Getting Involved in Summer Research Labs at Keck: Where do I Start?

Hi all!

As a student interested in STEM, the terms “research” and “labs” are often floating around the midst of everyday conversations, especially as many students are beginning to look into summer opportunities during the spring semester. Although the idea of research is consistently drilled into the back of your head, unlike the labs you get to do in your chemistry classes, there isn’t a list of steps that you can use to even begin your summer research pursuits. So… Where should you start?

To provide a little background— when you take STEM classes at Scripps, you take them at the Keck Science Department which is a joint science department between CMC, Pitzer, and Scripps. It’s popular amongst many students to reach out to the professors at Keck Science Department after checking out their research interests on the Keck directory. Of course, you may search for research opportunities at other institutions, but in this post, I will simply be talking about how to reach out to professors specifically and the Keck Science Department and my experiences with that!

In order to reach out to professors about research opportunities, it’s important to do sufficient research about the professors’ interests online or ask on campus at the Keck office for their binder of Faculty Research. After you’ve done your research, then it’s time to reach out to the faculty member of your choice! When you reach out to the faculty member of your choice, it is suggested that you first and foremost express interest, mention which aspects of the research you resonate with, and ask if they have any more space available. 

Once that faculty member responds to your email, they may ask you for more additional information about you such as your science background and why you’re specifically interested in their lab. Then, act accordingly based on the responses that you get from your professors!

Many students at Scripps and in the other colleges have fairly easy access to research, especially given the small student body and the vast amount of resources available! In fact, as a first-year student, I’ve managed to secure a few research opportunities despite my lack of experience. If anything, the biggest obstacle I had to overcome was simply to find the courage and initiative to reach out to professors. Turns out, the professors are more than understanding of your situations and do not expect you to be a complete expert on the research material. They will take the time to help you familiarize yourself with the academic material as well as provide you with the necessary laboratory experience before proceeding on with research.

I’m still in the process of learning what the lab environment is like, but if you have any additional questions about finding research opportunities, please reach out to me at [email protected]

Additionally, here is a link to the list of faculty members who may or may not have research opportunities:

Take care!

Serena <3