When I came into USC my freshman year, I really wanted to try research but was unsure how to get involved. Research at USC is such a broad field that includes so many different disciplines. I have friends who conduct research in a variety of topics from robotics engineering to environmental computer science.
Personally, I do research in 3D ultrasound development for various different applications. I have loved conducting research for the last three years. Each week in lab is different. Some days I run simulations to better understand our ultrasound systems, and other days I help make new transducers and circuits. The variety of each mini project has made research really fun for me.
While research may not be a great fit for everyone, I highly recommend everyone tries for themselves. I have personally loved research, but many of my friends have found the process to not be a good fit. To get you started with the research process, I have compiled a list of guidelines for you.
Find Labs that Interest You
Make an effort to learn more about your professors and their research. I found my research position from my first engineering class at USC. Alternatively, many people find potential research opportunities from online sources. You can check out the Viterbi Research Centers and USC’s research tips and tricks.
After compiling a list of potential research labs, reach out to professors via email. It may be scary at first, but once you break it down it is not so bad. First introduce yourself and tell the professor about what interests you most about their research. I think it helps to specify a certain part of their project you’d like work on. After you can go into any experience you have, but don’t worry too much if you don’t have any yet! I didn’t have any research experience when I started.
Keep it Up
Professors are notorious for not keeping up with their email very well. Definitely follow up with professors that don’t respond! They’re often super busy and may have just missed your previous email.
Good luck finding research! I hope you enjoy the process, and you learn a lot. 🙂