Grow and Develop Within a Research Group

Joining a research group allows you to gain valuable connections within the research team that could lead to graduate school opportunities.

Learn What You Like or Don't Like

Understanding what specific topics you enjoy within your field is important when determining what career path you hope to take in the future. In some cases, participating in research can help you figure out what you don’t like; nothing is worse than pursuing a focus that you’re not interested in.

Earn Money or Credits

In some cases, you can get paid or earn academic credit while engaging in research! Organized undergraduate research programs often offer financial incentives and you can ask your faculty mentor if there are opportunities for pay or course credit.

Have Fun!

Undergraduate research is exciting for many reasons! You have opportunities to travel, make friends, explore ideas and discover new information. Remember that you’re not being forced to do undergraduate research; you’re seeking this opportunity to jumpstart your career and learn new things either within or beyond your major

Become a Specialist

Undergraduate research is a great way to narrow down your academic interests and decide on an academic area that you want to become an expert in. Whether you will be applying for graduate school or a new job, employers will always be looking for experiences beyond the classroom!

Build Self Confidence

Students who participate in undergraduate research meet lots of people, develop new communication strategies, and learn new skills that they can use in their careers. These aspects can help students build confidence in themselves and their future career paths.

Make Connections!

Regardless of your next career step, it's always good to make connections with people. Faculty mentors can introduce you to graduate programs, job openings, and other professional development opportunities!

Present Your Research

Presenting your research is an exhilarating experience where you can discuss your hard work more in-depth and connect with others that share similar interests. You can add conference experiences, publications, and other forms of presentations on your resume.


TranscriptPodcasts Archive

Finding a Research Mentor

To help determine what your interests are, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What subjects interest me the most? 
  • Have there been any classes that have been most interesting to me? What made them interesting? 
  • Are there any questions I have that I could use to conduct research?
  • Are there other topics I am interested in?
  • Is there any research currently happening in the field I am interested in?
  • Are there any skills I am looking to develop? 

Now, look over all of your responses and see if there are any common themes. Did the same topic come up more than once? Are any of the topics closely related or linked? Now that you've asked yourself these questions, are there topics that come up more than once? 

As you continue to collect your responses, think about what topics or themes you don't like as well. This will help narrow down your research interests. 

Finding a Faculty Mentor:

  • Search through OSUs website to identify potential mentors working in your area of research interests. Look over faculty profiles, research labs, and department websites and compile a list of mentors to contact. Recording names, emails, and specialties in Excel will help you organize the information and help you keep track of your emails. 
  • Identify which OSU departments might have faculty exploring topics that are of interest to you (e.g. there may be faculty in Biology or Fisheries and Wildlife that do research on whales). You can find a complete list of colleges and their departments here
  • Talk with our URSA Ambassadors about their personal experiences getting involved in research! They might know which faculty are doing research that you're interested in.
  • Visit us at drop-in advising hours! We can help you identify faculty members of interest.

Once you have narrowed down a list of potential Faculty Mentors, it will be time to contact them:

  • Email is a good way to make initial contact with mentors. Sending an email will ensure that everything discussed can be revisited at a later time and will be much easier for the faculty mentor to manage. Consider these first emails the first step to an interview, so be sure the email reflects your best effort. You can find tips on email etiquette here. Make sure your message is free of spelling or grammatical errors. Use formal language, and keep it brief. If you send the first email and receive no response, wait at least a week and send a follow up email. 
  • Once the initial email is sent and you are in the process of determining a time to meet your mentor, check out these tips on Interviewing to work in a Research Lab
Office of Undergraduate Research