Finding a Faculty Research Mentor

Remember, CCRF cannot pair you with a faculty mentor. Most students in the College find research opportunities by reaching out to potential faculty mentors who share their research interests. This page will walk you through finding a faculty research mentor. Please also be sure to review the other pages and resources under the "For Students" tab. 

1. If you are an undergraduate student, you should do the following before contacting/communicating with potential faculty mentor(s):

Do your homework: review faculty bios/websites/CVs, read recent publication(s) and/or book excerpts.
Reflect on why a faculty member's research interests you.
Be selective and focused but identify a handful of potential mentors.
Keep in mind that faculty have a lot of demands on their time and sometimes can't serve as a mentor even if it's a good fit.

2. If you are struggling to find a mentor, no one seems to do the research you are interested in, or no one is reaching back out to you:

Check in with department(s) or center(s) working on research topics of interest. For example, reach out to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, post-docs, and graduate students and ask, "I am interested in X, who should I be talking to?"
Speak to Research Advisors in your discipline or in an area you hope to research in. 

Talk to faculty you already know and professors of classes you were inspired in. They can direct you to other researchers who may serve as faculty mentors.

3. Once you’ve identified a potential faculty mentor, you can reach out to them with a brief yet informative email. Here’s one possible structure for the email: 

Short, descriptive subject line
Professional (respectful) salutation (Dear Professor _____,)
Who you are (name, academic year, and major)
How you learned about their research (e.g., from taking a class, attending a lecture, reading an article)
What interests you specifically about their research
Relevant courses, skills, and/or experiences that you have had
Why you want to get involved in undergraduate research/connection to future goals
A request about their availability or office hours
Don’t forget to convey excitement and curiosity!

4. If a potential faculty mentor agrees to a meeting, make sure to come to that meeting prepared and on time! A few suggestions as you prepare:   

Become more familiar with the faculty member’s research - further review their CV and read one or two of their articles (read faculty bios/websites, find articles through the Library’s “Articles Plus” search engine/JSTOR)
Bring specific questions
Bring and/or email your resume/CV and unofficial transcript
Be able to articulate your specific interests in their research; your future goals; and your general availability and hours per week
Show enthusiasm and thank them for their time!

5. In the process of finding a faculty mentor, both you and your mentor should be thinking about the following questions: 

Will this be a good and mutual fit?
Are there clear expectations?
Will we be able to communicate well?
Is this undergraduate researcher teachable? Will my mentor be patient and encouraging?