I have read several questions for this topic, and haven't found one which is comprehensive enough for me and has all this factors that are unique to my case. I have won a special grant from an educational fund and now I can do a self-funded research internship in US. I am a third year undergraduate student majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering. The biggest struggle to date is to find a good lab and professor to work with. The process of looking up labs and researchers is time-consuming, and my emails rarely get responses. If you can kindly describe some strategies that might help me accelerate the process.

By the way, I want to do research in Computer Vision and/or AI and human interaction. If you have any suggestions for labs or professors, who are doing interesting and relevant work in these fields, can you please write them down?

Additionally, I wanted to ask whether it is acceptable to call professor's office and ask to read my emails, if they do not respond. Will it be considered rude?

  • 2
    Yes, probably rude. Why not work with a local professor?
    – Buffy
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 21:02
  • The point of the grant is to have it somewhere in US, so that the experience gained helps you land a PhD acceptance. I am working with local professor now, and hopefully we will soon have a conference paper. Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 7:29

2 Answers 2


Not very organized, but here goes.

Make a list of your specific interests (not just for now, going forward: are you interested in graduate school or work afterwards?). Areas of particular interest? Make a list of potential schools, their strengths (and possible non-matches with your interests, "weaknesses" is just too strong a word). Look which ones most closely match you. Check at their policies with respect to students like you (do they have an office for foreign students, or some equivalent?). Try to contact students/student ombudsman/... for a insider view. Check for alternatives for housing (it can be rather expensive, specially if you need to pay for utilities!). Check the courses offered, see which ones are near your interests. Check what requisites the courses ask for, see if you have them (or can learn them on your own).

In the end, this is a very personal decision, it is very little we can offer apart from general drivel like mine.

  • Hi! Thank you very much for your response. Yes, I am interested in graduate school, particularly PhD in this field. I have made a spreadsheet with all of the universities I want to try applying, then I am just checking their websites and looking for professors working in Computer Vision. The hardest part though is reaching the professors, and I don't know whether calling them (if I know their office phone numbers) will be rude or not. Also, is it rude to try to reach them through their grad students of post-docs? Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 7:33

I have won a special grant from an educational fund and now I can do a self-funded research internship in US.

This depends a lot on the scientific field you are working in.

In AI and computer science, you certainly could consider contributing to some existing open source project.

I happen to have a PhD in AI (defended in Paris, in 1990) and you might consider contributing to one of the following open source projects:

  • Bismon, a static source code analyzer, funded by CHARIOT and DECODER European projects

  • GCC, a compiler for C, C++, Ada, Fortran....

  • Frama-C, another static source code analysis framework

  • RefPerSys, an open source symbolic artificial intelligence framework for Linux

  • many GNU software projects are developed by academics mostly.

  • OpenCV is a computer vision library

And you'll find thousands of other open source projects on github and gitlab or sourceforge

My personal recommendation is to send emails to professors.

Because they are used to read many emails, and they could either ignore yours, or take a couple of days to answer you. Making a direct phone call seems rude, if the person you are calling never met you or did not invite you for a phone meeting by email.

Of course, the organization having given you that special grant should provide both good advice and constraints.

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