All pre-health students are encouraged to participate in a research project! For students who envision a career with research involved, gaining research experience prior to professional school is important. Participating in research allows students to understand the research process, including conducting research, data collection, grants, writing papers, working on a team, and more.


Step 1: Discover your Passions

  • Being a part of a research team allows you to be at the forefront of learning new material and making new discoveries! It is important to be a part of a lab or project in which you are truly interested in the material. Use your time in classes and extracurricular activities to see what really sparks your interest so that you can be fully engaged in the research in which you take part. It is important to note that your research does not have to be medical or health-related!

Step 2: Find a Research Lab/Project

  • For some students, this can be the most difficult part of the research process; however, consistency and determination will allow you to succeed in finding a lab that is right for you.
  • Most universities have a site for undergraduate research opportunities. Navigate this site to explore research projects and faculty. Take into account whether it is a paid or unpaid role, the weekly time commitment, and take note of if there is a possible publication opportunity!
  • When you find a list of projects that interest you, email the labs! Ideally, if using an undergraduate research website affiliated with an institution, an email address would be provided. If this is not the case, use Google to search the research title and name of the Principal Investigator (PI), and hopefully you can find their email from there.
  • Another great way to find a research lab is to look through websites for the departments/specialties in which you are interested! For example, if you are passionate about nutrition, visit to the Nutritional Sciences Department website to explore research labs. Viewing the faculty directory might also provide you with information regarding professionals who commonly conduct research – if you find their past research interesting, send them an email to ask if they are currently working on a project!

Every research project is different! Some research might require you to go to an in-person lab multiple times a week, while other projects might not require you to go to a physical location. Some projects require weekly meetings, while others are more flexible with meetings. Find a project that aligns well with your interests and your schedule!

Step 3: Send Emails and Follow Up

research lab

Once you’ve gathered email addresses for research projects, it’s time to send concise emails!

Very concisely (three to five sentences), introduce yourself and your reason for contacting the professional. You can briefly mention that their research or field is of interest to you, and you are interested in learning more about the research they conduct and any current research opportunities available to undergraduate students.

To keep the email short but include valuable information about yourself and your experiences that professionals may be seeking, plan to attach a Curriculum Vitae (CV). A CV is similar to a resumé, but instead of focusing on work experiences, it focuses on academic experiences. More information about writing a CV can be found here.

If you reach out to professionals and you don’t hear back within 1-2 weeks, send a follow up email as a reply to your initial email. Most professionals are busy – they may have skimmed past your email or they may have not had a chance to reply to emails. We recommend sending one maybe two follow up emails in the span of one month. If you don’t receive a response at that point, don’t get discouraged! New research projects being started often, so do some more exploring to find additional projects that interest you.