First, you should identify areas of research that you would be interested in pursuing. To do so, think back to what chemistry classes and labs you particularly enjoyed. Was the content of the class/lab more chemical biology, inorganic, chemical education, analytical, organic, materials, physical/theoretical or environmental focused? Attending departmental and university research forums/seminars can also help you to figure out what you might like to do. Don’t forget to also use your fellow classmates, your TA’s and your class instructors as resources. If you’re still not sure what research area interests you, then start by doing a general review of faculty research in the academic department in which you are majoring. But, don’t be afraid to think broadly and explore research outside of your academic department, too!
Next, start searching through academic programs (including the School or Medicine, Engineering and Pharmacy), department web sites, the student job center, Buckynet, and on-campus research centers. Using key terms, you can also use the search tool on wisc.edu or the Wisconsin Discovery Portal to identify researchers on campus that are conducting research in the area(s) of interest to you. In addition, talk to friends, instructors and TA’s who are already doing research to get their advice about potential mentors.
You might also consider enrolling in CHEM 260. Chem 260 is a 1-credit seminar course designed to help undergraduates find a research mentor, learn how to effectively define an independent research project, learn about the roles and responsibilities of a researcher, and learn how to effectively communicate your research to the greater scientific community. This course is designed to be taken concurrently with 1-3 independent research credits and is offered both in the Fall and Spring semesters.
After identifying eight to ten research advisors, start contacting the research groups via email. Some helpful tips on how to contact research advisors is listed here.