Finding undergrad research opportunities

The best way to get involved in research is to talk to professors, advisers, and administrative staff in your area of interest. Follow the links for more information about opportunities in these areas.

Tips for contacting researchers

Be respectful in your approach to faculty members by being prepared in advance. Keep these tips in mind when contacting researchers in the Faculty of Science, other faculties at McGill (Medicine, Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, Arts, Engineering, etc.), or external institutions (hospitals, research institutions, other universities, etc.).

  • Read about their research on their websites. You might scan the abstracts from their recent publications. You can ask a librarian for help finding these.
  • Contact professors during their office hours or via email (but do not send a general email to a whole list of professors).
  • When you introduce yourself, discuss your interests, qualifications (relevant coursework, past experience), and expectations. Have your résumé and transcripts ready.
  • Your letter (or conversation) should demonstrate familiarity with the professor's research area, and express why you want to be a part of this particular professor's research. Most professors like working with undergraduates, but they cannot say yes to everyone who asks; make it easy for them to choose you.
  • You may want to talk to other students who have worked with the professor.
  • When and where possible, consider talking with professors instead of emailing.
    • Professors get lots of email. It is easy to overlook an email message.
    • You can go deeper in a face-to-face conversation, and can sometimes turn a "no" into a more useful answer.
    • If a professor says his or her lab is full, if you are talking rather than emailing, you might follow up with questions like:
      • When would be a good time to come back and ask again?
      • What do you look for?
      • Are there particular skills I should cultivate or courses I should take first?
  • If you use email to contact a professor, or indeed anyone, make sure your message is polite and to-the-point. Here are some great email resources from McGill's Teaching and Learning Services.
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