Contact Professors

A guide on connecting with a research mentor.

We have attached a sample email format below, but feel free to modify it!

Example Email Format:

Dear Dr. [Insert Name],

Introduce yourself in this first paragraph, as if you are talking with them in person. Be sure to include your name, what school you are from, and what grade you are in.

Explain what about their work interests you. Be sure to discuss a few of their research papers so the professor knows you are interested and so you can become better acquainted with their interests and field of study. If you can think of a question or two to ask, feel free to do so, but it is not necessary. It is more important to convey a sense of interest and show your passion about their work.

The third paragraph can be more personal and can help the professor/researcher to learn more about you. Use this paragraph to show your own personal interests and passions, why this lab is for you and what you want to contribute to the lab. Ask for a meeting, if it is possible, this will further convey your commitment and interest in their research and help you gain a better understanding of who they are and what they do. Do not forget to thank or show your appreciation for their time, because researching is a privilege, not a right.


[Insert Name]

Real Example Email:

Dear Dr. _____,

I hope you are doing well and staying healthy! My name is _______ and I am a junior at Tompkins High School. I am interested in your areas of research and would be grateful for the opportunity to work as a research assistant in your lab.

I am very interested in the application of computer science to medicine, which was how I was introduced to your research profile. I looked over a couple of your papers, and I was especially intrigued by your focus on using computation to analyze gene expression to predict the outcomes of various diseases and prognoses, such as patient response to Neoadjuvant chemotherapy and prognosis to lung adenocarcinoma. While reading those, I had this idea: could we also apply this analysis of gene expression to determine prognosis to COVID-19? Many people have different responses to the virus, and studies have found that people of different blood types respond differently. Maybe certain genes would make a person more susceptible to a bad response to the virus? Or maybe it would be interesting to predict how people may respond to the different vaccines that are currently being tested based on gene expression?

My career goals are to practice medicine and innovate computational algorithms to aid in detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of disease. Towards those ends, I would be extremely grateful if I could work under your expertise and mentorship. Please respond to this email if you have anything else you want me to send or discuss. Thank you for your time!


[Insert Name]

General Advice & Tips

  • The emails for professors and researchers can be found on the faculty page for the specific institution you are interested in!
  • Create a list of professors you are interested in performing research with. If the professor you email does not reply in about 3 days, send a followup or email another professor.
  • It is important to remember to be respectful, gracious, and, most importantly, interested in their research.
  • Make sure your emails are grammatically correct and well thought out. If you would like some feedback regarding your email, feel free to email us!
  • Sometimes professors are not interested in having high school students in their labs, are busy that semester or summer, or simply do not respond. Do not take any of these personally!
  • Make sure to check your email carefully before you send! Make sure you have addressed the professor correctly and attached your resume/CV.