• UC Berkeley ULAB

    ULAB Physics and Astronomy Division logo

    The Undergraduate Lab at Berkeley (ULAB) is a student-initiated, student-led program created under Berkeley’s DeCal Program, designed to help new undergraduates gain introductory research experiences.

    ULAB is an undergraduate-run research training organization that helps under-represented and under-supported students take their first steps into research. The program serves students from the Physics and Astronomy Departments.

    About ULAB

    Many students who aspire to become professional scientists encounter obstacles to learning about research, as it is very challenging to “get one’s foot in the door” through the standard route of undergraduates joining a research group. This is especially true for younger students, who may not be able to compete with senior students wanting the same positions. ULAB was created by students to address this problem. It creates new entry-level research opportunities for beginning students. This is especially important for students from under-represented groups, who may be discouraged in their career goals by the barriers to research. ULAB welcomes all who are interested in the physical sciences, and through the introductory research experiences in provides, helps prepare students to take further steps later. ULAB currently supports about 60 students yearly and has the capacity to grow.

    Like the N3AS Undergraduate Researchers program, ULAB strives to support under-served students interested in physics and astrophysics.

    By the end of 2024 ULAB will be further enhanced through a new undergraduate research facility created by the Physics Department and its donors, the Student Tinkering Studio. The studio is currently under construction. It will provide both space and instrumentation for undergraduate research projects, such as those created under ULAB.


    N3AS became the ULAB sponsor in early 2024, recognizing an opportunity to extend its existing undergraduate research program, which serves juniors and seniors with special emphasis on transfer students, to the younger students served by ULAB. The programs are scientifically compatible – many past ULAB activities have focused on astrophysics – and share common goals in supporting under-represented and under-supported students. This coupling creates important opportunities for peer mentorship and career development that can help motivate students from the time they enter Berkeley to graduation.

    ULAB was initially created under the Berkeley Discovery program, which provides undergraduate students an opportunity to supplement their classroom learning with hands-on, immersive experiences. Its connections to N3AS developed organically, through the involvement of senior N3AS student researchers as mentors and the participation of Dan Kasen as the ULAB faculty sponsor.