I have had some limited research experience which resulted in me being a second author on the paper. I was not given any influence on the direction of the work or the actual paper though, and I now consider it to be a poor paper and the work to be completely lacking in direction. This question is mainly for those who have had very successful undergrad projects, and subsequently went to grad school. How did you become involved in said project? How seriously did you investigate your research sponsor before becoming involved? What do you feel contributed most to the success of your project? Beyond my complete dedication, how can I best prove to the world of physics that I can contribute to this field, and that I have a place at a good grad school?