Supporting students, mentors, and instructors engaged in research.

Post an Opportunity

Research mentors interested in connecting with an undergraduate researcher can post an opportunity online through the Center for Undergraduate Research.  Undergraduate research opportunities are listed through the HireJayhawks>> platform and advertised with students across campus through the University Career Center and the Center for Undergraduate Research.  This is only for unpaid opportunities (volunteer or course credit); paid undergraduate research opportunities should be posted through KU's employment website>>.

This is how the process works:

  1. Research mentors submit an opportunity through the online form.
  2. The Center posts your opportunity on our list of online postings and advertises to students.
  3. Interested students email the research mentor directly to apply for opportunity.
  4. The student and mentor meet to see if it will be a good fit. 
  5. Once the position has been filled, the research mentor emails the Center so we can take down the posting.

Positions are posted for 60 days or until they are filled.  It is expected that all opportunities posted through the Center will make the student's educational experience a priority.  Opportunities posted here should only be for academic research; if you are interested in posting a general internship, contact the University Career Center>>.

 

Mentor Eligibility

  • Faculty and research staff:  All KU faculty (Lawrence campus, Edwards campus, and KU Medical Center) are eligible to submit research opportunities through the Center for Undergraduate Research, as are many KU employees who are actively conducting research through their role at KU (research scientists, academic staff, etc.).  Research staff should get permission from their supervisor/PI before submitting an opportunity. 
  • Graduate students: If a graduate student would like to post an opportunity that is directly tied to the faculty advisor's research, the opportunity should be posted by the faculty member.  If a graduate student would like to post an opportunity related to their own research project, they should consult with their faculty advisor before posting the opportunity. 

We would like to have a diverse set of opportunities (sciences, professional schools, arts, etc.) available for students, so we encourage people from all departments to submit opportunities.  Please email us at cur@ku.edu if you have a question about your eligibility as a mentor.

 

Writing a Job Description

The opportunity you post can be part of a larger project, a pilot project, or be designed to provide preliminary data for future research or creative projects.  While some tasks performed by undergraduate researchers may be fairly basic, the idea is that the student is increasingly included in the intellectual work of the research over time.

Tips for writing job descriptions

  • Use simple language: To appeal to the typical undergraduate student, write your job description as you would a TED talk: avoid jargon, keep it simple, and emphasize the broad appeal and value of your project.
  • Describe the nature of the work: Try to give the student a clear picture of the type of work that they would be doing so they know what they are signing up for. Provide specific details about the tasks that the student would do as well as the general dispositions that would make a student well-suited toward a position.  Examples include:
    • Ceramics: "Tasks will begin with mixing clay and glazes, recording and organizing test results such as working properties, texture and color of materials. Depending on the method of production the student will learn various mold-making and casting processes, glazing and/or painting, kiln loading, and will be expected to assist in the packing and shipping of artwork to out-of-state exhibitions. Other tasks will include maintaining an organized workspace and assisting with moving and photographing work. Due to the nature of my work many tasks are repetitive and hands-on. You will get dirty."
    • History: "The research assistant will find appropriate documents by combing online sites and going through the stacks in the library; copy or transcribe the documents, highlighting the best parts; take down all bibliographic information (including potential copyright issues); and file them, either through Dropbox or with a program called EndNote.  Applicants should be interested in history, curious, enjoy detective work, organized, an excellent reader, and detail oriented. Patience also helps, since the process is a little like digging for gold -- you don't always find it."
  • Make the time commitment clear: Think about the length of time (in terms of hours per week and duration of work) that will be required to have the experience be beneficial for both you and the student.  Some faculty may need students for just a few weeks, whereas others might need a multi-semester commitment. Aligning expectations at the outset can help both you and the student have a good experience.
  • Clearly state deal-breakers: Make sure you clearly state any scheduling requirements or qualifications that would be a deal-breaker for a student to succeed in your position, such as that they need to be available for 3-hour blocks of time during the day; we don't want a student applying for a position that won't work for them.  One example:
    • Biology: "The ideal student for this project is excited to learn about evolutionary biology and animal behavior.  The student will need to have a set schedule each week, though the exact schedule is flexible. The student must be available during regular working hours for at least four two-hour blocks a week, but fewer, longer blocks are good as well.  The student must have attention to detail, be organized and be willing to ask questions.  The student will need to do some problem solving and troubleshooting because the experiments to be done have never done before.  The experiments are not technically difficult, but may require some thought, as well as trial and error, to be executed properly.  The student will need to be persistent and not easily discouraged. This project does not require any field specific knowledge or experience.  All that is needed is a willingness to try."

Brainstorming ideas for student positions

While having students work as research assistants is common in some disciplines, in others it may take some creative thinking to think of ways that an undergraduate might assist you on your own research/creative work. To get ideas about what types of tasks an undergraduate research assistant might do, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are there elements of your research that would require relatively few skills to get started, but would benefit from lots of hands?
  • Do you have any side-projects to your research that a student could take on?  If the project takes off, it would contribute to your research, but if it doesn’t, it wouldn’t negatively affect your research.
  • Are there parts of your research that you could delegate to students?
  • What checks could you bring into the process to ensure that the student contributions are of high quality?
Mentors can also email Nikki Perry, Assistant Director with KU's Center for Undergraduate Research, to schedule a time to brainstorm ideas for how to utilize an undergraduate research assistant.

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Research teaches critical thinking and problem solving — top skills sought by employers
The Research Experience Program has certified more than 2,000 students since 2005
KU is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research
More than 1,200 students have received Undergraduate Research Awards since 1986
More than 150 mentors sponsored undergraduate projects through the Center for Undergraduate Research each year
KU's first valedictorian, Flora Richardson, conducted research as an undergraduate before graduating in 1873
Highlight your research on your transcript: Get certified through the Research Experience Program
Use research to apply what you learned in the classroom to a real problem
Students who perform research develop strong relationships with KU faculty
Research is a hands-on way to explore career options
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