written by samantha wong (peace advisor)
There are usually two approaches you can take to find and get research: emailing professors directly or applying to research programs. I haven’t had experience with the former approach, but I heard that it helps to read some of the professor’s research papers and/or visit their website so that you can be sure that this is the field you want to research in. When emailing the professor(s) of interest, it also helps to email them late in the night so that your email appears at the top of their inbox when they open their email in the morning. Be sure to directly reference the topics they’ve researched in your email to show that you know what their lab is focused on. You can also request an informational interview to ask them questions about their research and demonstrate your interest in joining their lab.
I first got involved in research by applying to the summer undergraduate research program hosted by mcbUSA, also called SURP. Other research programs include URAP and SPUR (CNR-only students), but I heard that URAP can often be pretty competitive. SURP allows you to select and apply to three research projects, and your applications are sent directly to the professors who are hosting the research projects. The professors can then select candidates for interviews and make final decisions. I got selected for the Suding lab and conducted research related to ecological genetics. After a summer and a semester, I received an email from my major advisor listing a research opportunity in the Lindow lab. After sending my resume and expressing my interest in the position, I was offered an interview and later the position in the lab. My supervisor listed my previous research experience as a major reason why I was offered the position, so you can definitely use the skills you learn from one lab to apply to other labs!
Getting research is a tricky process, but it is definitely a valuable experience to have whether or not you are interested in pursuing research as a career.