The selection of a faculty mentor to guide your development and supervise your work is one of the most important aspects of the UROP process—and often one of the most challenging. Start early and look for the best match for you considering your interests, personality, learning preferences, availability and goals. 

Check out UROP's Guide to Finding a Faculty Mentor to get started.

Scholarship as a Conversation

“Scholarship as conversation” is the exchange of ideas among researchers and creative practitioners, with new insights and discoveries over time as information is shared and interpreted with different perspectives.
ACLR Framework for Information Literacy

Entering the Conversation

As a student you have been asked to answer many questions after long nights studying alone, but working as a scholar is a collaborative process enabled by your curiosity and creativity.  The knowledge and insight you bring to the conversation is not always measured by your GPA and your ability to contribute involves more than technical skills.

What you do as a student answering questions in the classroom is only part of your story.  You have your own questions—many without answers and some in need of new answers.  Participating in research and creative work puts you in the scholarly conversation.  Your curiosity leads to the questions that can move the conversation in new directions.

Preparing to Meet

Before you meet with a potential mentor you should consider what you want from your research, scholarly or creative project experience and learn as much as possible about the faculty member’s work.  Read at least one of their recent publications, which are usually listed on their department website profile.  Reach out using the "first contact" email template below.

Work with Career Services to discover your strengths so you can discuss your personality and learning styles more effectively and get your resume ready to share with faculty and apply for positions in Boulder and beyond.


  • Get to know one another
  • Define your working relationship
  • Discuss preferred communication methods
  • Establish expectations
  • Outline goals
  • Learn about required skills, training, prerequisites, etc.


As you meet with faculty, you should discuss the faculty member’s work and learn about their expectations for students.  Consider asking some of the discussion questions included below.  Your ultimate success will depend, in part, on the following factors:

  •  Your understanding of what the project entails
  •  Your understanding of your mentor’s expectations
  •  Your knowledge of the relevant academic literature
  •  Your mastery of the requisite skills and methods
  •  Your ability to work independently and with others
  •  Your ability to manage your time effectively

First Contact Email Template

Consider using this template to make "first contact" with potential mentors:

Dr./Professor Your Contact's Last Name,

I’m a # Year student studying major(s)/minor(s) and currently exploring opportunities for undergraduate research, scholarly and creative work.  I learned about your work faculty’s expertise—e.g. “in arctic ecosystems” your source—e.g. “on the department’s website” and would appreciate the opportunity to talk with you about it.


What interests you and what questions you have about their work—e.g. “I read your article on…and am interested in learning more about…” The better informed you are about their work, the more productive your conversations will be.

How their work advances your academic and professional goals—e.g. “I plan to…and think experience with…will help me…"

What you bring to the potential partnership, noting relevant strengths, previous experiences, courses taken, and current activities—e.g. “I’m comfortable doing…, have experiencing working with…, have taken courses in…, and am currently…” You might consider attaching a resume or CV.

I’m available for a meeting or phone call at the following dates/times and am happy to find other times as needed.

Note when you are available to meet with as much flexibility as possible—not just your preferred times.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Your Full Name

Your Contact Information—i.e. email, phone, etc.

Discussion Questions

  • What is your approach to working with undergraduates?
  • What methods (resources, tools, theories, etc.) do you use in your work?
  • What skills (training, certifications, course pre-requisites) would I need to work with you?
  • How do you prefer to communicate (email, phone, text, etc.)?
  • What initially interested you about your field of study?
  • How did you get started? Who helped?
  • What questions keep you going?
  • What do you hope your work will accomplish?
  • Is your work more individual or team-based?
  • If the work is team based, how often do members meet?  Who are the other members?
  • Can we meet again?