Identifying research opportunities and potential mentors

  1. Classes are a good place to start. When you become excited and interested in pursuing more information about a particular topic in a class, think about whether or not that may be signaling toward a potential research topic. Professors you have had in class are a great starting point when looking for research opportunities. Take advantage of office hours to talk further about your interests and how you might participate in or contribute to their research.  Additionally, they may also have colleagues to recommend as a part of your outreach effort.
  2. Do your homework. Faculty are involved in dynamic work that changes from day to day.  To get an understanding of a given faculty member’s research interests, read their online CV and identify the themes or niche areas in which they work.
  3. Read articles written by the professor(s) whose research appeals to you. This will give you further insight into their work and whether it is something you would like to be involved with. It also makes a very good impression on the professor when you meet with him/her.
  4. Talk with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in your department.  They will be especially informed about the types of work being done by faculty in the department or division and/or can point you to other resources. Additionally, they will have a sense of which faculty readily take on undergraduate researchers. Your academic advisor may also know about faculty research interests and undergraduate research opportunities across campus.
  5. Leverage your librarians. Talk with librarians, particularly those in your research subject areas. They are a tremendous resource for all of your research needs and may be able to direct you toward unexpected research opportunities.
  6. Read UChicago publications. Stay up to date about the kind of research occurring across campus and in its many research institutes. Don’t neglect the UChicago Press as a resource as well.
  7. Attend symposia, seminars, sponsored talks, performances, exhibitions and conferences focusing on research projects or initiatives that may interest you. This is also a good way to network informally post-presentation.  
  8. Visit department, division, and research institute websites, which often include information about faculty research interests, projects, and publications.
  9. Talk with faculty fellows, post-docs, and other visiting faculty who may be participating in trans-disciplinary research at places like the Franke Institute or the Neubauer Collegium. Harper Fellows, preceptors, and graduate student TAs are also good resources but, generally, you will want to ensure that you are working with a faculty-level research mentor.
  10. Network. Fellow students can be your best resource when it comes finding out faculty research projects and ways to become involved in undergraduate research.