Are you interested in getting involved in research, scholarship, or creative activity at UConn? If so, you’ve come to the right place. The Office of Undergraduate Research is a resource for students in all majors, at all campuses, and at all stages, from freshman to senior. We support students throughout the research cycle, beginning with the exploration of possible topics and mentors and continuing through the dissemination of project outcomes to the campus community and beyond. If you’re ready to take the first step in getting involved, read on!
As you think about getting involved in undergraduate research, it is important to bear the following points in mind:
- the “right” opportunity for you is one that aligns with your interests and learning goals
- most opportunities to participate in research or creative activity on campus are never formally advertised; if you restrict your search to advertised opportunities, you will miss out on these other possibilities
- a proactive strategy of outreach to potential mentors is the best approach for developing opportunities that match your goals and interests
Accordingly, we recommend a 3-step process for getting started in undergraduate research or creative activity. You can download a worksheet to record your strategy for getting involved, which you will develop by working through these three steps.
STEP 1: SETTING GOALS
The first step to getting involved with research or creative activity is to establish your goals and interests. When you approach faculty to ask about opportunities, you want to be prepared to make a positive first impression by showing that you’ve thought about your interests and why you want to get involved.
Visit our Setting Goals page, where a set of questions is provided to help you reflect about your goals, interests, and the parameters of the type of opportunity that would work for you at this stage in your undergraduate career.
The Why Undergraduate Research? page is another useful resource for goal setting. This page presents some of the frequently reported outcomes and benefits of participation in undergraduate research and creative activity, including the comments of other UConn undergraduates about what they have learned and how their participation has enriched their undergraduate experience.
STEP 2: EXPLORING OPPORTUNITIES
With your goals in mind, you are now ready to begin exploring opportunities. We encourage you to review the information provided in the Explore Opportunities section of this website, located within the Students menu. Review advice about locating On-Campus Research Opportunities and review Posted UConn Research Opportunities, which are research positions submitted to the Office of Undergraduate Research by mentors seeking research assistants.
If you are interested in opportunities off campus, visit the Off-Campus Research Opportunities page, where there are links to databases compiling multiple opportunities in specific areas (e.g., psychology, clinical medicine), as well as downloadable PDFs compiling opportunities in the STEM fields or in the social sciences, humanities, and arts.
Finally, we encourage you to peruse the Profiles in Undergraduate Research page to see what other UConn students have pursued and achieved, and to get inspired about what you might do as an undergraduate researcher!
STEP 3: MAKING CONNECTIONS
Making connections is what allows you to go beyond the set of advertised opportunities to develop an opportunity that is a good fit for you. With your set of interests in mind, do some targeted online research to learn more about faculty members whose research relates to your interests. Faculty profiles can be found via departmental webpages. Don’t limit yourself to the department that maps to your major; oftentimes, faculty in several departments will be conducting research related to the same topic, problem, or question. A student with an interest in neuroscience might find a mentor in Physiology & Neurobiology; the Behavioral Neuroscience division in Psychological Sciences; in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences; or at UConn Health, to give but a few examples.
The Make Connections section of this website (located within the Students menu) offers further guidance on how to reach out to potential mentors. Within this section, the Connecting With Faculty page discusses informational interviews and how to prepare for them. The Email Etiquette page provides tips on composing a professional email along with sample messages to on-campus and off-campus contacts. Telling Your Story helps you craft a succinct and relevant answer to the common request, “Tell me about yourself.” Finally, Building Your Network offers advice on expanding and maintaining a network of professional contacts.
OUR staff members are happy to help you develop an individualized strategy for getting involved in undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity. Please contact us to set up a time to talk. In addition, the Peer Research Ambassadors are also available to talk with students and share advice about getting started with and engaging in research, scholarship, and/or creative projects.