When can I start research?

Yale’s numerous and diverse research opportunities provide the flexibility to permit each student to begin research at the time most appropriate for that student. While STARS, for example, serves as a means for many undergraduates to begin research as early as their first year at Yale, many students will begin independent research later in their undergraduate career. This can, in some cases, provide more time to pursue coursework establishing the foundation for a strong understanding of underlying scientific problems. A relatively early start on research can often give rise to a rewarding, in-depth experience, but many students who begin research in their junior or senior years go on to perform publishable research and to acquire the experience needed to gain entry to top graduate and professional school programs.

Should I do research in the academic year or summer?

Research can be conducted in the summer, academic year, or both. Academic year research is usually performed for course credit, often in association with the satisfaction of departmental major requirements. Summer research, which is often supported by a stipend, provides the opportunity for a more intensive research experience. Many students find summer a particularly rewarding time for research, and combining the summer and academic year for a sustained research experience often allows a student to get into a project in the depth required for a substantive and fruitful research experience. Such an approach is highly recommended for students with potential interest in a research career.

How will my research be funded? Can I receive stipend support?

Costs of research performed in association with a faculty mentor will normally be covered by the faculty member, using external or internal grant sources. In some cases, student research costs may be covered by other fellowships, such as individual student research fellowships that may provide money for research expenses.

Student research, such as summer research, that is not performed for academic credit will often come with a stipend or fellowship support sufficient to provide for living expenses during the research period. Research support may come from a faculty research grant or from individual student research fellowship sources.

How do I find a research lab?

Departmental research interest pages (linked from Departmentally-based Research Programs) provide valuable information about ongoing faculty research. Students may be aided in identifying a potential faculty mentor by consultation with a Departmental DUS (Director of Undergraduate Studies), academic advisor, instructor, teaching assistant or friend who is performing or has performed research at Yale. Students should consider a number of factors (area of interest, adequacy of supervision plans to provide necessary training, expectations as to intensity and duration of the experience, etc.) in choosing a laboratory, and should discuss plans for the project, supervision and support with their intended faculty mentor.

Click here for a guide to finding a faculty mentor for your summer research.

How will my research project be defined?

In some cases, faculty will provide a listing of clearly defined research projects on which prospective students may work. In other cases, research projects may be defined through discussion between the faculty mentor and student, based on ongoing projects in the laboratory and the interests of the student. Students should not feel that they will be expected to approach a faculty member with clearly defined ideas of their own as to research projects; while original thought as to the initial design of a research project is welcomed, most students will look to their faculty mentors for guidance at this stage.

How can I get more information about research and fellowship opportunities?

By attending one of the information sessions/workshops held in the late fall.  The range of opportunities available at Yale and advice about finding a lab and applying for fellowships will be discussed.

Paik and recent graduate student Samara Reck-Peterson look over the results of an electrophoretic separation of myosins in the laboratory of MCDB faculty member Mark Mooseker.