Finding a Research Mentor

Professor Jonathan Snow and 2018 SRI Participant Nora McNamara-Bordewick '20 - Research on Combating Bee Parasites

How Do I Find a Research Mentor?

To participate in SRI, students must identify a research mentor in whose lab they will work over the summer. It is each student's responsibility to contact faculty, discuss the possibility of working in their lab, and secure confirmation of faculty interest. Please click here for a list of mentors at Barnard.

Here are the steps:

Identify your Broad Area of Interest

Think about interesting classes you took, or something that you read about in the news, heard about from faculty and friends, or through social media. Perhaps you thought, “This is really cool – I’d like to hear more about it.” This is a good indication that you would enjoy working on this topic longer term.  You can also consider whether you want to work with humans, animals, or cells (for example).  Do you want to work in a large or small lab?

Find People Who Work in this Field

Look at faculty profiles on websites at Barnard/Columbia and beyond. Often the best way is to talk to your academic advisor or the SRI representative in your department. They know a lot of people and probably can point you in the right direction.

Approaching Your Potential Mentor

Approach the potential research mentor by email, express your interest in their work and ask if they have room for an undergraduate student in their research group. Don’t be shy – all those people know that it is your job to look for research opportunities and they will expect these requests. When you contact them, be specific about your interest in their work so they realize that you have done your homework and know what you are talking about.  Follow up on their response and ask them for an appointment. If you have not heard back after one week, it is reasonable to call to ask if the potential mentor has had a chance to review your request. In case you reach only voicemail, leave a brief message confirming your name, your hope to be able to work with him/her and that you will resend your original email in the event that it had not been received. Then resend your email.

Meeting with Your Potential Mentor

Meet with the potential mentor and discuss possible opportunities. Be flexible in terms of your project ideas – the students/mentor partnership works best when both sides are excited about the project. Talk about the SRI time line and whether there is an opportunity to build a senior thesis on the summer project in the subsequent year if that is your interest.

Talking about Funding

If you are planning to work with an external mentor, do mention that there are limited funds at Barnard to support students over the summer through the SRI program and that any contribution your mentor can make to your stipend would increase your chances to obtain funding for this summer project. Again – all mentors know that research costs money and you don’t need to feel that this is an awkward question. If they have no funds to help support you, say that you hope that the Barnard SRI will be able to cover you. Remember that there are several funding sources that support SRI students.

Reaching Out to Multiple Potential Mentors

Don’t hesitate to be in touch with multiple potential mentors at the same time. Some may never respond to you because they are away or currently have no opportunities and/or are too busy to respond.

Additional Support

Remember that your SRI Departmental Representatives are sources of insight and ideas about mentors. Students are encouraged to reach out to them. You may also send questions about the selection process to Finally, if you would like additional advice about reaching out to mentors, you can schedule a conversation (or complete a walk-in appointment with a Peer Career Advisor) at Beyond Barnard.

List of Banard Research Mentors


Faculty member

Contact information

Research interests

Bauer, Elizabeth

Neural mechanisms underlying emotional memory

Callahan, HIlary

Ecological genetics

Mansfield, Jennifer


Developmental genetics, Vertebrate development

Glendinning, John Chemical senses, ingestive behavior, food likes and dislikes

Miranda, JJ

Genome organization of human viruses associated with cancer

Morton, Brian

Evolution of plastid DNA

Pischedda, Allison

Evolutionary Genetics & Animal Behavior

Snow, Jonathan The cellular stress responses of the honey bee


Faculty member

Contact information

Research interests

Austin, Rachel

Environmental bioinorganic chemistry; C-H and C-O bond activation; Inorganic neurochemistry

Buzzeo, Marissa

Redox-active biological systems; Determination of fundamental thermodynamic data and development of optimized electrochemical biosensors

Crowther, Andrew

Raman spectroscopy to study fundamental reactions of the nanomaterial graphene

Merrer, Dina

Mechanisms of intermolecular carbene additions to strained cyclic compounds

Rojas, Christian

Organic chemical synthesis of amino sugars

Vizcarra, Christina Mechanism of actin filament formation, and how proteins called formins initiate and regulate actin filament assembly

Environmental Science

Faculty member

Contact information

Research interests

Bower, Peter Forest ecology, Hudson River environment
Maenza-Gmelch, Terryanne Forest ecology, bird conservation 

Mailloux, Brian

Arsenic in groundwater, Geomicrobiology

Rodriguez, Sedelia Volcanology 

Stute, Martin

Global change, water, and energy

Physics & Astronomy

Faculty member

Contact information

Research interests

Halpin-Healy, Timothy

Phase transitions, critical phenomena, and the renormalization group

Mukergee, Reshmi

High-energy astrophysics and astroparticle physics


Faculty member

Contact information

Research interests

Balsam, Peter

Adapting behavior to changing environments

Heuer, Larry

Psychology of procedural justice

McCrink, Koleen

Development of numerical cognition

Remez, Robert

Relationships among perception, cognition and language.

Romeo, Russell

Effects of pubertal maturation on brain and behavior

Silver, Rae

Circadian rhythms, role of mast cells in brain

** Note: the faculty who run the Neuroscience & Behavior Program are located in the Biology and Psychology Departments. See the Neuroscience website for their names.

If you are looking for a summer internship outside NYC, review the internship opportunities listed by HSPP (many of which are funded).