Find Your Mentor
Finding a mentor that aligns with your research objectives and with your research style takes effort and time.
In this page, we’ve attempted to consolidate for you a number of avenues you can consider to find the right match.
VP&S student research database
In this database, you will find 300+ Faculty organized by Department, who have mentored VP&S student research projects over the past few years. For each Faculty, you may click on View Full Profile to check their Columbia profile, and you may click on Show More to see the student projects they have mentored, the program the projects were part of (Summer Research, Scholarly Project, Research Year), and the year in which they were carried out.
Ongoing list of research projects actively looking for students
Student Research at VP&S reaches out yearly to Faculty (Call for Mentors) to find out if they have ongoing or upcoming research projects where MD students would be needed. This is not an exhaustive list of possibilities, since it only contains mentors who actively replied at that point in time to such Call for Mentors, and there may be many who are open to mentoring and may not have answered the call. Therefore, you should by no means restrict your search to mentors and projects in this list, but it could be a useful reference. The list can be accessed through the VP&S Student Research Courseworks site with your UNI and Password. If you are looking for SPP Projects, please check the SPP Courseworks site.
PubMed: an exhaustive platform with publications by mentor
If you’re looking for Faculty’s publications, PUBMED is a logical next step to follow from 1 and 2. This exhaustive national database contains only published work, and thus may not reflect some projects that are in process. If you already have a name in mind, your search will be more targeted, but you can also approach it by field or establish search queries and work your way down to a specific name.
NIH Reporter: a platform with ongoing grants by mentor
If you’re looking for active grants in a specific field or by a specific mentor, REPORTER will offer you an overview. Note however that it will only show projects with an active NIH grant, but there are several other research financing sources that will not be included. Similarly to PUBMED, If you already have a name in mind, your search will be more targeted, but you can also approach it by institution/department or specific search text and work your way down to a specific name. CUIMC’s Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research also tracks faculty grants, so you can see what a particular faculty member is working on currently.
CUIMC departmental websites
Every division and department at the medical center has a website with a list of Faculty, and most provide a list of research interests. If you have a general idea of an area that you might be interested in, spend some time going through the specific areas of focus for each individual faculty member. Be mindful that some faculty have large, well-funded research operations, with research coordinators and research residents and fellows, while other faculty members do research as a supplement to a primarily clinical career. Both scenarios may yield a highly successful mentor-mentee collaboration, but be sure to understand in advance what resources will be available to you. Finally, don’t be narrow in your search. Do not forget to consider faculty in School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the Nursing School and the Morningside campus. CUIMC is complex and it can be challenging to find some information online.
Although choosing a field and finding a mentor can be challenging, it is important to remember that you are committing to a project, not irrevocably setting your future in stone. Good research in any field can be enjoyable and makes an excellent addition to your CV irrespective of what field you may later chose to apply in.
We have a large and varied group of Faculty doing research at CU, and there are many more willing mentors than there are students. While some students approach a potential mentor with a fully formulated, original research idea, most identify a suitable mentor first that is doing work in a particular area or with a specific research focus. A student and mentor can then work together to craft an interesting and workable project that matches the mentor’s resources and can be in the time frame of the research project you’re carrying out.
Once you identify faculty whose research interests resonate with yours, contact them directly by e-mail (or phone or in person). Send them a crisp, one paragraph note that identifies you as a VP&S med student who is looking for a research opportunity. Briefly explain your background and why their work interests you. Attach a one-page CV that highlights your education, any honors/awards, any research experience/thesis/publications/presentations. And thank them for their time, of course – recognizing that they may not have any positions but could refer you to others. And don't take it personally if they do not return your message.
Once you have identified a potential mentor, you can then meet with them, discuss projects, and determine what kind of funding opportunities may be relevant. Your mentor may have their own ideas and/or their own source of funding, though you’ll find details on most on our Student Research Funding page.