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How to contact faculty

Tips for finding a Biology Colloquium Project (Biol 1093) Mentor

First, try to be a little familiar with the faculty member’s research. Most faculty have web sites explaining the basics of their research. Check them out.

You will be able to meet with a faculty member and land a project by using a few simple techniques and strategies. To identify faculty in your field of interest, search the Experts@Minnesota database. Also try searching through the faculty listings of various departments. Most faculty have web sites explaining the basics of their research. Faculty often list undergraduates who have worked in their lab on the website. Also, check out the listings from the U’s Undergraduate Symposium website to look for faculty who have sponsored undergrad research.

Try to become a little familiar with the faculty member’s research by reading the website and even better, by reading one or two papers they have authored.

If your first attempt to make contact is not successful, try, try again. You may need to contact several faculty members before you find one who has space in their lab and can take on a student doing research project. Don’t let a couple of rejections discourage you. Finally, writing a good email inquiry or will help you land a project. Below are a couple of examples that may help you.


What NOT to say in an email


My name is ______ and I am looking for an unpaid lab position to fulfill my biology colloquium project. If you have an opening, please email me back.

Your name

Better approach
  1. First paragraph is about you, your interests, your experiences that led to your interests.
  2. Second paragraph is about the faculty member’s research/career.
  3. In the third paragraph, ask to meet to discuss research. Here you can mention the Biol 1093 research experience course.

Subject: Meeting to discuss your research

Dear Dr. ____________ (Never use Mrs. as a professional title, it is only used socially)

My name is _____ and I am a freshman majoring in ____ in (which college.) My current interests in the field of biology are ____ . If you had an experience that led to this interest, mention it here. My previous experience includes (list relevant high school courses, college courses, work experience).

In reviewing [department website, faculty expert site, etc.], I found your name. I am very interested in your research on _________. I read one your papers on ___ and would like to learn more about your research.

Please let me know if we might meet to discuss work in your lab. Currently I am a student in the Biology Colloquium class at the University. This class is designed for students who are interested in biology and want to explore all their options. I would be able to enroll in a one-credit research experience course. The project requires my work in a laboratory for at least three hours per week for the semester.

You may contact me at ______. I have attached my resume.

Thank you for your consideration.

Your Name