Faculty invited to step forward as research mentors to undergraduates

September 16, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State faculty members or researchers from any college or campus who wish to include undergraduates in their research or to provide mentorship to undergraduate researchers are encouraged to communicate their availability though the recently expanded Undergraduate Research Opportunities Database. The database, administered by Undergraduate Research and Fellowships Mentoring (URFM), helps undergraduates interested in research connect with research mentors.

“We hear from students each semester that they are interested in pursuing undergraduate research but aren’t sure how to connect with mentors,” said Caitlin Ting, director of Undergraduate Research and Fellowship Mentoring. “We are asking individuals who are engaged in research and who are available to mentor undergraduates to make themselves known using the database. The need for research mentors exists across all disciplines but is particularly great in arts, business and the humanities.”

Potential mentors — faculty members, along with research staff, nontenure-line faculty engaged in research, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows — can use the database to advertise specific paid or unpaid undergraduate research assistant positions using the “Specific Posting” option.

Mentors can now also use the database to communicate a general, ongoing need for research assistance or to connect with students who wish to undertake a project of their own using the “General Posting” option, providing support to undergraduates who wish to:

  • Apply for or complete a summer research experience through the Erickson Discovery Grant program.
  • Design a research project as part of a fellowship application.
  • Complete an honors thesis for the Schreyer Honors College.
  • Pursue an independent study with a research component.
  • Provide paid or unpaid assistance to a faculty member’s research project on an ad hoc basis (not necessarily as part of a research grant).
  • Complete any other kind of student-directed research project or creative inquiry.

Mentors can specify how interested students should contact them and whether any supplemental materials are required, such as a transcript, resume or CV, or writing sample. Once a mentor and student have agreed to work with one another, mentors have full autonomy in managing the partnership (i.e., URFM offers the database as a tool but not does manage mentor-student relationships).

Research mentors can input as many posts as they wish, and posts expire after a semester unless otherwise indicated. Research mentors can find more information on how to use the database on URFM’s website.

The database is not intended to be an exhaustive resource of all the opportunities available at Penn State. Undergraduate students who require further assistance in connecting with research opportunities are encouraged to contact URFM for additional support.

URFM is part of the Penn State Office of Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at undergrad.psu.edu.

Last Updated September 22, 2021