A Friend in STEM


What is A Friend in STEM?

A Friend in STEM​ is a mentorship program that connects undergraduate students with scientist mentors at the University of Minnesota. As scientists, we know from experience that pursuing a career in STEM requires building a network of research and faculty mentors. We also realize that forming these connections can be difficult and intimidating. It is our goal through this program to leverage our experiences in graduate school and in labs at UMN to work for students - to help inform decisions about undergraduate research and support students if/when they choose to pursue graduate degrees. We believe that careers in STEM should be accessible to everyone and we hope that connecting with a Minnesota scientist will help students feel welcomed to this research community.

How does it work?

  • Fill out the interest form and we will match you with a graduate student, post-doc, or researcher on campus.

  • Once matched with a scientist mentor, you will receive a notification email from friendinstem@umn.edu.

  • This mentor will contact you within 2 weeks of our email to set up a meeting over Zoom.

  • Prior to meeting with your mentor, we recommend taking some time to reflect on your long and short term career goals, and how your mentor might be able to help you achieve them.

  • Once you meet with your mentor it is up to you to decide what comes next. Let your mentor know how best they can support you - whether that be monthly meetings to discuss progress toward your goals, or just one meeting to answer any questions you have about their field.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I plan to talk about when I meet with my mentor?

We try our best to match you with a mentor in your field of interest. They are an expert in this field and here to help you! Ask all the questions you can think of; how did they get started in research? Why are they in the field they are in? What are the different career options in their field? How can you prepare now for a career in research? What has their experience been like in research? What advice do they have? These are a few examples of questions that you could ask your mentor.

How many times should I meet with my mentor?

This is up to you and your mentor. We recommend meeting at least once via Zoom (and hopefully in person sometime soon) to get to know each other, but ultimately this is for you to decide. We have no requirements for meeting your mentor, and some students have found that communication via email is sufficient to answer their questions and get the support they need. Remember that this is to help you with your career! You will need to take responsibility and set up meetings with your mentor according to your goals.

I want to get involved in undergraduate research. Will my mentor be able to help me with this?

All Friend in STEM mentors are involved in research on a U of M campus and will be able to provide you with resources for getting involved in research. If this is something you are interested in, please specify it to them or contact us with any questions.

I want to talk to someone with experience in a specific field. Can you guarantee that my mentor’s experience will match my interests?

Although we do take student’s career goals/interests into account when assigning scientist mentors, we cannot guarantee that your mentor’s experience will perfectly match your interests. However, scientists and physicians are part of multidisciplinary professional networks, and it is likely that your mentor will have personal or professional connections to individuals with experience directly related to your career goals. Please feel free to ask your mentor about connecting you with these folks in order to broaden your mentor network!

What if I have other questions?

Please feel free to send any additional questions to friendinstem@umn.edu.


Getting involved in research:

At the University of Minnesota:

  • This page from the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) is a great place to start and can connect you to a number of different resources related to research opportunities for undergraduate students.

  • This page from the Center for Immunology (CFI) collects lots of resources for research around the University and also provides an opportunity to express interest in doing research in a CFI lab.

  • Office of Undergraduate Research lists many different programs to help UofM students get involved in research.

  • During the academic year:

    • Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) - Once you have found a research faculty mentor, submit an application for an UROP, which provides $1500 of 120 hours paid research time and $300 for additional expenses.

    • Grand Challenge UROP - Apply to join an existing multidisciplinary research team, receiving $1500 for 120 hours of paid research time.

    • International UROP - For students interested in doing research during and at their study abroad institution. Includes $2000 scholarship.

    • Directed Research/Directed Study - Get credit for working in a lab or field setting under faculty mentorship.

    • Student Employment - Some faculty may list paid research jobs through student employment, and even if a faculty member does not advertise paid positions, it is appropriate to ask faculty if they could support a paid position. Ask your FiS mentor on how best to broach this topic with prospective faculty mentors.

Outside the University of Minnesota:

  • List of summer programs outside the UofM can be found here.

  • Programs sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

    • Summer Internship Programs

    • NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program - The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Undergraduate Scholarship Program (UGSP) offers competitive scholarships to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are committed to careers in biomedical, behavioral, and social science health-related research. The program offers:

      • Scholarship support

      • Paid research training at the NIH during the summer (in Bethesda, MD near Washington, DC)

      • Paid employment and training at the NIH after graduation

  • Programs sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) can be found here.

Research Opportunities After Graduation:

Career and Other Resources