Finding Mentors & Projects

When you have narrowed your interests down to one or more fields, you can seek advice on things to keep in mind when choosing a mentor, and also ask for suggestions on which research opportunities would be good for you. Consider the following resources: 

Research at Penn – Most students conduct research at Penn. You definitely want to work with someone responsive and available, who is clearly committed to helping you learn about the scientific process. Once you have chosen a mentor, set up a schedule of periodic meetings to develop the project, get pointers on appropriate background reading, and perhaps to spend some time learning techniques. There's an incredible network of people who can help you, but you need to be proactive and thorough to take advantage of it. Consider reaching out to:

  1. Course directors and lecturers, department chairs or division chiefs, directors of centers or institutes, and graduate group chairs, if their expertise is in one of your fields of interest.
  2. Advisory Deans. Talk to your advisory dean about your research interests, they may be able to connect you with potential mentors.
  3. Other helpful folks:
    - Dr. Mark Neuman, Faculty Director of Medical Student Scholarship and Research
    - Dr. Skip Brass, Associate Dean and Director of the Combined Degree & Physician Scholar Programs 
    - Dr. Horace Delisser, Program Director of our NHLBI grant for underrepresented minority students
    - Dr. John Farrar, Professor of Epidemiology in Biostatistics and Epidemiology
    - Chinwe (ChiChi) Nwadiogbu, Associate Director of the Combined Degree & Physician Scholar Programs
  4. Fellow students. First years with extensive research experience and/or more senior students who have already been through this process may be helpful.

Here are the main resources/places to start, especially if you have no idea what you would like to do. These links include information about a variety of funded opportunities as well as their primary contacts, who may be able to assist you with identifying potential mentors in your field of interest:

Other resources:

Research Outside of Penn (eg another University or a global health setting) - Early planning is essential to ensure that you can coordinate a project, secure a mentor, and confirm that your timeline does not interfere with your responsibilities at Penn. Here are some resources that include information on opportunities beyond Penn:

Additional Resources & FAQs – Many of our Penn medical students, who have conducted prior short term and year long research projects, have advice and FAQs that they'd like to share with interested students. In addition, our office has collated helpful links that may be worth checking out: