Getting Started with Research

Best Practices for Obtaining Undergraduate Research Opportunities 

What is the requirement to conduct research?

In the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, any student can undertake undergraduate research independent of major or department.  All you will need is a professor to work with, as they will serve as your research mentor and will facilitate your research project.  Further, this research mentor may be the instructor on your undergraduate research course if you take the course for credit.

How do I find a research mentor?

There are several ways to find a mentor at UGA and these ideas will help you get started:

  • Look at the webpage for departments that you may have an interest in and the individual faculty members’ pages.  They will often have descriptions of their research, or links to webpages with information about their research. 
  • If professors do not have detailed descriptions of the research they are conducting on their webpages, you can use the Web of Science or Google Scholar which can be accessed through our Library’s website to look up recent articles to determine if the research they are doing is of interest to you.
  • Your favorite classes can make a great starting point for identifying professors that are doing research that interests you, so make sure to inquire about their work during the course!
  • Download and search previous symposium presentations to help you find a potential research mentor. 

Contacting the Professor

Once you have found a professor you would like to work with, you will need to set up a meeting to discuss the possibility of doing research with this individual.  In your initial email from your UGA email address, be sure to include the following:

  • A subject line related to the topic (for example, Undergraduate Research Opportunities in Your Lab/Group)
  • Greeting (Good morning/afternoon Professor_____ or Dr. ______)
  • Your name
  • Your year in college and pertinent coursework you have completed
  • Why you are writing (undergraduate research course credit, experience, etc.)
  • The part of their research you are interested in and would like to discuss with them
  • A week’s worth of times that you would be able to meet with the professor, keeping in mind their teaching and office hours
  • Attach a copy of your Curriculum Vitae (CV) or resume

The goal of this email is to set up a meeting to discuss the possibility of working with the professor.  Give them some time to read and respond to the email, but be sure to follow up with them if it has been a week or two.

Meeting with Research Mentors

Once you have set up an appointment with the professor, make sure to be on time and take a copy of your CV or resume to share!  During your meeting, consider covering some of the following topics:

  • Ask the faculty member questions, for example:  Why and how do you do your research?
  • Discuss your goals (learning more about the topic, research methods, instrumentation, going to graduate school, etc.) and how you hope the research will help you achieve them.
  • Discuss time commitments for possible research, and the mentoring style and method the professor has used in the past for students.
  • Depending on your type of research, you may want to ask about the lab or workspace

CAES Undergraduate Research Initiative:  Funding and Symposium

CAES students have the opportunity to apply for funding for undergraduate research through the Undergraduate Research Initiative.  Students will then participate in our research symposium with a presentation of their research.  This is excellent practice in public speaking and great preparation for graduate school or any career where problem-solving and communication skills are important.  All students are encouraged to seek out opportunities for research while they are at UGA.