Getting Started

Invest time in thinking about how conducting research can complement your academic goals.

Getting involved in undergraduate research is something students should actively pursue after the completion of at least one semester at TU. By focusing on your course work and earning good grades, faculty members will see you as a strong candidate for the rigors of undergraduate research. You should also use your early academic career as an opportunity to learn something new or explore academic disciplines beyond your intended major. 

Many students come to TU with previous interests and some have many interests. Identifying a project and a faculty mentor to pursue these interests are the most important steps towards getting involved with undergraduate research.

“ Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. ”

Zora Neal Hurston

identifying a project

  • Determine a topic that matters to you. Think about the kind of material do you get lost in? If there are several areas of interest, can you narrow it down? 
  • Read TU Newsroom articles about recent faculty and student accomplishments.
  • Visit the Office of Sponsored Programs & Research to see what faculty projects have received funding.
  • Regularly check the TU Master Events Calendar for speakers, symposia and seminars focusing on topics or research projects that interest you. 
  • Review course descriptions in the Undergraduate Catalog to get an idea of a subject matter that catches your interest.
  • Every subject or major on campus has a librarian who can help with your research and academic interests. You librarian can also assist you with class projects or meet with you for in-depth help.

identifying a faculty mentor

Finding the right faculty mentor is critical to your sustained interest, development, and completion of your research project. Faculty mentors guide you through your project. They provide direction, design, and critique assistance, when needed, until you complete your project.

  • Consider a faculty member you've had for a prior class.
  • Meet with the chairperson of the department where you'd like to conduct research for faculty mentor suggestions.
  • Visit academic department websites to learn more about faculty research interests, projects and publications.
  • Read articles written by professors whose research appeals to you. This will help you decide if you want to meet the professor and it will make a good impression if you meet with the professor later.
  • Talk to fellow students about which faculty are doing research in your area of interest, and what mentors you may work well with. The Undergraduate Research Club is a great place to start.

Contacting a Faculty Member

The way in which you communicate and present yourself when communicating to your professors is extremely important. When you write or speak to a professor, you should view it as a professional exchange. How you choose to interact conveys your level of seriousness and professionalism. As with any professional interaction, it is in your best interest to be respectful, polite, and courteous when communicating with professors.

  • Use your TU email address when writing to a faculty member.  Be sure to utilize proper email etiquette when writing the subject line and body of the message.
  • Make the purpose of your meeting clear at the time you arrange an appointment.
  • Make arrangements according to the professor's preference. You may need to arrange the appointment via a staff support person, but don't let this discourage you.
  • Be prepared to meet with the professor during their office hours.
  • Arrive on time for your meeting.
  • Be enthusiastic and interested in what they do. You should be able to clearly explain why you are interested in their work.
  • Bring a CV/resume to the meeting. Go to the Career Center for assistance with preparing your CV/resume and to ensure that it is properly formatted and error-free. Also include a list of references (e.g. professor, former employer).
  • Bring an unofficial copy of your transcript (located in your Student Center) to show that you've taken appropriate or relevant classes.