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How do I find a Mentor?

mentorThe value of mentors

Students benefit tremendously from working with mentors. Mentors offer guidance into the research process, provide feedback on your progress, suggest ways to overcome roadblocks, and use their expertise to help you develop as a researcher.


Mentors also provide helpful advice and insight into next steps you may want to take in your academic or career path.

If you will be doing a research project, you will need to have a research mentor. This page provides some suggestions of ways to find a mentor to work with on a research project. Even if you do not plan to do a research project, though, it can be valuable to get to know people who can help you learn more about research; the suggestions on this page can also be used to find those kinds of mentors.

How to find a mentor

There are a number of different ways to find a mentor. First, find someone whose research is of interest to you.

Divisional and department websites

Explore the websites of departments and divisions that fit with your interests. They will list the faculty working in those departments. Click on various faculty members to see the type of research they are conducting to find some that interests you. Don’t limit yourself to just you major department, particularly if you have multidisciplinary interests.

Professors from classes

Think about current or past classes that you have particularly enjoyed; consider asking the course professor to be your mentor. We encourage students to have a topic in mind and attend office hours or speak to the professor after class.

Graduate students

Talk with graduate students in your department; TAs for your classes are a great place to start. Grad students have a good sense of the type of research being done in the department and can offer ideas about faculty members who are particularly good at working with undergraduates.

UC San Diego Faculty Profiles

This site allows you to search in a number of ways to find faculty working in particular areas.

PIVOT UC San Diego Faculty Profiles by research area

This site allows you to search by research area; you will need to be logged in via VPN (

REAL Portal

The Research Experience & Applied Learning (REAL) Portal helps students discover internships and other hands-on experiential learning opportunities.


Students can find potential mentors by attending events around campus, especially talks put on by their home departments. Go to department websites and look for seminars, colloquium series, “brown bags” or other events. Consider departments other than your own major as well.

Contacting potential mentors

Once you find a potential mentor, there are several ways to reach out to that person.


Emailing is often the best way to reach out to a potential mentor. The email should be fairly brief and should be professional in tone. Begin with “Dear Dr. xxx” or “Dear Professor xxx” (do not use the person’s first name and do not use Mr. Mrs., Ms., etc.). Include the following information in the email:

  • Who you are (name, year, major, any specific skills or past research experience)
  • Why you are emailing them (undergrad research mentorship)
  • What about their work specifically interests you (you want them to know that you have taken the time to look into what they do)
  • A concrete request (“Could you please let me know if you would be available to meet sometime in the next week or so to discuss the possibility of doing research with you?”)
  • Sign off professionally (e.g., “Sincerely, xxx”)

Office Hours

Office hours can also be a good way to contact a potential mentor. If you do go to office hours and there are a number of students there from the course the professor is teaching, those students should have priority in asking questions.

Recorded "How to Find a Mentor" Information Session


Frequently Asked Questions

Can a grad student or post-doc be my mentor?

Yes! Grad students and post-docs can oversee your research but some programs do require faculty or PIs to sign off on the research.


The Undergraduate Research Hub

Phone: (858) 534-1774
Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Location: Student Center Building B, 1st Floor
Mailing Address:
9500 Gilman Drive, Mail Code 0311
La Jolla, CA 92093-0311