How Do I Get Started in Research?

One major perk of being a Stanford student is that you will have opportunities to do original research with the Stanford faculty. Faculty across the university are engaged in research, and if you are interested in joining them in their pursuit, it will be up to you to get the ball rolling. First, think about what you might like to delve into and why. Are you interested in Molecular Biology, Astrophysics, Art History, Anthropology or some other particular discipline? Have you taken a course that leaves you wondering about an unanswered question? Did an IntroSem or seminar series or extracurricular experience inspire you?

Find Faculty

Once you have selected a topic of interest, find out which faculty are working on that topic:

  • Visit the department webpage for departments most closely related to your topic of interest. Take a look at the Faculty Profiles to find information about the research interests of the faculty associated with these departments.
  • Visit the Student Services Officer in the departments most closely related to your topic of interest. These departmental advisors can talk with you about your interests and try to help you identify one or more faculty whose research you may want to learn more about.

Once you have identified the faculty whose research most interests you, visit their office hours or send them an email to request a meeting for further conversation about their research interests and your own.

Research Opportunities

In addition, look out for advertised research opportunities. Postings during the year often are relatively informal, circulated by email, and looking for only one or two students for part-time work. For the summer, many departments and centers, particularly the ones listed as receiving VPUE funding, will have a research program that hires dozens of students for full-time summer work. Winter quarter will be the most active quarter for summer research program deadlines.

If you’re not sure how to go about this at any step, go talk with your Academic Advising Director! They work with students at all steps to help them identify faculty and future mentors, think about how to start the conversation, and more. They are also good people to turn to when interested in getting funding for an independent project.

See Also