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How to approach a professor


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I've been reading the threads on approaching potential professors and emailing them regarding their programs. The issue that I have is that I am currently in my junior year of my bachelor's and the research that I am involved in is not exactly the branch of biology that I would like to go into. How do I explain this to a professor in an email without seeming like I'm not serious?

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No professor expects you to be doing exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life at, what, 21? At this stage you are demonstrating your research potential; can you form hypotheses? experiments? literature reviews? The field is not the most important part right now.

That said, when contacting professors do give a bit of an explanation of why you want to go into XYZ field. Was there a section in a previous class that sparked your interest? If your focus now is ABC, explain why XYZ is relevant (I'm assuming they are somewhat close based on your post). But really, the detailed explanation belongs in your SOP. An email to a professor now should be more along the lines of "My foundation is mostly in ABC, but I am very interested in XYZ, too. After reading your paper on XYZ [and do read it :lol: ], I began to look at your program for graduate school. etc etc"

This coming from someone with undergrad research mostly in insect behavior, but applying with a focus on ecology. Tangentially related is good enough as long as you can connect the dots.

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The unrelated research project shouldn't be your concern. When are you applying for grad school? If you're doing your junior year now, you should wait until you're a senior/within a few months of applying before contacting professors.

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