Below are some of our most frequently asked questions.
- I’ve been interested in getting involved in research for a while now, but I’m not sure how to go about finding a lab to volunteer in. Where do I start?
- I’ve heard the best way to find a lab to volunteer in is to email faculty members who do research I’m interested in. What should I say in these emails/how should they sound?
- Are there any classes I need to take before being able to volunteer in a research lab?
- How much time does research take? Can I still take 12+ credits while I do it?
I've been interested in getting involved in research for a while now, but I’m not sure how to go about finding a lab to volunteer in. Where do I start?
Finding a good research position can be difficult. The following resources are good places to start.
Go here to see how to start: http://cur.aa.ufl.edu/finding-a-research-project.aspx
To search the list of projects looking for assistance, go to: http://bit.ly/ufresearchdatabase.
To search for researchers in your field, go to: http://cur.aa.ufl.edu/undergraduate-research-database.aspx.
Another option to find a suitable research position is by emailing professors you may have had a class with or that have research interests similar to your own. Typically, undergraduates will assist professors with projects they are already working on. After spending some time in the lab (typically 6-12 months) it may be appropriate to bring up doing an independent project of your own (which can be one of your ideas, or something the professor was already planning).
I’ve heard the best way to find a lab to volunteer in is to email faculty members who do research I’m interested in. What should I say in these emails/how should they sound?
When emailing faculty members, there are a few things you can do that will increase your chances of gaining a faculty member’s interest in having you as a member of their research team. First, try and show a genuine interest in the lab's topic(s) of research, and be sure to know about their current research. Make sure you get across that you're willing to help out in any way they need, and that you're very eager to learn. Lastly, include a little information about your education (keep it simple, just major, year, and future aspirations), and thank them for their consideration. Researchers are typically very busy people, so they will likely respond at their own convenience.
Are there any classes I need to take before being able to volunteer in a research lab?
Research labs vary in the requirements they request of new volunteers or research assistants. Some labs may specify prerequisite courses or prior research experience which may restrict who they allow to work/volunteer in their lab. You'll find that the majority of labs are just looking for motivated and eager undergraduate students willing to work hard and learn new things!
How much time does research take? Can I still take 12+ credits while I do it?
How much time you spend in the lab is completely up to you, so long as you and the professor you are assisting have clear expectations. Being a full-time student at 12-15 credit hours is not hard at all if you want to spend 5-10 hours a week in the lab. If you'd like to give more focus to research, it's still possible to spend 30 hours in the lab at 12 credits (but this is probably towards the extreme end of the scale). Where you'd feel most comfortable really depends on your personal time preferences.
Managing the two schedules can be anywhere from very easy to fairly difficult. It depends on what responsibilities you have in the lab. Some students volunteer in labs while having no strict schedule or obligation; they just show up in the lab whenever they have time. This is usually the case when the student is mostly just observing lab activities and learning from them. Other students have dedicated schedules where the professor expects them to be there at that specific time, usually to complete certain tasks or to simply help other researchers with theirs. Finally, some other students simply have a finite number of duties to fulfill in their labs, and they can come and go whenever they please, so long as they get all their work done. Like I said before, it all depends on the specific activities going on in that lab, which you will not know until you discuss this with the supervising professor.