CNAS Freshman Scholars Program

Securing A Faculty Mentor

Part of your responsibility as a RISE application includes finding a faculty mentor whom you can conduct research with. This can be any STEM faculty member (not just CNAS faculty), but what's most important is finding a mentor who is doing research that interests you. If you choose a research topic just because you "think" it might look good on a resume or application, your faculty mentor will notice immediately. It will show in your interest and the quality of your work. Alternatively, choosing a topic that interests you will make you a more engaged and successful researcher!

We have highlighted a series of steps to help you identify faculty members whose research appeals to you. We will guide you on how to:

  • Identify your topic(s) of choice
  • Identify potential faculty members
  • Engage with faculty members
  • Avoid discouragement and intimidation


Step 1: Discover Your Passion

Think about the fields of study that have interested you thus far. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What topics have you enjoyed in your STEM courses?
  • What motivated you to become a CNAS major? 
  • What courses have you done well in thus far?
  • What problems do you want to solve?

Answering these questions will help you carve out your STEM interests. You can then move on to finding a faculty mentor.

Step 2: Find And Research Potential Faculty Mentors

Work through the following steps to find potential faculty mentors and prepare yourself to meet with them:

  • Consider faculty whose class you've already taken and enjoyed! You might already have an idea of what kind of research they're conducting.
  • Browse the Departmental websites for CNAS and other STEM departments, specifically looking at the faculty listings. This generally will show you what area of research every professor in that department is currently undertaking. Most faculty members have "recent publications" listed on their sites. You can find all UCR academic departments here
  • Read some of that professor's publications. If you're browsing faculty on department webpages, either click on their name to obtain more information or read the short description next to their name. You may also find publications in the Orbach Science Library or through UCR's online databases. 

Step 3: Contact And Build Connection

Once you have an idea of which faculty members you'd like to work with, you will need to reach out to them. Your best chances of properly engaging with a faculty member is by meeting in person. Set up an appointment during that faculty's office hours. Email may be appropriate to set up this initial meeting, but you will need to eventually meet in person.

Note: You will likely need to meet with this faculty member more than once. You should spend the first meeting getting to know them and discussing their research. If you feel as though you have strong rapport, you may feel comfortable discussing RISE with them during that first meeting. If not, feel free to meet again with the faculty member to ask if they would be your RISE mentor.

Here is a sample email of how to contact a faculty member about research.

We suggest for you to consider the following:

  • Come having done the research outlined in Step 2. Bring questions about to research to show the material engaged you.
  • Ask the faculty member what research they're currently doing, as this will likely be what you will assist them with during RISE. 
  • Have a strong case as to why you would like to work with that particular faculty member. Bring up what interests you about their research.
  • Bring RISE application materials and explain to the faculty what RISE is about and what the role of the faculty mentor is. Not all faculty will be familiar with our program.
  • All the faculty member needs to do is be willing to work with you and supply lab space, and submit a Letter of Recommendation for your application
  • Be understanding if your first (or second) requests are denied. Keep trying! 

Step 4: Finalize Everything 

Once you have found your RISE faculty mentor, we suggest for you to do the following:

  • Communicate with your faculty mentor through the application process. You will need their input to craft the research proposal you need to submit as part of your application.
  • Make yourself familiar with the student and faculty guidelines. Make sure you are prepared for this wonderful experience!
  • Submit your application by the deadline! Try to have this done as early as possible. 


More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Career OpportunitiesUCR Libraries
Campus StatusDirections to UCR

Department Information

CNAS Freshman Scholars Program
1223 Pierce Hall

Tel: (951) 827-5326
Fax: (951) 827-2243
E-mail: cnasscholars@ucr.edu