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I am currently looking into applying for funding as an undergraduate summer research assistant. At the moment, two professors have agreed to allow me to work with them. Since I can't be sure that the funding application would be accepted, I am considering accepting the offer from both professors and going forward with applying for funding with both professors - is this a good idea? If so, should I let both professors know this? If not, could I try asking the prof's permission to do this, or would it be in my best interest to just decide on my top choice now and just pursue that?

Thanks in advance!

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You could do it with the permission of both professors, I think, though the funding agencies might disagree with that. But don't do it without at least their agreement. If the professors are at the same institution, perhaps you could work out something that they both participate in. There might be issues with that, of course.

But asking them both might also give you better information about which would be easier to work with. If one seems cooperative and the other not, it might be an indicator.

In general, asking is always a good thing to do.

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You’re likely applying for the same funds and being funded based on your grades and aptitude as a future researcher more than the merits of the proposed research. The purpose of these summer internships is to train you as a researcher, as much as contribute to a project.

Applying with both labs (if they’re st the same institution in the same field) does not increase your chances of getting funded. It’s best to be clear with both professors that you are considering the other lab. If you can choose between them ahead of time, you should let them know before they go to the effort to apply for funds on your behalf. They’re usually very understanding as long as you keep them informed but try not to take their support for granted.

What’s most important is that you don’t want to burn bridges with people in your field. This is an opportunity to build relationships for the long term with experts in your field of interest. I was in a similar situation as an undergraduate. I once politely turned down a summer project to apply for another research group. I ended up returning to the lab that I originally turned down later for a different project and ended up doing my PhD in that lab. Both professors are supportive mentors to this day. I’ve continued to publish papers with both of them after leaving the lab. They both supported my job applications after graduating.

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