Hacks for Finding A Research Opportunity

Studying is exciting and engaging! Perhaps, while reading through academic papers for your next assignment, you came across your own idea that you would like to research. No need to wait! You can do it right now and Hopkins Office for Undergraduate Research (HOUR) has got your back.

What is HOUR?

HOUR is your resource for:

  • Finding opportunities and mentors,
  • Finding funding for research, travel, etc.,
  • Sharing your research projects,
  • Finding resources to strengthen skills.

When should I start?

Deciding to begin research is a personal choice directed by:

  • Your academic workload and schedule
  • Understanding the time you have available
    • (Students average8 hrs./ week researching)

Research is NOT something you should start just because everyone else is!

Step 1. How do I start?

Create a list of keywords:

  • Topics that interest you
  • Areas you feel driven to explore
  • Problems you want to solve
  • Something mentioned in class you want to delve deeper into.

Consider what a mentor may require:

  • Prerequisite trainings or papers to read in advance,
  • Mandatory group or lab meetings,
  • End of semester deliverables like a paper or poster.

Identify your needs:

  • What are you looking for? Lab, clinical, community, shadowing…
  • When do you want to start?
  • How many hours can you commit and still have balance in your life?
  • What kind of compensation do you need?

Tip: you can find faculty email addresses at https://my.jh.edu/. Just log in and enter the name in the JH Enterprise Directory (JHED) search box.

Search shows:

    • Email address (the Holy Grail!)
    • Primary department
    • Additional appointments
    • Office address
    • Primary campus
      And often:
    • Lab address
    • Lab website

Step 2. Contacting faculty

  • Always use your JHU email address.
  • If you are not using ForagerOne, BCC yourself to help track contacts for follow-up.
  • Keep it brief (a single screen on your phone).
    • Paragraph 1: introduce yourself,
    • Paragraph 2: a couple of sentences explaining why you are interested in working with them or why you think their research is exciting,
    • Paragraph 3: request a meeting to discuss research opportunities and thank them for their time.


  • Send follow-up emails every 3 – 4 days.
  • Faculty receive hundreds of emails each day, you are not harassing them.
  • If you Bcc’d yourself on your initial email, just reply to all: “I am following up on my email below…”
  • You can follow up 3 or 4 times until you hear back or choose to move on.
  • If they do not have an opening, ask for a referral to another researcher.
  • Always thank them for their time.

Step 3. Meeting faculty

  • Be professional and polite in all interactions. Arrive on time, neatly dressed and prepared.
  • Be prepared: Review their research so you are ready to discuss projects. Have any requested documents ready to bring or send for review.
  • Manage expectations: Be realistic about your commitments and expectations. Ask if this aligns with their expectations.
  • Thank them for their time whether you are offered a position or not.

Next steps

Congratulations, you found an opportunity!

  • Confirm your schedule and be punctual.
  • Ask questions and don’t be afraid to share ideas or think “outside the box.”
  • Have fun and do great things!!

There were no positions with this mentor, what next?

  • Thank them for their time,
  • Ask them for referrals to colleagues doing similar work.
  • Don’t give up! Contact more faculty.
  • The right opportunity is out there!!

I am not happy with this opportunity, what can I do?

  • DO NOT “GHOST” (disappear)!
  • Try to resolve issues internally.
  • Thank them for the opportunity and withdraw.
  • There are 1000s of researchers across Hopkins, don’t settle!

Additional Resources

  • https://research.jhu.edu/hour/
  • Join the HOUR Undergraduate Research Community on HopkinsGroups
  • Daily drop-in hours via ZOOM
  • Email us at HOUR@jhu.edu
  • Follow us:
    • https://www.facebook.com/JHU.HOUR/
    • https://twitter.com/JHU_HOUR
    • https://www.instagram.com/jhu_hour/
    • https://www.linkedin.com/company/jhu-hour/
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