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Research opportunities (undergrad)?

  1. Nov 9, 2006 #1
    Hi, I am currently a undergrad freshmen majoring in Physics.

    I've been poking around the forums and checking posts. One thing i noticed is that in order to get into good Grad school program, one needs solid research experiences. It seems that i should get started as soon as possible.

    But the thought of researching real physics scares me. I am just a freshman, only taking some intermediate classical mechanics and modern physics class (and Calc III), would I be able to actually get something done in a research? It seems that I should be expected to do researches asap but what kind of knowledge in physics am I expected to know?

    I checked the NSF website... most of the undergrad research programs involve topics that i have no familiarity with. Plus most of them have application deadlines around Feb.

    When am I expected to engage in these internships (right now or maybe during Junior, Senior year?) When should I get started sending in applications for these internships or research opportunities (for summer or in general)? Am I expected to get good quality recommandations from my professors for these applications? (the idea of recommandation scares me... most of the professors do not even know my name...)
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2006 #2


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    That's the beauty of it!

    The professor can be researching the most complicated thing where you won't understand a word in the title of the topic or even the description of it.

    But, he will explain it to you, of course in layman terms at first and it will from there. He will give you simple jobs, so sometimes it might suck. It's not a big surprise. The important part is experience as well as the knowledge.

    So, when should you get started? NOW!

    Yes, get recommendations! Talk to professors and find out exactly how you can get a better shot at getting in.

    I would certainly apply this year.

  4. Nov 10, 2006 #3
    Also -- for the first year and second years, it's easiest to try to work with someone in your department or on your campus (and you can do this now). Then that individual can recommend you to NSF-sponsored programs at other institutions for the summers between sophomore-junior and junior-senior years. :tongue:
  5. Nov 10, 2006 #4
    thx for the advice. looks like I have to go bold and ask my professors if there is anything I can do...
  6. Nov 10, 2006 #5
    In addtion, I really don't know anything about your particular university, but most of them have specific courses that you can take during your senior year that give you research experimence.

    In the end, I would say for you to go for anything you can get. I completely decided to change my major from one area of concentration to another after one summer of NSF research.
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