speech therapist working with 4-year-old girl

Speech & Hearing Science

Promote effective communication, a human right, through research and clinical practice. Prepare for a career that improves lives.

Getting involved in research

Volunteering in a lab can be a great opportunity to learn about research, get more in-depth knowledge of the field, and build connections with students and faculty in the department.

Every lab has different needs based on the nature of their research and the tasks they need help with. For example, some labs may require native English speakers. Other labs may require people who are good with kids. Additionally, how many volunteers are needed in a lab can vary from lab to lab and semester to semester. While different labs have different processes for joining, here are some initial steps you can take for joining a lab:

  1. Go to the research section of the department’s website and learn about the type of work that the different labs do
  2. When you find a lab that interests you, contact the faculty member in charge of that lab via email or stop by their office hours
  3. When you meet with the faculty member, find out if there are openings in the lab, what the application process is for joining the lab, and the time commitment required by the lab

Tips and useful information

  • While approaching a faculty member about joining a lab can be a nerve-racking task, when there are openings in their lab, faculty members are happy to have students join. The bar for joining a lab is usually relatively low, often based on interest and availability
  • Labs fill up, but this also changes over time.
    • If a lab is full, there are two (not mutually exclusive) options:
      • Find a different lab
      • Wait until the next semester.  Labs often have turnover at the start of each semester, especially the fall semester
  • Follow up
    • If you email a professor and have not heard back within a week, send a follow-up email.  Faculty get many emails and it is easy to miss one
  • While many labs will ask you to commit to one to two semesters in the lab, joining a particular lab is not a decision that will govern your research experience for your whole time at UIUC. Many people join multiple labs or switch labs over time. If you are planning on leaving a lab, give the faculty member a heads up as early as possible
  • If you are interested, with agreement from the faculty member you can receive course credit for working in a lab. Kathi Ritten can help you determine how best to fit this into your program of study. There are three options:
    • SHS 291 – credit/no credit and a good option when starting in a lab
    • SHS 390 – graded (minimum of 2 credits)
    • SHS 395 – graded, honors (minimum of 2 credits)
  • Many of your fellow SHS students have worked in a lab during their undergrad career. They can be a great resource for getting a better sense of what working in a lab is like.