at Barnard and prepares students for success in graduate or professional research programs. Students learn how to design and test hypotheses, use modern scientific equipment, and interpret data. They also learn science communication skills by critiquing research articles, writing laboratory reports and research papers, and participating in oral presentations and debates.

What about other STEM fields like Math, Computer Science and Engineering?

In addition to the following science departments, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science/Biology, Neuroscience and Behavior, Psychology, Physics/Astronomy, students at Barnard also study Mathematics and Computer Science.  Additionally, some pursue Engineering through our 3/2 Program with the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia. 

Research areas for Computer Science majors (housed at Columbia), for example, include: Computational Biology, Graphics and User Interfaces, Machine Learning, Networking, NLP and Speech, Security and Privacy, Software Systems, Theory, and Vision and Robotics.  The research activity in the Mathematics department (including both Barnard and Columbia faculty) is centered around groups of faculty with common interests in a sub-field of mathematics. The main sub-fields of activity are:  algebraic geometry, geometric analysis, mathematical physics, number theory, probability and financial mathematics, and topology.

Are there relatedstudent clubs and organizations?

Yes. The student body is very active. Clubs organized at either Barnard or Columbia are generally open to students from either campus.
»  see the Co-curricular page for related student organizations