Even as inches of snow cover the ground, many Cornell students are already preparing to apply for summer research spots with labs and universities across the country.
Through summer research, students typically design and implement their own graduate-level research with faculty guidance. Most programs run for eight to ten weeks.
Program applications are typically due in early winter. Some Cornell students dedicate time over winter break to search for summer research opportunities.
William Fox ’26 is currently wrapping up the application process for summer research positions.
“I started my search for summer research towards the end of the fall semester and pretty heavily over winter break,” Fox said. “I hope to submit my applications by Feb. 1, which [is] the standard deadline for most programs [I am interested in].”
Students generally seek summer research positions to bolster their resumes and enrich their educational journeys. Summer research provides students with intuition and skills for their future careers, according to Liz Hartman, assistant director of experiential learning at CALS.
“Summer research is a great way to try out research to see if it is something you want to pursue more in the future,” Hartman said. “No matter what you decide, you can build transferable skills that will enhance your resume and preparedness for future opportunities.”
Fox is looking for biological sciences, chemistry and molecular imaging research positions to complement his pre-med curriculum.
“I am interested in summer research in order to further my knowledge of scientific processes and approach the medical field through a more multidisciplinary approach,” Fox said. “I believe that summer research will provide me with the valuable skills and experience necessary to achieve my long-term goal of pursuing a career in medicine.”
Siena Larrick ’23 was a general research assistant for the Little Moose Field Station in the Adirondacks through the Cornell Adirondack Fishery Research Program. Larrick applied to the program due to encouragement from the teaching staff for the class BIOEE 4560: Steam Ecology.
Through summer research, Larrick gained insight into different research approaches, such as fieldwork and data analysis.
“I learned to think critically about how we choose the research questions we ask and methods we use, which in turn shapes the information we can make available to managers, policymakers and communities,” Larrick said.
Siobhan Hull ’24 participated in research with the S M Sehgal Foundation in Gurugram, India through the CALS Global Fellows Program last summer. She interviewed local radio station leaders to determine the function of community radio stations in inspiring climate movements.
“I was able to see first-hand the passion and dedication of community radio leaders, and I was inspired by their commitment to their communities,” Hull said.
Students may find searching for such competitive opportunities to be intimidating. Hartman recommends networking and utilizing Cornell resources.
“[Reach out to your] advisors, TAs and peers, review the “research” module in the Career Development Toolkit and look for resources on your department’s website,” Hartman said. “[You can also] check out the Cornell Undergraduate Resource Board.”
Fox has been utilizing online job sites and Cornell advising services throughout his current search.
“I have been looking for positions through certain job sites, such as Indeed and LinkedIn, as well as scanning for opportunities provided through the Cornell Health Professions Advising Center,” Fox said.
Hull said that paying attention to her department’s emails made it easier for her to find programs that matched her interests.
“Your department often receives information about opportunities that are not available or are harder to find on more general Cornell pages, and they are likely to be within your field of interest,” Hull said. “I also think that your professors and advisor are really great resources as they can help guide you to positions that match your interest, or they [might] have heard of another professor looking for research assistants.”
Larrick similarly found a position through communications from the environment & sustainability department. They also utilized the Office of Undergraduate Research’s Summer Opportunities page and the Office of Undergraduate Biology’s Guide to Finding Summer Experiences and Summer Research Database.
Hull found that participating in summer research informed her post-graduation plans.
“I have long wanted to pursue a career that is centered around community work,” Hull said, “and my research position only further confirmed that.”