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Other Research positions outside home university

  1. Feb 3, 2017 #1
    I'm a freshman physics major at a small research university in Philadelphia. The majority of the university is geared toward the health sciences, so we have very limited opportunities for research in physics. I'm just starting to develop my interests in specific fields in physics, and I'd ideally like to study particle physics (I'd also like to try my hand at both experimental and theoretical research). None of the professors in my department are doing research that I find particularly interesting. I'm in the process of applying for several summer REUs, most in particle physics, but since I'm a freshman with no formal university research experience, I doubt I'll get a position. I am going to meet with the chair of my department to discuss his research in chaos theory, but if I do not like working in his lab or if I do not get the position or any REUs, should I seek research opportunities at other, nearby, larger universities? I was told to do this by a graduate student I met at a conference earlier in the year, but I fear they do not have enough space in their labs to accommodate their own students, let alone a student from another university. Has anyone had a similar experience? I've known I've wanted to do undergraduate research for a very long time and I'd really like to start as soon as possible. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 3, 2017 #2


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    It's fine to approach other universities for research positions if you're not getting what you want where you are. You're right that in most cases professors will favour students from their own institutions before hiring anyone from outside. What can be a big help is if you're coming with some kind of external funding. If you approach a professor with an eye to submitting a proposal to some external body that will fund all or part of your position you're likely to have a lot more interest.

    The other thing worth mentioning is that for your first summer, you might not want to get too picky about the nature of your research. Sure, it would be nice to find something that's a perfect match for what you like, but as a freshman, you probably don't have too much of an idea of what's really out there yet. So it can help to keep an open mind and explore the opportunities that are available to you. You can then refine as you go.
  4. Feb 7, 2017 #3
    Thanks for the advice!
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