Getting In: The Essential Guide to Finding a STEMM Undergrad Research Experience (Chicago Guides to Academic Life) (Paperback)
An empowering guide for students in STEMM that demystifies the process of securing undergraduate research experiences.
Conducting research is an important foundation for many undergraduates on STEMM career paths. But landing an extremely competitive research spot that is also an enriching experience involves knowing how to present yourself effectively and an awareness of your goals and expectations. In this book, an expert lab manager and a longtime principal investigator share their secrets for obtaining these coveted positions.
Offering advice to students in a wide variety of STEMM fields at both research-intensive universities and primarily undergraduate institutions, Getting In helps students navigate the hidden curriculum of academia, unofficial rules that disproportionately affect first-generation college students and those from low-income backgrounds and communities historically underrepresented in science. The authors provide not only an overview of STEMM research and lab opportunities but also specific strategies for the entire application process—including how to write emails that get noticed by busy professors, how to ask for a research position during office hours, and interview questions to prepare for—so students can claim their place in research settings.
With its emphasis on the many interpersonal and professional benefits of research experiences, Getting In equips all STEMM undergrads with the tools they need both to secure these valued positions and to develop habits that will build productive relationships with their future research mentors.
As an undergrad, Getting In will help you:
- determine how much time you can spend on research by evaluating your current activity level and goals.
- find the time to do research without giving up your social life or risking your GPA.
- avoid common mistakes in the search, application, or interview that make it harder to find a research experience.
- write emails that get you noticed by busy professors by customizing the included templates.
- prepare for tough interview questions so you’ll impress the interviewer with your answers, and be able to determine if the position is right for you.
As a research mentor, Getting In will help your students:
- navigate the hidden curriculum of finding a research experience in science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine (STEMM).
- set realistic expectations for their research experience.
- understand why conducting research requires effort and will include some failure and other challenges.
- be active participants in their success in the lab.
About the Author
Paris H. Grey is a writer, molecular biologist, and lab mentor. She has written articles on strategies for early-career researchers for Nature, Lab Manager, Science, and elsewhere. With David G. Oppenheimer, she is co-creator of UndergradInTheLab.com, a website to help researchers navigate the hidden curriculum in STEMM research and to help mentors address emerging issues before small matters turn into big problems. You can also find them on Twitter @YouInTheLab or Instagram @UndergradInTheLab.
David G. Oppenheimer is associate professor in biology at the University of Florida. His research program focuses on the proteins that control cytoskeleton dynamics and how this influences plant cell shape. With Paris H. Grey, he is co-creator of UndergradInTheLab.com, a website to help researchers navigate the hidden curriculum in STEMM research and to help mentors address emerging issues before small matters turn into big problems. You can also find them on Twitter @YouInTheLab or Instagram @UndergradInTheLab.
"In the second edition of their user’s manual for undergraduate research experiences, lab manager Grey and principal investigator Oppenheimer present an exhaustive look at the 'hidden curriculum' behind lab culture. The book is divided into two parts. The first provides an overview of why research experience is valuable, describes research culture, and advises students on proper expectations for lab experiences. The second walks students through the process of searching, applying, and interviewing for research positions. Getting In is encyclopedic . . . [and] provides a wealth of knowledge on all aspects of the undergraduate research experience."
— Physics Today, "Books that stood out in 2023"
"This book provides a fantastic and comprehensive overview of all aspects of undergraduate research in STEM fields. . . . The authors are both experienced science faculty who have mentored many students in their labs. . . . This book is great for many groups such as undergraduates thinking about research or those already engaged in such work as well as their faculty mentors. It can be used as part of a course that meets to provide mentoring for undergraduate researchers and is an inexpensive, enjoyable, and a fun read as well."
— Plant Science Bulletin
“Focused, functional, and accessible, Getting In will help students who are new to the process to look for, evaluate, apply to, interview for, and select research experiences. Importantly, it removes a lot of the barriers to success faced by students with fewer resources, experience, and supports, and in doing so increases access and opportunity for all students in STEMM.”
— Laura Rico-Beck, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, University of Chicago
“A terrific guidebook for students early on in their science research career. Getting In provides an organized plan, including strategies, timelines, and examples, to help students move from questioning to well educated, from uncertain to confident in their qualifications and goals. It is a treasure trove of broadly applicable resources for advisors, mentors, and students in classrooms and research labs.”
— Susan Bush Tripp, Natural Sciences Department, Metropolitan State University
"Eminently useful. . . . This is an excellent book of value for any faculty member involved in undergraduate research, for undergraduate advisers working with various students, and for virtually any undergraduate."
— Council on Undergraduate Research, on the First Edition
"Many undergraduate students want to do research for one reason or another, but may not know much about it or how to get a position. The language is straightforward . . . and the tone is aimed directly at undergraduate students; it's clear from the beginning that the authors are highly attuned to the college student's mindset and lifestyle. . . . I would definitely recommend this book for early undergraduate students who are considering a career in the sciences."
— Student Doctor Network, on the First Edition