Whether you work as a faculty research assistant or pursue your own independent project, research is an excellent way to develop new skills, build your professional network, and gain valuable experience for your resume. If you intend to apply for competitive graduate programs, research experience is essential. Many employers outside of academia will also value the skills you have gained through research.
Career Advancement can help you find research opportunities and secure funding for your own projects. Make an appointment with a career adviser to discuss your interests in-depth. You are also highly encouraged to meet with your College Adviser and faculty members working in your field of interest to discuss potential research opportunities.
Finding a Research Opportunity
The best ways to find a research opportunity are to apply for posted positions or to contact a faculty member whose research interests you and ask if you can get involved with their projects.
Searching for Posted Research Positions
On-campus research opportunities are posted on UChicago Handshake. To view these positions:
2. Click “Jobs” under “Explore” on the lefthand side of your screen
3. Under “Job Type,” select “On-Campus Student Employment”
4. Browse the positions and click on any that interest you; you can use the search bar to search for particular types of opportunities (e.g., “research assistant,” “biology,” etc.)
5. If you’re interested in applying for a position, click the green “Apply Now!” button to upload your resume and cover letter
6. We highly recommend having your application materials reviewed by a Career Advancement adviser. Schedule an appointment with a career adviser through UChicago Handshake
Contacting Faculty for Research Opportunities
You can also get involved with research by reaching out to faculty members to discuss whether you can collaborate with them. Below are some suggestions for identifying and contacting faculty:
1. Explore your interests. What do you want to research? Are you hoping to gain any particular skills or understand a particular topic better?
2. Identify faculty who are working on projects that interest you. If possible, try to get a “warm lead.” Talk to your professors, your teaching assistants, your department’s director of undergraduate studies, your College Adviser, and your peers who are already participating in research for suggestions on which faculty members might be a good fit for your interests.
3. If you can’t get a warm lead, another great strategy is to browse faculty profiles on departmental websites and review the list of UChicago research institutes to find faculty who are working on projects that match with your research interests.
4. When you’re ready to contact a faculty member, send them a brief, polite e-mail. Introduce yourself, explain your interest in their research, and request an in-person meeting to discuss the possibility of working with them as a research assistant.
5. Don’t be discouraged if the faculty member isn’t able to take you on. Ask if they have any suggestions for colleagues who might be willing to work with you.
Make an appointment with a Career Advancement adviser if you need assistance at any stage of this process.
Funding for Unpaid Research Opportunities
Career Advancement offers several grant programs for students who are working as an unpaid faculty research assistant or who are interested in funding their own independent research project:
1. The Liew Family College Research Fellows Fund provides grants for academic-year research assistantships with UChicago faculty members
2. The College Summer Research Fellows Fund funds summer research projects for second- and third-year students who have a strong interest in pursuing a Ph.D in a liberal arts or sciences discipline.
3. The PRISM Research Grant supports independent summer research for students in particular majors.
4. The Seidel Scholars PRISM Grant provides funding for innovative and unconventional professional experiences that are connected to a student’s major and career interests.
5. The College Research Fellows Program provides faculty members with funding to hire undergraduate research assistants. Students cannot apply to this program directly, but they should encourage their faculty supervisors to apply!
Students are also encouraged to browse academic department websites and the Center for Scholarly Advancement fellowships database for more research grant opportunities.