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Find a Research Position

How PSA scholarship recipients can find a research assistantship

Many Ogden Honors students receive LSU's President's Student Aide scholarship. This award provides an excellent path to research; PSA can place you in an office or library doing clerical work, but it can also give you the opportunity to work on current research projects within your major. In general we recommend choosing between the following three strategies for finding a good fit with your PSA appointment. We suggest all three with the intent that you will become actively engaged as a research assistant as soon as possible, and in the most appropriate and professional manner.  Each successive strategy listed can bring you closer to those goals.

Steps to Securing a Research Assistantship

1) Learn about existing positions.

The first strategy, the most straightforward, is to go to the Office of Enrollment Management, in 1146 Pleasant Hall, and ask to see a list of what positions are available. If they have an opening in your department--or a related department--this could at least get you involved in work in the area of your interest, although it may mean that you end up doing simple clerical work.  Once in the department, though, you will be in a good position to meet faculty members, and learn of opportunities to assist in research.

2) Research individual faculty projects.

The second strategy is to study the department’s website, as well as the sites of similar departments in and out of your college, and examine the research agendas of individual faculty members. If you find a professor whose projects match your interest, then send a (very) polite email message explaining your interest in his or her research. Mention that your PSA scholarship can pay for you to work as a research assistant to the professor, at no cost to the department.  The problem with this strategy is that you are in essence “spamming” the professor, as you have no previous relationship. Be very careful not to harass the professor. (The professor may be very happy to hear your offer, though!) If the professor is interested in taking you on as an assistant, you would then go to the Office of Enrollment Management with a memo of support from the professor, and request a transfer to that department, being assigned as a “research assistant” under the supervision of the professor in question. 

3) Take classes with and get to know faculty conducting research in your area of interest.

The third strategy is by far the most sound, but it admittedly also takes the most time. After taking a few classes in your major, and after developing a classroom relationship with a professor, approach the professor and explain that you’d like to work as a research assistant on the professor’s research projects, and explain that PSA can pay for this to happen. The professor will be familiar with you, and you with the professor, which is a good indication you will be able to work effectively together. You would then follow the same procedure as strategy two, bringing a memo of support to Enrollment Management, and requesting a transfer.