Chemistry Professor & Chair
1. Who can do summer research?
2. How do I find summer research opportunities?
3. When should I begin looking for a research opportunity?
4. Who should I talk to about finding a position? Who can help me find a position?
5. What is included in an application for a summer research position?
6. Who can help me with my resume and cover letter?
7.Will I be paid if I am a student researcher?
8. Will I get academic credit if I do summer research?
9. I think I want to go to medical school. Should I do summer research?
10. What happens at a poster session? Should I attend the Macalester poster session if I have not conducted summer research?
11. How do I ask for a letter of recommendation?
12. Are there funds available for students to travel to national meetings?
13. I am an international student and am having difficulty finding research opportunities off-campus. Where can I find off-campus research positions for international students?
Any Macalester student who thinks they would like to do laboratory research, whether or not s/he is majoring in science, can apply for a summer research opportunity. Conducting research is a great experience to apply what you have been learning in class and labs and is especially important for science majors planning to apply to graduate school.
Find information about summer research opportunities on the SRO website for on-campus and off-campus experiences. Read about your science professors’ research projects and then talk to your professors about summer opportunities in their labs. Also, talk with students who did research during the past summer and ask them how they found their positions. Attend Macalester’s Annual Summer Research Poster Session in October and talk with the student presenters. The “Planning Your Summer” workshop held in November also provides invaluable information and gets you on track to meet application deadlines.
You should begin your search for a summer opportunity by December, but you can talk to experienced students and science faculty at any point during the academic year. When investigating various research opportunities, pay attention to the application deadlines. Some research institutions have deadlines in early February or sooner.
You should read about opportunities both on- and off-campus on the SRO website and then talk with science professors about their research and ask them if they know of other research opportunities. You should also talk with students who have done research in previous summers and ask them how they found a position. You may also make an appointment to talk with Joan Toohey, Director of SRO.
Applications typically include a transcript, a resume and a cover letter. In lieu of a cover letter, some programs will ask you to answer three or four questions. The questions usually ask about research interests and experience, career goals and why you are interested in a specific program. There is more information about how to answer these questions on the SRO website under the Applying section.
The folks in the MAX Center, especially the Science Counselor, can assist you with your resume and cover letter. The CDC also provides excellent assistance with resumes and cover letters. You can make an individual appointment at the MAX Center or the CDC. Summer research positions are very competitive and it is a good idea to have someone edit your application materials.
Yes, you will be paid a stipend to do summer research. Currently the summer stipend for 10 weeks of research at Macalester is $4000. If you conduct research on campus, you are eligible for 10 weeks of free, on-campus housing. Other off-campus programs offer comparable stipends and some programs also offer housing and others do not.
You will not receive academic credit for doing summer research. However, international students doing research off-campus should talk with the International Student Program and SRO about applying for credit if there are specific visa requirements about working off campus during the summer.
A summer of research is a great experience for students considering a career in health care. Talk with your HPAC advisor about doing summer research and other opportunities.
You should definitely attend the poster session if you have not conducted research. Students will be presenting posters which describe the summer research they conducted. You should select several posters that interest you and talk with the students who created the posters. Tell them that you have never done summer research and that this is your first time attending the poster session. The students will have an explanation that is designed for an audience that has not done research. Ask them if they enjoyed doing the research, what techniques they learned, and if it was beneficial for them. Also ask them how they found the opportunity and when they applied. They’ll be glad you asked.
One of the biology professors, Mark Davis, provided information about asking for a letter of recommendation and what is helpful for a professor when writing a letter. Professor Davis said, “The most important thing that I do as a faculty member is to support students in their academic, personal, and professional development. Often this assistance is in the form of letters of recommendation for jobs, off campus-study programs, and graduate and professional schools. The more information I have available to me, the better will be my letter of support for you.” See the Applying section for more specific instructions.
Students who travel to national academic meetings and present a poster can receive travel funds from the college. Students should apply to the Travel Grant fund. The typical grant is $350 if a student is presenting at the conference. The Science and Research Office (SRO) also has travel funds available for student travel to conferences. SRO will fund up to $450 for travel. Students must apply to the Travel Grant fund before requesting funds from the SRO. Contact Joan Toohey, SRO Director, to request travel funds from the SRO.
It can be challenging to find off-campus research opportunities. International students can apply for several opportunities funded by Macalester's HHMI grant. The research can be done at another institution and there are housing funds available. SRO has put together a list of opportunities for which International students are eligible.