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How Do I Connect with Faculty Researchers? 

Botanical Conservatory Greenhouse
, (ASPIRE) and (CUREs).

College Medalist Kelsey Klein was a member of the ASPIRE program, which connected her to Professor Ron Mangun, Department of Psychology and Neurology. In the lab, Klein studied relationships between attention mechanisms in the brain’s early visual cortex and eye gaze

Kelsey Klein
Kelsey Klein uses an EEG (electroencephalography) cap to measure the electrophysiological responses of the brain. David Slipher/UC Davis

Most undergraduates get their first research role with minimal previous scientific experience. Faculty know you’re here to learn and it’s got to start somewhere. So as long as you have curiosity and drive, you’ll find a place to grow as a scientist at UC Davis.

“I think students need to kind of trust themselves a little bit more and be a little bit more confident,” said Jennifer Addleman, who joined Professor David Hawkins’ Human Performance Lab as a freshman. 

Addleman studies the physiology of movement and explores how this understanding can help reduce ACL injuries. “You don’t need to go into it already knowing everything, because that’s not the point. The point is to learn more,” she said.   

Preparing your credentials

Before you apply to a lab, you’ll want to make sure your resume is in tip-top condition. Faculty know that for many students college marks the first opportunity to engage in scientific research. So including your work and academic background is important. Many of the skills essential to your previous jobs, like time management, attention to detail and ability to handle responsibilities will be essential to success in a research environment.

“You should have a resume prepared that not only covers your academic performance and background but your work history, volunteerism and maybe a little bit about your motivation,”  said College of Biological Sciences Dean Mark Winey.

And if you’re a first-year or transfer student, the BIS 005 and BIS 198 introductory courses provide opportunities to help you draft letters of interest to a lab and create a professional online presence via LinkedIn.

So whether you’ve got prior research experience or are just setting out on your scientific career, following these steps will help you make an impression. Taking the initiative to learn about faculty labs and preparing a resume will demonstrate your capabilities and commitment to finding a research position. 


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