FLORIDA STATE / UNDERGRADUATE / RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES
Directed Independent Study
Directed Independent Study, or DIS, is a structured opportunity for undergraduate students to conduct lab research with an FSU professor. DIS is valuable because it offers:
- Mentorship from a faculty researcher
- Hands-on experience attractive to future employers and graduate programs
- Academic credentials from conferences, presentations, and publications
- Academic credit, scholarships, stipends, and awards for having conducted research
- The exhilaration of being the first person to see research results – results that may make an important contribution to the field and world
Should you consider a DIS? Ask yourself:
- How could undergraduate research prepare me for a future career?
- Will I like lab work?
- Do I have time for undergraduate research (10-20 hours a week)?
- Will I need a letter of recommendation from a professor (for graduate school, for example)?
Take the following four steps to seek out a DIS position:
Identify Potential Faculty / Research Groups
Look through the list of faculty on FSU’s Chemistry and Biochemistry website. Click on each name to read the professors’ profiles. You can even search by particular ‘flavors’ of Chemistry (like Organic, Inorganic, Physical, Biochemistry, and Materials) using the navigation menu at the top of the page. Also see if interesting professors share their group’s website on their profile – if yes, browse the website. If available, download and read one or two of their recent publications too.
Select 4-5 faculty that you’d be interested in working with (not all will have openings for undergraduates when you search). Prepare answers to the following questions:
- Why are you interested in this professor’s research?
- Have you had any experience with this kind of chemistry in the past? If yes, what was it?
- What would you hope to learn while working in this professor’s lab?
- What do you think makes you an attractive candidate for undergraduate research? (i.e. why should the professor choose you?)
Introduce yourself to the professor you’re interested in working with, either in person or over email. Treat the introduction like a job interview:
- If in person, dress professionally (no t-shirts, workout clothes, etc.). Have printed copies of your unofficial transcript and resume ready to share.
- If via email, be thoughtful about spelling and grammar. Ask a friend to proofread. Also attach a copy of your cv/resume and unofficial transcript.
- Introduce yourself (name and major). Briefly describe what you’d like to do after you graduate or remind the professor about the first time you met and what you talked about. Share that you read their online profile. Explain: “I was really interested in ____, ____ and/or _____ and would really like to learn more about ____.” Ask: “Do you currently have an open spot in your lab for an undergraduate researcher?”
Some other thoughts:
- If a professor isn’t currently taking on students, ask: “will you have an opening sometime in the future?”
- Some professors like having students working in their lab for an extended period of time. Be sure to note how long you’re available to work with them (e.g. four semesters).
Discuss and Decide Details
Congratulations! A professor has invited you to join their research group. Now there are just a few more details to negotiate:
- When will you start?
- How many hours per week will you be in the lab?
- Are there certain blocks of time you should be there during the week?
- Are you expected to attend weekly group meetings?
- Are you taking credits for undergraduate research? DIS credit can be taken for 1-3 credits per semester for a total of 18 credits over your undergraduate career.
- Some considerations: Do you need additional credits to be full-time? Would taking additional credits put you over the excess credit threshold?
Set up DIS Credit
(if taking DIS for credit)
Stop by the Chemistry and Biochemistry Student Affairs office in Dittmer 344 and pick up a DIS credit form. The form asks for brief information about you, the DIS, and your DIS professor’s signature. Once filled in, return the form to Dittmer 344.