Start early! Begin your search for a lab the semester before you intend to register. It may take multiple contacts before you can find a lab home. This is especially important if you plan to work in a Texas Medical Center (TMC) lab outside of Rice. You will most likely need to complete various applications, immunization forms and other paperwork as well as undergo any required training before stepping foot in the lab. (In some TMC institutions, it can take 30 days to process completed paperwork.)
There are many research opportunities for Rice undergrads on- and off-campus, and there are many different ways to find a research opportunity. How can you find someone working on something that genuinely interests you?
You've found a few groups that you are interested in learning more about. You may have gotten to this point without talking to a faculty member yet, but that's about to change. This step is intimidating for most of us, so if you're feeling a little unsure at this point that's okay.
If you read through some of our undergraduate research profiles, you'll see that there are many different ways that students connect with their research mentor. Some were asked by a professor if they were interested in working in their group. Others approached a professor whose class they loved and found a spot that way. Many others followed the general process outlined here and emailed faculty to express their interest in joining their research group.
Getting into a lab is partly timing and luck, so don't get discouraged if your first efforts aren't successful. It's usually necessary to contact several labs, one or two at a time, to find a position.
If you know someone in a lab where you want to work, ask that person to put in a good word for you.
If you are not successful after several attempts, talk to an advisor or research course instructor for feedback on your contact letter.
There are many reasons a professor may not be able to take you on right now. Keep looking! There's a research experience out there that is perfect for you.
You've secured your research position. Now the hard work starts — making a meaningful contribution to science. (This is also the fun part!) This can seem like a daunting task, but here is some advice to help you get started on the path to success in your research.