I have applied for a summer research program for 2022. The application involved listing a preference order of professors I would like to work under. Each professor had a one line summary of the work that they were offering for the summer listed (for example “Analysis of XX data”, “Study of model system“, etc.). There’s one professor who I really want to work with, so I put him first on my preference order and filled the rest with other professors who’s work wasn’t as interesting but definitely something I would love to do.

Due to the project listing being so uninformative, I really want to know more about it (details which I can’t simply guess from the labs' research profile or previous publications) and at the same time put myself on his radar showing my interest in his labs work with respect to the summer.

How should I mail him if all I’m asking for is details about the project he’s offering? Usually for summer applications I would come up with a research-idea based on the labs' previous works and discuss that with a prof., but if the project is already decided beforehand how do I show genuine interest and initiative about his work? Should I even mail him about something like this in the first place?

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1 Answer 1


Yes, you can email them for more information. In particular, you could ask them if there are one or two readings that you could do to familiarize yourself with the project they are sponsoring.

Keep the mail short and don't lobby for a position with long explanations about yourself. You want your mail to be easy to read and easy to reply to.

If you send mail to more than one, make each one individual, mentioning their specific project.

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