Finding Research with Professors

Getting involved in research at UCSB is entirely dependent on the ability to reach out to staff and faculty that have labs. Undergraduates can start doing research or working in a lab as early as their freshman year. To get the best idea of what you want to research/ what type of lab you would want to work in go to and look at specific sections that interest you, within those you will find specific labs and descriptions about what they do. Once you have found a lab that interests you (ideally 2 or 3), write an email to the professor running the lab or a graduate student working in the lab expressing your interest in their research and asking for opportunities for an undergraduate to participate. The email should contain a transcript or resume.

Where to find research?

A great place to start would be looking at the department of professors you are interested in joining or to talk to professors whose class you are in about research. 

Eg: Say you’re a 1st year chemical engineering major interested in pursuing bioengineering but you have no idea where to start. Bioengineering is a massive field. Start by reading faculty bios on the ChE department website to get a feel for what you personally find interesting. Read their recent research papers to find out more information about their impact. From there, gather a list of professors whose work intrigues you and begin contacting them.


NOTE: Please try contacting GRADUATE STUDENTS before contacting the professor. The graduate students will be directly mentoring you on research and be the person you interact with the most in the lab.

How to get involved?

If you find a project you may be interested in, send an email to the faculty heading that project. Things to include in that email:


  • Introduce yourself! Who are you? (name, year, major)

  • What do they study that interests you? Have you read any of their papers?

  • Have you taken any relevant courses?

  • What skills do you have? (programming, pipetting–anything)

  • Ask to meet to discuss their work further 

  • Researchers love discussing their work, so they will often make time for these meetings. 

  • Be prepared to share a resume or CV

Example Email: 

Things to NOT do/include in the email:

  • Generally speaking, don’t send out a mass email to 10-20 professors and expect a response back. Instead, actually show you read their research and BE SPECIFIC

  • Don’t directly ask to join their group

    • It’s too forward, also they can just say “no” and stop responding

  • Again, do your research but don’t be creepy. They don’t need to know that you know their home address. Don’t add unnecessary or weird information and keep it professional

  • Poor grammar and spelling mistakes


Please note that in the process of looking for research labs to join, you will 99% of the time receive atleast one rejection or get ghosted. This is normal and is something that you shouldn’t take personally. Oftentimes, labs either don’t have the funding, space, or resources to train new undergraduates. 



In the case where you are ghosted by a prospective faculty member, try sending a reminder email within 5-7 days of your initial email if they don’t respond. Professors are busy people and can easily miss your email in the dozens they receive in a day. Take care to be polite in your reminder emails and if they don’t respond to those reminder emails, then it might be time to look for other opportunities instead.