How to Find Research Opportunities as an Undergrad

Laboratory & Research Advice

How to Find Research Opportunities as an Undergrad


This article is written for readers who plan on attending grad school, medical school, or obtaining a job in science and believe that research experience will make you a more attractive candidate. Here are some general tips to finding research opportunities. This post will focus more on school-year research. Part II will discuss summer research opportunities.


Determine what subjects you want to conduct research

Before looking for research opportunities, you need to find the field that interests you the most. In addition to finding a field, you must specify what about the field interests you and what specifically you want to research about that field. Google Scholar is one of the best resources to use to determine your interests. It allows you to search articles and research papers on a variety of subjects. Also, you should look at the leading scientific journals for interesting fields of research.


Determine when you want to conduct the research

There are two different time periods where research can be done. Those periods are the summer and school year. Summer research can occur at your university or at any university in the world. School-year research typically occurs at your university or at a university nearby. The process for obtaining a research opportunity varies between the two time periods. The following steps focus on school-year research.


Research the professors at your university and universities near your university

You should look at the professors at your university and nearby universities who do work in the field that interests you. Make a list of the professors who work in your field interests you and rank them based on that interest.


Connect with undergraduate and graduate students who work in labs

Now that you have your list of professors, you should contact students who work in the professors’ labs. You can contact these students by email or in person. Often these students are members of professional organizations like the American Chemical Society. The majority of colleges have these organizations. Undergraduate students would be the most beneficial since they would understand your position better. Ask for advice on how to approach the professor and whether they can recommend you to the professor.


Contact Professors

Keep in mind that you are more likely to obtain a research opportunity at your university than at a nearby university. You should email the professors stating your interest in a research opportunity in their labs and requesting a meeting to further discuss that interest. Professors are inundated with numerous emails daily. Thus, you need to be patient. If you do not receive a response a week after sending an email, you should stop by the professor’s office and introduce yourself.


There is a possibility that you will not find any school-year research opportunities. Do not despair. You can contact the professors next year to see if there is a spot in their lab. You can also look at summer research opportunities.