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Find a Mentor

Undergraduate research is faculty mentored, so an important part of the process is identifying what professors you should work with to conduct your project.

The Center for Undergraduate Research is currently building a search function that will help you find faculty research interests quickly and easily, so please return to this page at a later date.

To Prepare

The first step is identifying faculty who are working in your field and whose research interests you.

Faculty biographies are a good starting point for learning about their past and current projects. Many profiles include links to CVs that will provide more information on what your potential mentors have worked on in the past. On any AU webpage, go to the search bar, select the Faculty/Staff Directory, and type either a faculty name or a department. For example, searching for “History” in the faculty directory will return a list of all History department faculty. Using the directory requires knowledge of how AU is organized administratively. For example, a search for "journalism" will come up empty, so use "SOC" instead.

You can also use the AU Experts page, and use the media relations database by typing in any field. The results will produce a list of faculty. Click on their name to see what interests they list. Be aware that the database lists only those faculty interested in answering random media requests. Many faculty choose not to list themselves in the database.

Once you’ve identified some potential mentors, reach out to them to schedule an appointment to discuss your research interests. Be prepared going into the meeting with a firm idea of what you want to accomplish. You do not need a finalized proposal, but it will be beneficial to both you and the faculty to have an idea of where you want your research to go.

You should also familiarize yourself with your potential mentor’s research. In addition to reading their profile, take some time to read through articles they’ve published.

Be prepared to share your resume/CV, so make sure it’s up to date.

Meeting with a mentor

The meetings you schedule with potential faculty mentors allow both you and the faculty to learn something about the other person. You want to convey your interests as well as gauge whether they are the right mentor for you. Discuss your own research interests, but also ask questions about their work. If there is an opportunity for you to work with a particular mentor, don’t be afraid to ask about the sort of work you’d be expected to do with them.

If you’re having trouble with these meetings, here are a few questions you might ask:

What are your research interests?

How did you develop your research interests and the questions you work to answer?

When should an undergraduate start thinking about research in your discipline?

Are there any courses that I should take or experiences/skills I should have before I start research in your discipline?

Could I meet with you in the future to talk more about possible research opportunities?

Following Up

After your meeting, it’s a good idea to send a brief thank you note to show your appreciation for their time and, if appropriate, to reinforce your interest if there is a research position.

Consider your options carefully and keep in mind your personal interests and the research you’d like to conduct.