Find a Mentor

Remember that many faculty enjoy doing research with undergraduates so don’t be reluctant about approaching them. Here are some suggestions that can help you with this process.

  • Look on Departmental Websites
    Look on different departmental (major/minor/program) websites for lists of faculty members, their research interests, and their recent publications. 
  • Search the U of M Experts Database
    Search through the University of Minnesota Experts database for a mentor doing research in your interest area.
  • Talk to Professors and Grad Students
    Ask your faculty advisor, your professors, or a teaching assistant/grad student for suggestions of faculty members who may be doing research in your interest area.
  • Connect with Your Director of Undergraduate Studies
    Contact the UROP Coordinator for the college where you would like to do your research.
  • Chat with the OUR Staff
    The Office of Undergraduate Research office maintains a database with a list of all the faculty members who have sponsored research projects in the past. Our office is in 511 Bruininks and we welcome students to drop in to discuss how best to get involved. 
  • How to Approach a Faculty Member
    Talking to faculty can sometimes be intimidating. We've created some tips, recommendations, and a sample email to send a faculty member to initiate a conversation about research.

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Sample Email to Send to a Prospective Faculty Mentor

To: [email protected]
From: [email protected] (use your account and not any other email address as Yahoo, Gmail, etc.)

Subject: Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Dear Professor/ Dr. LastNameOfTheMentor (advice: in an academic environment professional titles as Dr. and Professor are preferred to formal titles Mr., Mrs,. Ms., etc.)

My name is (__________) and I am (first/second/etc.) year student at the University of Minnesota. I am interested in (mention your general career interests or specific discipline interests.). I hope to complete a (UROP/URS/IUROP/Directed Research/volunteer) research opportunity. I would like to set up a meeting to discuss your research interests and possible opportunities for mentorship.

[You can continue in this paragraph with any background experience you might have that might be relevant to this research and might attract Mentor’s attention.) I am interested in because (state main reason(s) that attracted you to this scholar. Be concise.)]

I would like to meet with you at your earliest convenience for a half-hour conversation. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

[Your Full Name]

Meeting Tips

  • If you are meeting during a drop-in/office hours appointment, have an introduction and specific inquiry ready before you arrive.
  • Make arrangements with faculty according to their schedule preference, not your own. Be prepared to arrange the date/time via a support staff person or by email. Alternatively, be prepared to stop in during the professor’s office hours.
  • Arrive on time (or early).
  • Be prepared for the conversation by having read previous research by the faculty member.
  • Show enthusiasm and interest in what they do.
  • Be familiar with their CV, papers, student projects they have supervised, and have a sense of what you might want/be able to do to contribute to their research or as a mentor to your own (thesis, independent study, etc).

What might a potential faculty mentor request from me?

  • A curriculum vita or extended academic resume.
  • An unofficial transcript. Present them with a formal, unofficial pdf or hard copy for review. Some research may require the completion of certain courses in advance.
  • References from previous faculty, advisor, and/or employer.
  • Information about previous research experiences you have had, if any, and how you (honestly) assess your skill-level.
  • A sense of the time (hours per week) you have available. This will measure your commitment, to a large degree.
  • A clear idea about why you are interested in their work and, more generally, engaging in research.