Manoa Color Seal

University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
College of Natural Sciences


Manoa Color Seal

University of Hawai'i at Mānoa - College of Natural Sciences


Are you a current Natural Science Major?

Schedule with STAR Balance
Excluding appointments with Mathematics and Physics Major advisors

Getting Started

Tips for reaching out and meeting with potential mentors

  • 4. Emailing potential mentors

    With your personal goals in mind, it’s time to email the mentors you are interested in working with. Keep your email concise and professional.

    Some things to include in your email:

    • Your research interests (and how they relate to the faculty member’s research)

    • Any post-graduation plans (and how developing your research skill set will prepare you for them)

    • Any prior research experience

    • Any relevant coursework or personal projects

    • When you would like to start (and how much time you are willing to commit)

    • Where you found out about their research

    • Why you are interested in being mentored by them in particular

    • Anything about their research you found particularly interesting

    • Ask whether they are currently accepting undergraduate researchers

    • Ask if they would be interested in scheduling a meeting to further discuss your involvement

    • Your CV/resume

    • Your unofficial transcript

  • 5. Meeting your mentor and follow-up discussions

    Now that you’ve scheduled a meeting with your potential mentor, it is important not to go in blind. Be prepared to discuss your post-graduation plans and motivations for being in the lab. Some tips for your meeting:

    Do not say you need directed research credits!
    Citing directed research credits as the reason you want to participate in research completely overlooks the purpose of doing undergraduate research, which is to gain first-hand research experience practicing the scientific method. However, we understand that there are requirements you need to fulfill as a student. So instead of focusing on what the requirement says on paper, focus on what the requirement is trying to achieve. Reflecting on these learning objectives as well as any personal learning objectives of your own will help guide the basis of any discussion regarding why you want to participate in research. In your meeting, demonstrating your knowledge, commitment, and interest in the research will be key in selling yourself as someone worth the initial time investment of training.

    Think ahead about what your schedule may look like during the period of your participation and be realistic about how much time you can commit.
    STEM research is usually technically complex and may require many hours of training just to reach a point where you can be in the lab unsupervised. When setting up your schedule, be aware that you will need to be spending relatively long periods of uninterrupted time in the lab in order to get anything done. To put it another way, you won’t be able to squeeze in research hours between classes. Be mindful of this when considering how much time you can commit, and if possible, when registering for classes.

    If your experience in both laboratory experiments and application of content is limited mostly to coursework, it is very possible you will not be able to contribute many new ideas to the project.
    But don’t let this intimidate you! You are there to learn. Remain humble and acknowledge that you will need to make preparations in order to keep up. Ask for suggestions for topics you can look into before starting, or for any specific review papers or journals your mentor would like you to familiarize yourself with.

    Use this opportunity to discuss what would be expected of you.

    • What level of independence are you expected to have?

    • What will the initial training look like?

    • How many hours a week are you expected to contribute?

    • Are you receiving credits for your time?

    • In your mentor’s opinion, what are the hallmarks of a successful undergraduate researcher?

Apply for Directed Research Credits

If applicable, students may opt to receive compensation for undergraduate research through Directed Research credits. Refer to the directions below on how to apply for Directed Research credits by major.


We provide academic advising services to all undergraduate students in the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Hours of Operation
Sinclair Library 301
Monday - Friday
Online appointments only!