You need good undergraduate grades to get in the door to talk to potential research advisors. That doesn’t mean a 4.0 but Professor Sherry Rowland once told me that if a student didn’t have a 3.3 or better they were probably better off studying than being in a research group. However, having great grades is not a guarantee that you will succeed in undergraduate research. Back in the late 1980s we had three undergraduate students in our group. One had a 3.9, another had a 3.7, and the other had a 3.2. By far the best of the three in the lab, both in terms of lab skills and being creative in the lab, was the student with the 3.2. She was a hard worker (all three were females) and while the others weren’t slackers by any means, she was just the best.
Research Interests: Atmospheric Chemistry
Faculty Profile: http://www.faculty.uci.edu/profile.cfm?faculty_id=4579