How to Find and Get Involved with Research Projects

Can anyone give some advice on where I can find research projects to get involved with?

When I was an undergrad and wanted to get involved in research I did the following:

  • sat down and thought what kind of research would interest me (really broadly: psychology, microbiology, biochemistry, behavioral studies etc.)

  • spent hours browsing the departmental websites of my university;

  • I found some faculty with active research that ‘agreed’ with my preferences

  • I e-mailed them and asked if I could get involved…

    This is how I got my first research behind my belt (Alzheimer’s research in biopsych department; read: taking care of rats and mice at the beginning and designing and running behavioral tests later).

    My second research was actually more advanced and in different area: vaccine development; I got involved ‘by accident’. I took this elective class on vaccines and one night I stayed after class to ask the professor something. We chatted for a while and somehow it came up in the conversation that I could get involved in his lab; the lab was in a research institute, not at the university.

    I guess the short answer to your question is: NETWORKING!

    Hope it helps,


    ps. I just saw that you’re in MD. My second research project was in Walter Reed’s which is quite close to you! Try to look at their website. I know they used to have some positions listed on their website!

Are you currently enrolled in school?

If so, it will be much easier.

  1. Ask your teachers/advisors for suggestions.

    2)Email professors in areas that interest you and explain that you are interested in getting your feet wet in the lab, and could you meet with them to discuss their research. If you are willing to donate your time, most will be more than willing to use it.

  2. If noone responds, go knock on open doors in the department-although I would try to know what that specific professors research is about before just showing up.

  3. If you are having no luck with that route, try the graduate students. When I was a graduate student, I was more than happy to have an extra set of hands. The graduate students have more time to chit chat with you about research and can help to get you that “in” with the professors.

    If you are not currently enrolled, it may be tougher. I know at my graduate school, we couldn’t let anyone in the lab who wasn’t a student or faculty for “insurance” reasons. You could still try the same methods though…