Explore your research interests
- Think about your favorite classes. What about these classes did you like?
- What research would help you achieve your career goals?
- What skills and knowledge are you wanting to develop?
Connect with a faculty member
- Do your homework and see what research is being conducted on campus. Tip: Don't limit
your search to your major department. There are likely professors in different departments
that have research interests that closely match your own.
- Browse MSU faculty publications at lib.montana.edu, or contact the Renne Library Research Center located in the South Side of the library
- You can also browse departmental faculty pages on the MSU website. Many faculty members
will provide links to their recent publications and lab wesite.
- Once you've narrowed your search, contact a potential mentor
- Write a professional email expressing your interest in working with them
- Articulate why you're interested in their research specifically. Consider mentioning
a paper they've published, or the focus of their research lab.
- Specify your research goals, both generally and practically. Let your potential mentor
know how much time you are willing to devote to a research project.
- Keep your email brief and to the point. Professors are busy and receive many emails,
so they will appreciate your conciseness.
- Professors have busy schedules, so don't be discouraged if you don't hear back right
away. If they don't get back to you within a few weeks, you can send a respectful
email to remind them of your original message.
- If the faculty member is considering working with you, they might decide to schedule
an in-person meeting to discuss project goals further.
- Come to the meeting on time and prepared. Again, do you homework. Familiarize yourself
with their research publications before you sit down with them. This will convey initiative
and help you appear knowledgeable.
Tips for success
- Your first idea might not pan out, and that's okay. Be persistent, and you'll find
an undergraduate research opportunity that's right for you.
- Take smaller opportunities as they come. You might have to work in a lab on campus
part-time before a faculty member chooses to mentor you.
- Keep building experience. This will help you move up within your field and will also
allow for more rewarding research opportunities to come your way.
Fund your independent research project
- Learn about undergraduate research funding opportunities here.
- Read about how to write your research funding proposal here.