Getting Started in Research
Check out the OUB's guide to exploring research at Cornell!
Don't rush to find a research position. Give yourself some time to be successful academically before committing to a lab. You do not need previous research experience to get started in a lab. Plan a semester ahead and arrange your schedule so that you have 2-4 hour blocks of time free to spend in the lab at least 2 days per week. Give yourself plenty of time to network in advance of when you would like to begin research. Talk with your professors, TAs, and student advisors to discover your passion in the life sciences. Use the OUB searchable Research Faculty Database to identify labs of interest and keep an eye on your email to learn about programs supporting research including an annual fall information session hosted by the Biology Student Advisors on getting started in research. Additional helpful resources are the Cornell Undergraduate Research Board (CURB) and the Office of Undergraduate Research.
Funding Your Research
Research funding can open the door to new opportunities: a summer research position, conference travel, and the freedom to ask new, exciting questions. Search our database of grants and fellowships from Cornell and beyond that support undergraduate research by funding equipment and supplies, conference travel, and salary or stipends. This list is not exclusive and other opportunities may be available depending on your research area. Be sure to work with your research mentor when applying for grants!
Beyond the Basics...Developing as an Undergraduate Researcher
There are numerous opportunities at Cornell to develop your skills as a scientist outside the lab. This guide from the Cornell Libraries is designed for undergraduate researchers in biological sciences and offers advice on literature searching, citation management, data management, and more! Discover how to analyze and manage datasets in workshops from the Cornell Statistical Consulting Unit and from the best practices suggested by the Research Data Management Service Group. Learn to discuss your research and other complex issues with scientists and non-scientists in science communication courses. Join the Cornell Undergraduate Research Board (CURB), take advantage of their workshops, and present your work at the CURB forums. Attend departmental seminars to learn about current research from around the world (check individual department web sites for dates and times).
If your academic year is too busy for research, summer is a great time to explore different fields that you may be interested in. Summer allows you to immerse yourself in the research experience without the juggle of classes and exams. Check out the Summer Research Opportunities database if you are interested in applying for an internship or REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program. Keep in mind that many summer internship programs have application deadlines in January and February and require letters of reference. If you want to do research here on campus in the summer, begin looking in March though some lab groups do not advertise until late in spring semester. Some paid summer research positions will be advertised on the Student Employment website (see below) or by word of mouth. Inquire in the OUB about lab openings and look for flyers advertising positions posted in biology buildings.
Finding a Research Job
Paid research opportunities may be found on the Student Employment website. Research jobs are available during the academic year and in summer. Students may earn their work study funding by working in a lab. Inquire in the OUB about lab openings and look for flyers advertising positions posted in biology buildings.
Some labs depend on volunteer assistance. This can be an advantage because you can start anytime and do not need to worry about adding research credits by the Add Deadline. If you spend a semester volunteering in a lab, you can discuss with your faculty mentor about enrolling in BIOG 4990 in the following semester.