Purdue has a variety of ways for undergraduates to get started in research, but the best place to start is with your favorite professor. Ask questions. Find out about their research. And get inspired. He or she should be able to not only help you find out where to start, but how to get there.
You can find a faculty mentor by thinking about professors you've had in classes in your field of interest. These professors probably have recently published research articles, right? Right. So start by researching those — and don't forget to check out departmental websites. There, you can see if your research interests match, or even find professors you haven't met yet to find a subject you would enjoy learning more about.
After you've found a faculty mentor you'd like to work with, think about topics that interest you by remembering classes you've taken that were especially enjoyable. Which subjects in those classes did you really like? Anything you were curious about, or wished you could explore further? This is a great place to start.
Name: Laci Brock
Major: Interdisciplinary Physics and Planetary Sciences
Laci is studying under Distinguished Professor of Earth, Atmostpheric, and Planetary Sciences Jay Melosh, researching the ecosystem Gliese 581. Laci also authored an abstract, "Impact Exchange of Materials Between Planets of Gliese 581," presenting the research at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in March 2012.
"I've always loved to look at the stars. I always knew I wanted to be a scientist. And it's happening because of Purdue and the research opportunities I've gained in the planetary sciences."