Finding a Faculty Advisor
A good faculty advisor is very important to a successful research experience. You will want to find “a match” with someone you can talk to/work with over the next two or more quarters. When choosing a faculty advisor, you are encouraged to remember that the research project must be mutually acceptable to both you and the faculty member. There is no guarantee that the first faculty member approached will say yes, so you should understand the research/thesis process and identify a faculty advisor and a topic before you begin your senior year. Acceptable faculty advisors should hold a tenure-track position at UCI (assistant, associate, or full professor). If they are not tenure-track, and have not been previously approved (by working with an honors student before you), you will need to submit documentation about your potential faculty advisor to the Honors Director for approval. Follow the Campuswide Honors petition process online to request an exception. As part of that petition, be sure to include information on your proposed faculty advisor (highest degree held and from what school, faculty’s prior experience working with undergraduate research, faculty’s interest/expertise in the area you plan to study, and anything else you think might be helpful in the Honors Director’s review of your request.In order to identify a suitable faculty research advisor, find out something about their background and current research interests. Look them up on their departmental website. Each school maintains information on each of their faculty members, the current research interests, etc. on their departmental websites. You can also check if prospective faculty research advisors are part of any of UCI’s various research centers (www.research.uci.edu/centers-institutes/index.html). Finally, you can see if they have a profile on www.faculty.uci.edu (the UCI Faculty Research Profiles) or a listing on the www.urop.uci.edu (check out their “On-campus opportunities listings”).The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) website in general can be a very useful research resource. You can review their “Researchers’ Handbook.” which has useful faculty information and helpful ideas on how and when to approach a potential faculty advisor, how to conduct yourself throughout this process, and how to work successfully with your advisor. The section about “How to Get Started” is a must read before beginning your search for a faculty mentor. You can also explore the various research and creative on-campus opportunities with faculty or off-campus opportunities with industrial partners, national labs, and other universities.Also, talk to other students who are currently doing research, or see one of the Honors Advisors, to find out more about specific faculty and the kinds of research honors students have done in the past. Campuswide Honors has a list of faculty research advisors, which is available in the Honors Office during regular business hours.Finally, if you have difficulty finding an appropriate faculty advisor, the school honors advisors, department chairs, UROP counselors, and other faculty may be able to refer you to a potential faculty advisor.When you go to talk to potential faculty advisors, be as clear as you can as to why you are interested in working with them and their particular area of research. Bring a copy of your transcript and resume with you, in case they ask to see them.If you have questions or concerns (for example, how many hours a week will you be expected to work in a lab, or whether you’ll be getting a letter grade or P/NP for your work each quarter, or what deadlines will be used?), jot them down beforehand, and discuss them with potential faculty advisors before you make a final decision.Encourage your potential faculty advisor to talk to the Honors Director if he/she has any questions or concerns of their own. Some students may feel they need two faculty advisors (from different departments/schools), and in certain cases, this might be very appropriate. Make sure both advisors are aware of this arrangement and agree to work “together” with you. Talk about how grades will be given, who is responsible for reviewing and approving your final honors thesis, and who will sign the Thesis Approval form.
See Suggestions for Contacting/Meeting a Prospective Faculty Mentor and Strategies for a Successful Undergraduate Research Experience for further help and suggestions.