Research Opportunities

If you’re interested in math research, there are a number of ways you can gain exposure. Here are some resources:

How to Find Faculty Members

You can learn about faculty members through classes, websites (personal, department, or lab/research center websites), their graduate students, classes they teach, their research publications, news stories (e.g. through the Harvard Gazette or newsletters of research centers), campus talks/lectures, student club activities, etc. Freshmen should especially consider taking a Freshmen Seminar, as those are a wonderful opportunity to engage deeply with senior faculty members.

How to Connect with Faculty

Once you have found a faculty member whose interests align with yours, reach out to them during office hours or schedule an appointment. (Note: to be effective, emails should have a short, descriptive subject, be professional (with proper capitalization, grammar, formal tone, addressed by proper salutation and last name, etc.), and briefly, in 1-2 short paragraphs, explain who you are and why you want to connect with them.) Once you have met with the faculty member, continue to establish regular contact, even if you are not taking their class, by visiting them during office hours or inviting them to student-faculty dinners in your house.

How to Find Someone to Do Research With

Absolutely, with no qualifications, approach the researcher and ask what it would take to do research in his/her lab. As a first-year undergraduate student, it’s very likely that you don’t have the knowledge to contribute to the projects. So approach humbly, asking what you can do to prepare yourself. Ask for suggestions for a review paper or a few research reports that would bring you up to speed. Ask if you can attend lab meetings as a fly-on-the-wall to absorb the controversies and decisions being made day-by-day. The very worst possible case is that you’re told, “no.” If so, you’re already there. Next worst is that you invest your time and get only an education out of it. That’s not so bad. You’ll be positioned very very well for next year.

Internal Resources

External Resources

The most common external research program students attend is an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates). Note that all REUs are fully funded and provide a stipend for living.

Further information about research opportunities in math is available here.

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