Getting Involved in Research
Updated: Nov 15
PHHS '16, Brandeis University '20
Attending college at Brandeis University, a research institution, I may be biased to say that research is a formative aspect of college. Why get involved in research? Aside from being an impressive bullet point on your resume, research allows you to apply concepts learned in the classroom to the real world. Research affords you the opportunity to contribute original knowledge to a particular field and obtain valuable, transferable skills that can be applied to many careers and professions. But how do you get involved in undergraduate research? Keep reading if you would like some advice!
Research is diverse. When you hear “research” you might automatically think of beakers and test tubes. While this might be considered more traditional scientific research, it is not the only type of research being performed. Research exists in every single department and field of study. There is research being conducted in Anthropology, Journalism, Business, Women’s and Gender Studies, Philosophy, Exercise Physiology and SO many more disciplines. You can also be involved with research even if you are pre-med, pre-law, pre-nursing, etc.
The first step in getting involved with research is doing your research (no pun intended). Find the website of the department that you wish to get involved with at your school. Look up each faculty member on the list and see what kind of research and projects they are conducting. Make a list of which topics excite you and send an email to each faculty member individually expressing your interest in their research and desire to meet with them to discuss it further. When you meet with the researcher, make sure to be specific; discuss a particular project of theirs that you find intriguing and how it aligns to your passions, studies, future endeavors, or career path. Express your eagerness in getting involved with their type of research and see if they have any open positions or if they need assistance in any capacity. If you are wondering, you can most definitely do this during your first year at college!
Another common way to get involved in research is through current and past professors. A myriad of professors conduct research at their university. At the end of the semester, when you have developed a rapport with your professor, meet with them to discuss their research. A wise idea would be to connect what you have learned in their class to their current research and express how you would like to continue to engage with this topic in a more hands on approach. If your professor does not conduct research, perhaps they know of others who conduct research in that particular field and could connect you with ways to become involved.
Furthermore, research is not confined to your college! Locate nearby universities and companies that may conduct research, especially if you are attending college in a city. Many students engage with research at local hospitals, labs, and research centers that are in close proximity to their campus. Another way to become involved is through internships and summer opportunities. Companies and research organizations know that college students are looking for ways to spend their summer break and usually offer internships and volunteer opportunities where you can engage with research.
I am fortunate to have been able to conduct research at my college in a nutrition-based biology lab and through various summer internships. If you put in the effort, I am confident you can find ways to get involved in research. If you want more advice or want to discuss anything research related, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be more than happy to help!