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Finding Research Opportunities

Here are some things to consider as you look for research opportunities.

What are your interests, goals, skills, and availability?

  • Have you successfully completed the necessary pre-requisite coursework (Psych 3313 and Neuro 3000)?
  • Do you have time to devote to research this term?
  • Can you afford time away from studying for your other classes?
  • Can you commit to more than one term? Many professors want a student that plans to stay in the lab for multiple terms, since it can take awhile for you to get trained on things you need to know.
  • In what area of research are you interested? How will your research apply to your future career goals?
  • Do you have any of your own research ideas? Are there professors at Ohio State that are researching something similar to your ideas?
  • What sort of skills do you already have? What laboratory courses have you taken? Which advanced courses in your major have you completed?

How do I find a research project?

  • Explore the research interests of neuroscience faculty at OSU using our people directory and the Neuroscience Graduate Studies Program website
  • Talk to your professors after class or during office hours to see if they have any openings
  • Contact an advisor to discuss opportunities
  • Look at departmental postings in related areas such as Psychology or Molecular Genetics (note that many postings on these pages are not neuroscience-related and, therefore, may not be eligible for major/minor credit).

What is the best way to contact a professor with whom I'm interested in working?

Contacting a professor can be intimidating but remember that all researchers started out as novice undergraduates, just like you!  

  • Do your homework before contacting professors! You should know about what kind of research a lab does and whether or not they have published recently. Searching Google for information can be helpful as many professors have webpages. PubMed is the database for research publications, so you can read up on specific research a professor has done.
  • If you're hoping to talk to a professor right after class or during office hours, be aware that many professors have busy schedules, so try to keep it brief. You can always follow up via a well-crafted e-mail. Talking to TAs (who are usually graduate students in a professor's lab) can be just as useful since the graduate students are usually the ones who need the hands-on assistance in the lab and they may have a role in hiring undergrads.
  • When you send an e-mail, it should be concise but not overly brief. Professors are busy and will ignore e-mails that have too little information and will be too busy to read an e-mail with too much information. Your first e-mail should indicate basic understanding of the faculty member's research area or a specific project, your reasons for interest in such research, your skills and qualifications and/or willingness to learn, your time commitment availability, and a request to meet to discuss potential opportunities.
  • Prepare a resume. Some professors will not ask for one but many will want to see your past work/volunteer experience as well as any technical skills that you may have (e.g. pipetting, basic lab safety, animal handling, data analysis, etc.). It is best to have one prepared in case they ask for it.
  • Professors want students who are genuinely interested in their research. Avoid contacting faculty about positions unless you think that you will be happy working in their lab.

[pdf] - Some links on this page are to Adobe .pdf files requiring the use of Adobe Reader. If you need these files in a more accessible format, please contact neuroadvising@osu.edu.