Finding a Research Project and Mentor
Many research opportunities are available to you at UCLA. Please see below for tips on finding a research project and mentor. We encourage you to attend our SRP workshops or to contact us if you have questions or would like help with finding a project or mentor.
Determine Your Research Interests
We recommend that you begin by brainstorming topics or areas of research that you find interesting. You might consider:
- Making a list of topics you've found interesting in your coursework
- Thinking about issues or questions that interest you in your spare time
- Reading academic journal articles in your major or an area of interest
- Looking at the faculty profiles on UCLA departmental websites to learn more about faculty research projects
Identify Potential Research Projects and Mentors
Research projects can either be faculty-initiated or self-initiated—you might help a faculty member with his or her research, or a faculty mentor might guide you on a research project of your own creation.
Working on a faculty-initiated project gives you the chance to help a faculty member on his or her research project. A great resource for finding faculty-initiated projects is the Undergraduate Research Portal, which lists various open SRP research projects. In addition, you could ask your professors and TAs about available research opportunities.
Working on a self-initiated project gives you the chance to pursue a project of your own design under the guidance of a faculty mentor. One route to finding a faculty mentor is to consider faculty with whom you have taken a course in your area of interest. Another route is to look at individual faculty biographies on UCLA departmental websites in order to identify faculty who are conducting research in your proposed area. We recommend that you identify several potential faculty mentors to whom you could propose your project.
Before contacting potential faculty mentors, try familiarizing yourself with their most recent publications. If a potential faculty mentor has written a recent book, consider checking it out of the library. If a potential mentor has recent articles, try finding them through UCLA library databases.
Who is eligible to serve as an SRP (Course 99) mentor? Faculty who hold teaching positions at UCLA (including in the professional schools) are eligible to serve as research mentors for SRP 99 courses. Graduate students and post-docs can help supervise SRP projects, but you will still need a faculty mentor.
Contacting Potential Faculty Mentors
Send a clear and concise email to your potential faculty mentor with the following points:
- Name and major/department affiliation
- Purpose for contacting them (i.e. research as an SRP 99 student)
- Why their research interests you and how your research interests relate to their work
- Your contact information (email, phone)
Click here for sample e-mails regarding assisting with a faculty project, working on a project you initiated, or responding to an SRP position posting (as posted on the Undergraduate Research Portal).
As an attachment to your email, include your curriculum vitae (CV). A CV is similar to a resume, but is specific to your academic career. Be sure to include on your CV:
- Relevant coursework and skills (including language and computer skills)
- Work and leadership experience
- Honors, awards, and distinctions
Click here for a sample CV. You can find additional resources for writing your CV on the Career Center website or at the Undergraduate Research Center (Murphy Hall A334).
When you contact a potential mentor, you may find that he/she is unable to advise your project, which may be due to a variety of circumstances and unrelated to your background and experiences. In such a case, graciously thank the potential mentor for his/her time.
You and your potential mentor may arrange an interview or meeting to discuss the potential SRP project. Make sure you are on time for the interview or meeting, bring your CV along, and prepare possible research topics and questions.
Once a faculty member agrees to mentor your research, the next step is the SRP 99 contract, due by Friday of the second week of each quarter (by 4:30pm in Murphy Hall A334).