Hello, first-years and transfers! Welcome to the University of New Hampshire (UNH), an incredible university where opportunities and knowledge abound. There are a million ways to get involved here, including: research.
Getting involved in research does not apply solely to students in the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture or the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. This is for all students—research is the pursuit of knowledge, and knowledge is found in every college and school here.
Research provides incredible experiences. It has taken me from Oklahoma, where I studied an endangered beetle, to Berlin, NH, three hours north of campus to look for winter ticks that are harming moose. I’ve presented a poster at an international conference in Toronto, and this summer I got to work at the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Newington, studying small mammals and predators.
Research is easy to get involved with. Professors who conduct research typically welcome students, and are thrilled to see that students are interested in their work.
When looking for opportunities, don’t just email professors whose work aligns exactly with what you think you may be interested in, or what department your major is part of. My first research job was with professors in the Department of Biological Sciences, even though my major, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, is housed in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment.
In Biological Sciences, I worked with insects. At the time, I was interested solely in mammals, and had my brother kill the stinkbugs. Now, I have a great appreciation of insects and other organisms I used to think were not so interesting, and have traveled to Oklahoma and Toronto.
Additionally, after working with a variety of fields, you have a better understanding of what truly interests you—whether you decide to remain in academia or not—and what you want to pursue in the future. You learn skills that apply in your classes: I’ve used my agricultural knowledge, my insect knowledge, the statistical knowledge I’ve learned conducting analyses of data.
And, you can even find paid research. But if you can’t, don’t turn down an opportunity right away—I volunteer my time to prepare mammal museum specimens, and now have a skill and friends I wouldn’t have had before.
To get involved in research, you must do some minor research of your own: Go online and find the faculty directory for the department your major is housed in, or the departments of your college. (Or, go outside your college). Find a department whose work interests you. Browse through the faculty profiles, and identify a few faculty whose work you wish to participate in.
Then, email them. Professionalism is key. A template I’ve used is to: first, introduce oneself and say that you are interested in the professor’s respective field of study. If you have related experience, summarize it—such as, if applying for history research, you volunteered for a museum once. If not, that’s okay! Write about why you are interested in getting involved in research—learning a new skill, for example. Sign off professionally, signing your full name, major, and email. Attach your resume. If you want, you can write in times when you would be able to meet with the professor if they ask for a meeting.
Lastly, be patient, and wait for responses. If the professor wants to meet with you, dress professionally. Be open to opportunities. Who knows where it may lead.
Good luck. Research is one of the best things I’ve gotten involved in here.