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Most commonly, students become excited about the research their classroom professor presents during the semester. By making an out-of-class appointment to learn more specifics about the teacher’s research, a plan of work can be designed and an agreement/commitment can be made by both of you. The search can be hard work and require some time on your part, but it’s worth it. If you have a special talent begin seeking out the logical faculty contacts to serve as your mentor. Go to the library and read some of work written by those faculty. Be prepared to demonstrate both your precocious skills and sincere interest. Since you will be selling your talent/energy, build yourself an “ad” to show off your skills, past experience, key courses taken, samples of your writing and anything else that fits the research/creative projects being conducted by the mentor. No matter what, look for the best fit for you (best mentor, the most exciting research and the best associates/graduate students/postdocs).
It should be no more than 1 page long
List all the ways to get in touch with you: e-mail, phone, pager#, cell, etc
List background courses you have taken as a foundation within the desired discipline
Describe the experience you’re looking for (perhaps techniques, tasks, types of data collection, etc)
State the commitment you are able to make to the research: How many semesters and weekly contact hours you can be involved? At what times are you available?
Find Your Mentor
Mentor Database is under construction. Once it is completed a link to access to the mentor database will be placed here.
[ Use this Link to Mentors as a way to locate scholars/professionals on or off campus with research topics that match your own. Note that their fact sheets include a description of the research underway as well as the requirements/prerequisites needed by the student in order to apply. For example, some mentors engaged in biochemical synthesis of specific proteins may require that you have completed both inorganic and organic chemistry. Other faculty may be eager to invite freshmen so that they can be trained to work with the mentor, sometimes with salary, for four years. Use these links to explore key words by Discipline or Research Title or Department Name or Faculty/Mentor Name. Also listed are Government (State/Federal) Agencies and Companies that have entered data relating to their need for undergraduate researchers. ]
You may also know of juniors or seniors in your major who are excited about both their mentor and the research being done. Follow their lead and make contact, remembering that faculty are busy and require the courtesy of a phone call or email message for an appointment. Don’t just knock on the office for laboratory door and expect an invitation to enter unless your visit is during formal office hours.
Although large research programs may include four or more undergraduate researchers, most mentors select only one or two students per year. The reason is that training a new undergraduate is equivalent to mentoring a new master’s degree student. It is a serious commitment on the part of both student and mentor. Do not become involved in undergraduate research if you are not prepared for disciplined, time consuming [although exciting] work.