Undergraduate Research

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How do you get the most out of research at UC Berkeley, a world-renown hub for research of all types? This page contains tips for applying for research, as well as for succeeding in research.

Applying for Research

  1. Decide what your research purpose is. Do you know exactly what you want to study? Or are you trying to determine what you want to study later on? Don't be afraid to reach out to opportunities in other departments as well!
  2. Apply: At Berkeley, there are many different resources to get research.
    1. Attend an event, and meet a professor! (SFL, etc)
    2. Cold Email
    3. Connections (ask your friends!)
    4. For summer opportunities, go to Summer Opportunities.
    5. URAP
    6. The Physics and Astronomy ULAB
  3. Remember, when you start you aren't expected to know much of anything.

Some things to bear in mind

  • How do you talk with your PI/Graduate student?

It's important to recognize that your PI/Graduate student is a person too! It can be intimidating but recognizing that they are also somebody interested in physics is key to mustering up the courage and sending that first email. And often times, you'll find that your PI/Graduate student is super friendly and open to your questions and concerns.

  • Keep a balanced lifestyle!

Research is emphasized a lot here at Berkeley, but keeping a balanced lifestyle is important. Your PI/graduate student knows that you have classes and midterms, so don't be afraid to let them know when one week is busier than another. Research is just one part of your overall schedule here at Berkeley, so don't feel too pressured to devote all your time and energy into it.

  • When do you move on to the next group?

If your current research position is not giving you what you want to gain from the experience, it may be time for you to move on. You may realize that perhaps condensed matter physics is not the sub-field for you, or perhaps the research group operates in a style that is not suited for you (e.g. a very hands off, large group). Talk around, with both your PI/graduate student/post-doc and with fellow physics majors. But in the end, it's a gut feeling!