Identify your interests
Take advantage of undergraduate research initiatives
Identify faculty members who share your interests
Stop! Prepare before contacting faculty members
Contact a faculty member
Prepare for your initial meeting with a faculty member
Ensure a successful first meeting with a faculty member
Keep in mind. . .
Identify your interests.
- What topics interest you?
- What relevant coursework have you taken or do you plan to take?
- Is there something you are passionate about and would like to explore?
- What volunteer or work experience do you have?
- What organizations, sports, or activities do you participate in?
- What are your favorite courses?
Take advantage of undergraduate research initiatives.
A variety of programs exist to support undergraduate research on campus.
- The Office for Undergraduate Research in the College of Natural Sciences provides access to a range of resources, from the Freshman Research Initiative to student groups to a database of summer research opportunities.
- Various undergraduate research opportunities exist within the Cockrell School of Engineering, including paid and volunteer research positions and for-credit research programs.
- The College of Liberal Arts provides comprehensive information on events and resources in the College. In addition, there are many undergraduate research scholarship opportunities through the College of Liberal Arts.
- Students in any college can participate in the Bridging Disciplines Programs. BDPs allow you to develop an interdisciplinary specialization that complements your major and combines coursework, internships, and research. The BDP Research Coordinators can help you identify research experiences and connect you with a faculty research mentor.
- Organizations around campus provide opportunities for students with similar interests to discuss their work and promote involvement in undergraduate research. The Science Undergraduate Research Group (SURGe) and Liberal Arts Undergraduate Research Chapter (LAUNCH) include students who work to foster a cohesive undergraduate research community.
Identify faculty members who share your interests.
- Search EUREKA for potential research projects and faculty who work on your preferred topics.
- Read faculty profiles on departmental web pages.
- Browse organized research units on campus.
Stop! Prepare before contacting faculty members.
- Approach faculty with respect. Before you approach a professor, do your homework. Read her or his web site, find out about recent publications, and have a good understanding of that person’s research.
- Make sure you can clearly articulate your interests. An Advisor at the Office of Undergraduate Research can help.
Contact a faculty member.
- Be professional. Write an email in a formal, respectful tone. Address the faculty member as ‘Prof. X’ or ‘Dr. Y.’
- Include a sentence or two stating your interests and topics you would like to explore (primarily those that the faculty member shares with you).
- Show your enthusiasm and commitment.
Prepare for your initial meeting with a faculty member.
- Review what made you interested in this topic (courses, college experiences, family/background, media).
- Look over the faculty member’s curriculum vitae and/or publications.
- Think about skills and qualities you can bring to the project.
Ensure a successful first meeting with a faculty member.
- Be confident, excited, and relaxed.
- Introduce yourself and address the faculty member as ‘Prof. X’ or ‘Dr. Y.’
- Look presentable. This isn’t a job interview, but you should dress neatly.
- Ask the professor what will be expected of you.
Keep in mind . . .
- Be willing to start “at the bottom.” Just remember, eventually you will reach the top.
- Be yourself. The faculty member will want to get to know your interests and ideas.
- Think about your availability. How much time do you have to commit to this project? (Remember that your workload shifts during midterms and finals. Don’t overestimate how much time you can contribute.)
- Be reliable. Faculty members are looking for students who are not just interested in their work, but who are reliable and can be counted on.
- Don’t get discouraged. If this faculty member does not have an undergraduate position available, she or he might be able to recommend another project or faculty member for you.