Finding Research Opportunities

Because there are many pathways to find a research opportunity at the UofM, we encourage students to start by learning about their options and connecting with faculty and other undergraduate researchers.

Step 1: Define Your Interests

  • Which subject areas interest you the most?
  • What topics in your coursework appeals to you?
  • Do you have a specific project in mind?

You will spend a lot of time on research so you need to find a project that excites you.

Step 2: Identify Possible Research Mentors

Identifying a research mentor takes some work and below are various methods you can use:

  • Browse the Undergraduate Research Database to learn about faculty’s projects in your area of interest.
  • Go to academic department websites to learn about faculty and their research interests. Many faculty include a link to their research websites and CVs on departmental websites.
  • Ask your professors and academic advisor for suggestions and recommendations.
  • Find out who mentors other undergraduate researchers by attending the Works in Progress Symposium and Student Research Forum.
  • Follow your college, academic department, and Honors College on social media to find out about new research projects and grants.

Step 3: Do Your Research

Do your research. First, search online for each potential research mentor and their research programs. Try to understand the basic principles of their research areas. You can also search each potential mentor’s research using Google Scholar.

Step 4: Reach Out to Potential Mentors

 Now that you’ve done your research, it’s time to reach out to potential research mentors.

  • Identify three to five potential mentors based upon their research interests.
  • If a mentor is one of your instructors, speak to the faculty member after class or during office hours to request an appointment to discuss research.
  • If a potential mentor is not one of your instructors, email to let the faculty member know you are interested in their research and would like to learn more about the possibility of working with them. You should also attach your resume and unofficial transcript to the email. See the Career Services website for more information about creating a good resume.
  • Remember email etiquette when contacting potential research mentors. Tips for writing an email to faculty about research can be found HERE.

Step 5: Be Prepared

Bring a copy of your transcript and your resume to the appointment. During the meeting, you should give the potential research mentor an idea of the amount of time you can commit to the research experience, both in hours per week and total number per semester.

  • Show up slightly early to ensure that you are not late.
  • Practice your “elevator pitch” which includes why you are interested in a research experience and in particular the faculty member’s research: memphis.edu/stem/elevator-pitch/
  • Prepare appropriate questions for the faculty member, such as: Do you have a research project that needs an undergraduate’s help? What are the typical responsibilities for students in your research? What are your expectations? Are there any particular skills that I should develop?
  • After the meeting, follow up with a “thank you” email to acknowledge the faculty member’s time. Also, you should follow up with anything that was requested of you during the meeting, such as your availability to work on certain days or a recommendation contact.

Step 6: Select Your Research Mentor & Start Work

Now that you’ve learned about research opportunities and connected with a research mentor, you’re ready to get started. Take the work seriously and give it priority in your schedule. You may also want to:

  • Talk with your new research mentor about the possibility of earning academic credit for your participation.
  • Plan to participate in the Works in Progress Symposium (fall semester) and the Student Research Forum (spring semester).
  • If you’re in the Honors College, apply for funding through the Honors Summer Research Fellowship.
  • Once your research is completed, discuss with your research mentor the possibility of submitting your research to QuaesitUM, the UofM’s undergraduate research journal.