There are plenty of opportunities for research in the summers of first and second year. Remember, once you enter clinical school, your summer breaks will be significantly shorter – so seriously consider this opportunity. Do not limit yourself to lecturers/supervisors you know – research groups often accept new students. There are two main ways of getting a research placement: organise your own, or apply for an undergraduate summer research programme. If you choose to organise your own project, it is important to apply for funding. Grants can add CV points and the application process is a good way to ensure your supervisor creates a concrete plan for your internship.
Start early by contacting potential supervisors. You may already have a research group in mind – otherwise, look on department websites for group leaders in an area of research that interests you or contact lecturers that you particularly liked. Remember, especially starting off, any research experience is beneficial and it certainly does not necessarily need to be in the area of your future career!
Meet the researcher in person – get a feel for whether you might get along with them. Make sure to discuss the expectations that you and your potential supervisor might have. It is highly recommended to have a realistic aim with your supervisor to achieve with the project e.g. conference poster, presentation, publication. It may be a daunting prospect – but remember you may be devoting up to two months of your life to working for them.
If you want to apply for a summer research programme, the deadlines range from early January to mid March. If you have arranged your own placement, now is the time to apply for funding, societies often offer these kind of studentships. A comprehensive list of both summer research programmes and studentship funds can be found here:
If you are unsuccessful or you have missed these deadlines, the HE Durham Fund offers a late deadline.
3) Summer and after
Enjoy carrying out your research and learn as much as you can!
After your project, write an abstract of your work. You may be asked to submit this to your funders. With the support of your supervisor, submit this abstract to national/international conferences. It is always worth trying. Oral presentations are more prestigious but poster presentations are much easier to be accepted for. You can also submit your abstract to one of the many student research conferences held throughout the year in Cambridge, including CUSCRS’ own INSPIRE conference.