Tips on finding a faculty mentor for a research opportunity
CPHHS Office of Research
Go to Research Projects, Programs and Laboratories to locate a research project or laboratory that interests you and then view the webpages of the professors associated with that research program.
Reach out to a professor to let them know that you are interested in their research and would like them to consider being your faculty research mentor. Request a meeting to discuss this proposal in one of several ways:
Whatever method you use, be sure to share what sparked your interest in their research and how it aligns with your interests and goals. You do not have to be an expert in their research area or have confirmed your career direction. Show genuine curiosity, demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about their research, and indicate that you want to know more.
Meet with the potential faculty member.
So you have a meeting, now what?
Prepare some questions in advance. What led them to their current research focus? What are important findings have they discovered and how will these findings improve human health and well-being? What has been rewarding and challenging?
Bring a CV or résumé to your meeting and be prepared to talk about yourself. Why are you interested in this research area? Do you have any previous experiences or skills you can offer? Express how you will benefit from the professor’s mentorship.
Ask the professor for advice and next steps. Are there opportunities for you to assist on their projects or in their laboratory? They also may suggest alternatives, such as meeting with different faculty member who might be a better match for your interests.
Always follow up with a short email of thanks. Let the faculty know that you appreciate the time they took to meet with you and thank them for any specific advice they shared with you. Confirm any next steps that the two of you discussed. Do this even if the professor did not have any openings at this time. You want to leave a positive impression in case an opportunity opens up later.
Benefits of participating in a research project
Most students will volunteer their time to assist with research and document the experience on their resume.
Volunteering might also result in a letter of recommendation from a faculty member.
You can register for research credits if a faculty member is willing to serve as the instructor of record. You and the faculty member would agree to learning outcomes, the number of credits, timelines, tasks you would complete, and how you would be assessed. Such credits can sometimes be used to satisfy degree requirements, so ask your academic advisor if this is a possibility. Research and scholarship courses in the college include: H 201, H 401, H 501, HDFS 101, HDFS 401, HDFS 501, KIN 201, KIN 301, KIN 401, KIN 501, NUTR 201, NUTR 401, NUTR 501, and NUTR 601.
OSU recognizes significant engagement and accomplishment in undergraduate research by awarding an honor distinction of “Research Fellow” to students in any major upon completion of a significant research project under mentorship of an OSU faculty mentor. The distinction will be noted on the student’s transcript, and the student may wear a blue honor cord at graduation ceremonies.
Faculty can sometimes fund students with money from grants. In addition, certain OSU research programs offer monetary awards for participating students such as LIFE Scholars and URSA Engage. Finally, students in the Honors College can apply for an Honors Experiential Award to support the completion of their Honors College thesis research project.
Gretchen Dursch, MA
Research Program Coordinator
College of Public Health and Human Sciences