Define Your Research Interests

What courses have you enjoyed? What questions or issues in your field interest you? What are your goals for your research experience? Knowing the type of research you want to do and understanding the environment in which you’d like to conduct your research are essential for finding the right faculty advisor. Consider watching research presentations from past undergraduate researchers and review department websites to learn more about current research taking place.

Identify prospective faculty research advisor

Faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are actively engaged in research. To discover research opportunities:

  • Contact a professor from a class you’ve enjoyed taking. Professors often research in the same area as the courses they teach.
  • Ask for recommendations. Make an appointment with your academic advisor or ask other professors, graduate students, and current undergraduate researchers in your department or field.
  • Check out the UCARE list of current opportunities.
  • Read about faculty research on the web, including the Office of Research & Economic Development web site and the Graduate Program Profiles on the Office of Graduate Studies web site. Once you select an area of interest, scroll to the bottom of the Program Profile. There you’ll find a listing of department faculty and their research areas.

Don’t limit your research opportunities to your major! Students in the history department might research with a modern language professor, or a Biological Systems Engineering undergrad could research with a biochemistry professor.

Meeting with a potential faculty research advisor

Send an introductory email to the potential faculty research advisor with your goals and your knowledge of the topic and the professor’s research. If you’ve had research experience, describe the work you’ve done and with whom and let the faculty member know you’d like to meet to discuss their research and the possibility of joining their research team.

Once you’ve scheduled an appointment, be sure to bring:

  • A resume;
  • A brief write-up of your research interests and the skills you are developing or would like to develop;
  • A list of relevant courses that you’ve taken;
  • A notebook and pen.

If you know you’d like to go to graduate school and study X, share this with your potential mentor. If he or she isn’t a match, you might get an excellent recommendation to meet with another person.

Be prepared and show interest. Taking notes shows that you’re engaged with what the faculty member is saying, and you’ll be ready to jot down any names or other recommendations.

Meeting Follow Up

Immediately after this meeting—and any future meetings—with your faculty advisor, send an email thanking the professor for meeting with you and include a brief summary of your discussion (focus of research project, what you can bring to his/her research, and other items you may have discussed).

Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to do your best on both course work and research. Make sure that the advisor is committed to supervising you as much as you are committed to doing the required research.