Exploring research and possible mentors

Stage 2 is designed to help you think about the steps involved in developing a thesis topic and selecting a mentor. In this stage you begin to explore possible thesis topics and meet with potential thesis mentors. You are likely to consider:

  • What am I truly curious about?
  • What qualities should I seek in a thesis mentor?
  • What is the best project for me considering my career and life goals?
  • What projects have other students done successfully?

You have options within Stage 2. Whichever option you choose, Stage 2 lays the groundwork. You are encouraged to complete Stage 2 early in your HC career but after completing Stage 1. Most complete it within the first six terms of enrolling in the HC. You will receive occasional reminders to complete Stage 2 until you have done so. If you have questions, please contact your HC academic advisor.

If your plan has changed and you need to update your Thesis Map, see the Thesis Map update.

Option 1

Register for HC 408 Stage 2: Explore & Build


Option 2

Complete Stage 2: Explore & Build tasks independently.

Task 1: Review a completed thesis.

Choose a completed HC thesis online, available through the Scholars Archive. If you prefer to view printed copies in the HC thesis library, visit the HC advising office to make arrangements. Read carefully the introduction and conclusion/results sections, and scan the rest of the thesis. Then report on the thesis you reviewed.

Task 2: Attend an HC Student-Faculty Mixer.

Student-faculty mixers are excellent opportunities to connect with faculty members, learn about their research, and potentially get involved in projects that could inform your own thesis. Don’t worry if you aren’t ready to begin research or aren’t sure about your interests; these events are intended to help you explore opportunities and make connections. Do approach the mixer seriously: Dress in attire you are comfortable making a first impression with and be prepared to discuss your interests and/or academic background. Some faculty members may even ask for a resume.

2019-2020 Mixer Schedule

Each college will have a student-faculty mixer per year.  For the 2019-2020 academic year mixers will be held during Fall and Winter term, there will be no mixers during Spring term. 

  • Fall Term: College of Engineering, College of Science, Division of Earth Sciences (College of Agriculture Sciences; College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences; and College of Forestry)
  • Winter Term: Division of Health Sciences (Pharmacy, Vet-Med, and College of Public Health and Human Sciences), College of Liberal Arts, and College of Business

Current schedule details and registration information

Past Mixer Presentations

Past HC mixers information, from 2013 to present, are a valuable resource to learn about research at OSU, faculty research interests, and faculty contact information.  

Past HC Mixer Presentations

Task 3: Interview a thesis mentor-eligible faculty member.

This task will help support you in the process of choosing a mentor and help you think about different mentoring styles. Finding a mentor whose expectations and style match your needs is one of the most important factors in a positive and successful thesis experience, and the interview is an opportunity to begin thinking about how a mentor can best support your thesis work. Assistant professors, associate professors, professors, and senior instructors who are tenure-track faculty at OSU are eligible to be thesis mentors. Non-tenured faculty must be approved by petition to the HC. It is important to ask your potential mentor about their tenure-track status. For other tips, see our Finding a Mentor page.

To set up an interview, contact the faculty member by email to request a 30-minute meeting. Express your interest in the potential mentor’s research. Remember when you approach potential mentors for interviews, you are only asking for a meeting. Neither of you should feel obligated to commit to a mentoring arrangement just yet. In fact, you are encouraged to repeat the interview process with several faculty members to ensure a good match.

Keep in mind how busy these professionals are. Be friendly, flexible, appreciative in all communications, and always respectful of his or her time constraints. The general protocol is to wait one week for a response to your email, then send a follow up email; if email is unsuccessful, attempt to make phone contact, then move on to other faculty members.

Task 4: Complete online ethics training.

Research institutions have oversight committees on campus to maintain vigilance over all research activity. In most cases, this includes ethics training prior to participating in research.

To complete the training:

  1. Find a block of time in your schedule to complete it. It is estimated to take approximately 3 hours, but can be completed in several sessions.
  2. Go to the Institutional Review Board's training website and select the CITI course.
  3. On the CITI page, click on “register” to create an account. Affiliate your account with OSU so that your certificate of completion can be automatically forwarded to the appropriate office.
  4. Enter your personal information and create a username and password.
  5. Select 'Add a Course or Update Learner Group.'
  6. Review the Human Subjects Protection curriculum options selecting either Social/Behavioral Research Investigators and Key Personnel or Biomedical Resources.
  7. Complete curriculum as outlined.
  8. Create a PDF of your certificate of completion and upload it: IRB certificate collection

“I had to work alone on my project a majority of the time because I went into the lab at odd hours to be able to keep my class and work schedule going. My mentor adjusted her schedule…whenever I was available. She really went above and beyond all my expectations.”
-Whitney Humphrey, Honors College Class of 2010