The mentor relationship is a vital component of the undergraduate research experience. Faculty, graduate students, and community educators work with students to deepen their knowledge, learn key skills, and develop an identity as a scholar and researcher. Here are some tips for identifying and developing a relationship with research mentors:
Reflect on your interests found in current courses, past courses, or internships. Visit department websites for available positions, and talk with your professors about their work. Read scholarly journals and archives to to learn more about your topic(s) and gain insight into the field.
Review academic department websites and its list of current faculty and their areas of research. Try exploring areas outside of your major where faculty may be doing interdisciplinary research in your areas of interest. Attend talks on and off campus, visit office hours, and ask questions.
Contact professors through e-mail to discuss your research interests and potential research projects. Explain your interest in the faculty member's research area and what you would like to achieve. This is a great primer for how to write an introductory research letter (from the University of Santa Cruz). If you are interested in research in the biology department, enroll in the Biology Research Portal.
Develop an ongoing relationship with your research mentor by scheduling regular meetings, discussing your ideas, and asking for feedback on your findings. Take your mentor’s suggestions and keep exploring. Continue to read journals and scholarly articles, enroll in applicable courses, analyze your findings, and collaborate with your mentor.