The search for research opportunities is best started sooner rather than later. Below is a list of things that can be done to begin the process of identifying potential research opportunities:
- Contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the department of your intended major. Your Director will often know of faculty who are undertaking research in a specific scientific area. Consider going outside your department, and even outside the College of Science; relevant and worthwhile research experiences can certainly be found in the Colleges of Engineering and Arts and Letters.
- Visit departmental websites, where faculty will describe their research interests. Faculty may also provide an estimate of the number of undergraduates they typically mentor at one time and post opportunities to work as technicians in their laboratory – a useful way to get experience working in a lab. If you know of undergraduates already working in labs, talk to them about opportunities that may exist in those labs.
- Talk to instructors of your courses, especially those you have enjoyed. Your professors may have opportunities available in their laboratory or may know of faculty looking for undergraduate researchers. Similarly, the teaching assistants in courses you are taking may also know of opportunities in faculty laboratories where they are doing their undergraduate or graduate research.
- Take advantage of events that promote undergraduate research. Students share their experiences of research at two major events, the Fall Undergraduate Research Fair in late October and the Joint Annual Meeting at the end of the spring semester.
- Talk to other students already engaged in research. As you get to know upper-classmen, find out how they got involved in their current line of research and any recommendations they might have. There are also many student-run organizations that can provide opportunities and information, such as Scientia, the College of Science's Journal of Undergraduate Research, and the Notre Dame Hub, Notre Dame's own academic networking site for students.
- Visit the University of Notre Dame Career Center. The Career Center and Center counselors can provide information on numerous research internships outside of the semester and off-campus. On the Career Center website you can also find the Go Irish! database of research and internship opportunities, including REU programs around the nation.
- Visit the University's undergraduate research website. The site has valuable information on research, including information on funding your research and workshops on research activities, such as proposal writing.
- Use Notre Dame's Alumni Network. There are many alumni engaged in research throughout the US and abroad that would value the opportunity to mentor a Notre Dame undergraduate. One especially useful resource is your local Notre Dame alumni club.
Ultimately, you'll need to do some footwork, knock on doors, and be persistent. Many times it’s simply a combination of luck and just talking to the right people that will give you the kind of undergraduate research opportunity you are looking for. However, if you show some flexibility while keeping your ears and eyes open for opportunities, you will almost certainly be successful.
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Xuemin (Sheryl) Lu
Undergraduate Research Director
College of Science
Assistant Director, Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement
Spring 2014 Office Hours: Mondays 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.; Thursdays 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.; and by appointment.
Associate Director, Colleges of Engineering and Science