How to get involved in undergraduate research!
Pavlina Slezak ‘19
Do some research beforehand – Explore the literature and find a general topic in which you are interested. Is there some issue addressed in a paper that you would like to understand better? A species you would like to know more about? (Google Scholar is a great place to start.) Did something discussed in class spark your interest? You do not have to have a research project completely figured out, but a general topic or interest will be useful in guiding you.
Talk to your peers – Many of your peers have been or are currently involved in undergraduate research – ask them how they got started with their projects! Every research lab and department is slightly different, so they may be able to suggest the best way to navigate the process. Additionally, ask them about the time commitment for research and how it fits into their schedule.
Reach out to professors – It can be daunting to approach a professor, but the first step is to just ask them about what they do! If a professor mentions their research in class, go ask them more about it afterwards. If you are close to a professor but interested in conducting research in a different field, ask them if they know of any opportunities that match your interests. You even may be able to shadow someone in their research lab.
Go to research-related events – Many departments will host research-related events, such as laboratory “open houses,” seminars, and senior comps! Attending these events is the best way to learn about what it’s like to be a scientist and make connections with people involved in research. Seminar speakers can seem intimidating, but really they just want to feel welcomed on campus! Comps can help you see what you’ll need to accomplish before you graduate.
~Remember, the most important thing is to show that you are interested and curious! You do not have to have previous experience or know exactly what you are doing with your life. Professors and peers will be excited to share their research with you!
Pavlina Slezak ’19 is a junior in the Oxy Comp Bio lab studying future distribution modeling of at-risk salamanders.