Many students are drawn to participate in a research project in some form during their undergraduate career, whether it be bench work, clinical research, laboratory tests, etc. It is an invaluable way to learn more about a field of study that you’re interested in while directly participating in active data collection. There is no shortage of opportunities available to undergraduates of all levels at U of M; the issue, therefore, becomes finding the best research project for your interests, availability, and form of compensation. In this upcoming series of blogs, we will cover each of these topics.
There are a couple of ways on campus you can get involved with research. Many departments list laboratories and their staff along with contact information on their departmental websites or hang flyers in academic buildings to recruit student involvement. There is no harm in emailing those overseeing a project to inquire about potential research involvement, and it’s usually best to send a succinct, professional note for this purpose, as the individuals running these projects can often be very busy. If they have openings, project managers will typically direct you to whom you can send your cover letter and resume. If they are fully staffed, they may graciously offer to send these documents to other researchers in similar areas of study.
Another way is UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program). UROP is a full-year program dedicated to guaranteeing undergraduates a research opportunity in their first few years of college. The application comes out around February if you are interested in applying, and there are three different ways you can participate: first years apply to the general UROP, second years apply to Research Scholars through UROP, and transfer sophomores or juniors apply to Changing Gears. Once you are accepted, you must commit to 6-12 hours a week spent on research, depending on how many credits you are looking to receive on your transcript. If you are eligible for work-study, you can get paid for doing research through UROP and decide how many hours you would like to do. UROP also requires you to attend weekly seminars that investigate a series of topics relating to research (e.g. networking, cover letter, resume, research ethics) and a final presentation at the UROP symposium about your research.
Another great source of information comes from your classes: study group leaders, peers in your classes, TAs, GSIs, lecturers, and professors alike are all great people to ask about research in a particular field of study. Oftentimes, GSIs will introduce themselves during your first session by explaining what research they conduct and invite students to ask them about it outside of class. This is not only a great way to find research, but it’s also a great connection to make in your professional network. Similarly, attending your instructor’s office hours and inquiring about research in the subject on campus can give you insight into the broad range of positions available in your area of interest, and your instructor can potentially vouch for you to a colleague.
Instead of UROP, you can find your own independent research project. This can allow you to avoid the additional assignments that UROP requires. Allows you to work in a lab that is relevant to your field of study. To begin searching for research go to your department’s website and click on the research tab and then select find Principal Investigators.
Can also find research positions on the University of Michigan Student Employment website
Students can find information about research laboratories on campus from a variety of sources.
Hello, Dr. [PROFESSOR’S LAST NAME],
My name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a [YEAR] at the University of Michigan for the 2018-19 school year. I would like to apply for the research assistant position at [LOCATION OR DEPARTMENT].
I am interested in this position because [REASONS FOR INTEREST]. From my previous research and leadership experience, I have [TALK ABOUT YOUR PREVIOUS EXPERIENCES AND THE SKILLS YOU HAVE GAINED].
I have attached my resume to this email [MAKE SURE YOU DO THIS], and will be able to start working [TIME FRAME].
I look forward to hearing from you soon! Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
Thank you very much for your consideration,
Good luck with your search, and stay tuned for our next post, where we will discuss different research environments and topics!
“Oftentimes, GSIs will introduce themselves during your first session by explaining what research they conduct and invite students to ask them about it outside of class. This is not only a great way to find research, but it’s also a great connection to make in your professional network.”