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Asking Professors about Research During COVID

HeartSurgeonNumberOne

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May 29, 2018
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I'm a incoming freshman and have nothing to do over the summer so I was thinking I'd ask some faculty professors at my school (Case Western) if they had some research opportunities or things I could do with their lab over the break during the quarantine. Any pointers on the email or other overall advice on what I can expect/should ask for?
Thanks
 
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lumya

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It’ll probably be like any other type of research search. Be polite in your email. Explain who you are, why you’re writing to them, and why you’re reaching out to them specifically (if there’s specific research they have done). Keep it short and concise and ask if they are willing to correspond with you via email or phone.

You say you’re an incoming freshman so I’m assuming you’ve never had classes with these professors or met them in person. Sending cold emails might not yield that high of a response (do you have a student email yet?) so you can also see if there are webpages for research labs on your school’s individual departments. If there’s a lab manager listed, they might be a better person to contact since the PI usually doesn’t do all the clerical work of finding student volunteers. Also keep in mind that some research labs might not be doing much with Covid.

Feel free to PM me a draft of your email if you want to run it by someone. I used to work in a clinical research lab and I did 4 years of research in college.
 
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HeartSurgeonNumberOne

New Member
2+ Year Member
May 29, 2018
6
2
76
  1. Pre-Medical
It’ll probably be like any other type of research search. Be polite in your email. Explain who you are, why you’re writing to them, and why you’re reaching out to them specifically (if there’s specific research they have done). Keep it short and concise and ask if they are willing to correspond with you via email or phone.

You say you’re an incoming freshman so I’m assuming you’ve never had classes with these professors or met them in person. Sending cold emails might not yield that high of a response (do you have a student email yet?) so you can also see if there are webpages for research labs on your school’s individual departments. If there’s a lab manager listed, they might be a better person to contact since the PI usually doesn’t do all the clerical work of finding student volunteers. Also keep in mind that some research labs might not be doing much with Covid.

Feel free to PM me a draft of your email if you want to run it by someone. I used to work in a clinical research lab and I did 4 years of research in college.
Thanks for you response! I have a student email and found the faculty research page. So you're saying I can find the lab manager on the professors's website for their research (usually the url is like professorlabs.org or something along those lines)?

Yeah, my biggest worry is that they'll say no because there's nothing to do with COVID so I'm unsure what I should say I want to do there as a research assistant. I'm thinking about highlighting my lab experience in high school and the work I did as an AP Biology student, do you think that would be a good idea? I'll PM it to you when I finish it, thanks so much for the offer.

Is there anything else that would be good for me to do during the summer if the research opportunity doesn't pan out?
 

lumya

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Aug 7, 2018
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I'm not sure about Case but I went to OSU and each department had a link to research labs open to students (ex. if I went to the psychology department website which was like psychology.osu.edu or something like that, one of the tabs was about research). There will usually be someone's contact info who works in the lab, it's most likely a graduate student or a lab manager so you probably won't be talking to the PI directly at first.

I mean, the worst thing they can do is say no. If you end up in a class with one of these professors you can reach out again after you know them a bit and just reference how you've been interested in their work and would like an opportunity to do research under them. I do believe that while Ohio is in Phase II, at least at OSU, they're not having everyone come back - most of my friends who work in academia there are still working from home. So if there's a specific task you think you can help with (documentation, data entry) that you can do at home that's suitable for the project you can mention that, and it'll help them see what you can offer at the time. I think given the current situation, getting into a wet lab to do hands on tasks might not be feasible.

If you aren't able to research but you're able to get out - go volunteer! A lot of places like the blood bank, food bank, homeless shelters, animal shelters, ect. had an influx of volunteers at the beginning of Covid but now desperately need more people. Places with generally older volunteers like polling locations and soup kitchens, now have mass shortages. Volunteering and showing you have a commitment to helping people less fortunate than you is just as important as research.
 
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