Getting Involved in Research
We're here to help you find the right opportunity to pursue your interest in research projects as an undergraduate student.
Use Your Network to Gather Information
- Ask peers who already have mentors or are working in research labs for advice on how to get involved in research.
- Talk to graduate students in your department.
- Talk to professors you have or had courses with; they may have information about opportunities to join their research group or another professor’s group.
Identify Professors Whose Research Aligns With Your Interest
- Review our Faculty Research Matrices to know professors’ research interests and areas of expertise.
- Get to know the professors in your department/program and visit their research group websites.
- Find out who are their graduate students and postdocs.
- Take note of who to contact about joining the lab.
- Check if there are specific requirements to join the lab (e.g., courses taken, GPA).
Before Contacting a Professor
- Draft a list of what you need to do research (e.g., participate in an undergraduate research program, research topic, graduate mentor, research plan).
- Have an idea of the research area you are interested in.
- List courses you have taken that would be relevant to doing research in your area of interest.
- List the courses you plan to take in the next two semesters (this will help you determine how much time you can commit to research work).
- List your skills that could be useful to the research lab.
Contact Professors About Joining Their Research Groups
- Be professional in your communications with professors.
- Send an email expressing your interest of working in their research group.
- You can also stop by during their office hours. Inform the professor if you are applying to an undergraduate research program.
- Request a meeting.
- Follow-up with an email or a visit to their office if you have not received a reply.
Engineering Research Fair
The Grainger College of Engineering Office of Research and the Undergraduate Programs Office sponsor the Engineering Research Fair every semester. Our goal is to connect you to the research community. Representatives from various research groups, labs, and/or centers present their research and promote research opportunities. This event provides you as an engineering undergraduate student the opportunity to gather information on how to get involved in research, meet people from different research laboratories and undergraduate research programs, and learn more about engineering research.
Undergraduate Research Symposium
The campus-wide Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) hosts Undergraduate Research Week, featuring the Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS) every April. The URS is an opportunity for you to learn about research in different disciplines throughout campus and get to know people who do research in various areas. Undergraduate students across the campus are encouraged to present their research through presentations and posters. Proposal submissions are usually accepted mid-January to mid-February.
Performing research is a huge responsibility. You will be making discoveries, relied on by a team, and your work will both build upon others and be buit upon in the future. Integrity is vital. Not knowing the rules is not an option.
Undergraduate Research Contacts
Natasha Mamaril, PhD
Associate Director for Undergraduate Research
3278 Digital Computer Lab
1304 W Springfield Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801