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Starting a successful research experience

Undergraduate research:
Contact Faculty

Guidelines for reaching out to faculty members about their research


How to contact faculty

As you would when applying for jobs, you will want to contact several faculty members. We recommend reaching out to 5-10 different labs, BUT do your homework!

  1. Identify people or programs that align with your research interests. You don’t have to stay within your department.
  2. Once you identify a lab you are interested in, spend time learning about their research. When the time comes you will sound genuine and well informed.
  3. Start sending emails and take time to read over the Do’s and Don’ts when emailing faculty about their research.

Do's and Don'ts of contacting professors about their research

  • Contact 5-10 faculty members.
  • Address the individual you are emailing by their name (i.e. Professor Brown, Dr. Green).
  • Let them know why you are interested in research.
  • Do your homework! This cannot be stressed enough. Look beyond the field they are working in to learn more about their specific focus. Find out what he/she has recently published and read one of their publications. Use this information to customize your email and express genuine curiosity about their research.
  • Make it easy to schedule a meeting.
  • Follow up if you don’t hear back within a few days (3-5).
  • Send generic emails. Make sure every email you send is personalized; don’t let your message look like a form letter.
  • Forget to proofread.
  • Give up! You may not be successful right away, but keep trying. You may not get a positive response from someone, but it doesn’t always mean you are not qualified. Don’t be afraid to reach out to professors who have turned you down to ask them for suggestions about other people with whom you should be in contact.


Writing your email

To: Professor’s work email address

Subject: Question about something related to their research

  • Introduce yourself – major, year of study, etc. Tell them you are interested in learning more about research broadly, and their research specifically. If you know the faculty member, explain how.
  • State why you are interested in research in general. What are your goals? What are your career interests and how do they relate to research?
  • Indicate you have read about their research, and express particular interest. Talk about what you hope to learn as it relates to something you are interested in or have already learned.
  • Close by asking if they would be willing to meet with you to talk about their research and for advice on how to get involved in research in general.
  • Make it easy to schedule the meeting by listing a few time blocks that work with your schedule. If you feel up to it, you can include a copy of your class schedule below your signature.