St. Mary's College of Maryland, The Public Honors College
About St. Mary's

Academics: Undergraduate Research

Active Learning through Independent Study

St. Mary’s students have many opportunities to make intellectual discoveries of their own with the encouragement and guidance of faculty mentors.

Student presenting her SMP poster

Each spring semester, a day is set aside for St. Mary’s students to provide poster presentations of their St. Mary’s projects to the entire campus.

The Virtual Dove

Learn more about one student’s St. Mary’s project that combined her interests in physics, sailing, and colonial Maryland history.

St. Mary’s Projects


The most popular undergraduate research opportunity, undertaken by approximately sixty percent of the student body, is the St. Mary’s Project – a culminating project of original research, scholarship or creative performance undertaken in the senior year.

Here are some recent examples of St. Mary’s projects:

  • An anthropology project that traced the annual movements of the Piscataway Indians.
  • An art history project that explored the advocacy role of landscape artists in the creation of the national parks system.
  • A biology project that researched options for oyster restoration in the Chesapeake Bay.
  • A chemistry project that analyzed the aromatic compounds in naval aviation jet fuel.
  • An economics project that researched the effectiveness of microfinance measures in combating poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • An English project that studied the portrayal of white liberals in civil rights era literature.
  • A history project on the experience and appropriation of youth in early twentieth-century Zionism.
  • A philosophy project that explored the role of suffering in a meaningful life.
  • A political science project that assessed the importance of international intelligence cooperation in countering terrorism.
  • A psychology project that studied the effects of pharmacological REM deprivation on spatial memory.

St. Mary's Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SMURF)


SMURF is an eight-week summer program at St. Mary's College in which students from a variety of disciplines work on self-chosen research topics with guidance from faculty mentors.

Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)


The REU program is a six week research experience in mathematics available to sophomores and juniors.

Field Research


Field research opportunities, from humanitarian efforts in The Gambia to archeological digs in the Chesapeake, are available both locally and abroad.


"I want to go to medical school, so I was looking for a way to do research or to get involved in some type of experience that would be applicable to what eventually, I hope, will be my career. When I came across SMURF (the St. Mary's Undergraduate Research Fellowship program), it seemed like a perfect idea to get experience by doing my own research. … I’ve learned more statistics this summer than ever before."

Caitlin Nickens ’14
Major: Psychology