Research-Related Activities to Engage in During Closures

Research Related Activities to Engage in During Closures. By PRA Mary.By Mary Vlamis, Peer Research Ambassador

Since you are browsing through the UConn Office of Undergraduate Research webpage, I will assume you have intellectual curiosity. If learning new things and investigating fascinating issues excite you, you may be finding ways to keep your mind stimulated while you are stuck at home for an indefinite amount of time. I know I am nervous about having nothing to do besides online classes…even my research is on hold due to COVID-19, as I’m sure many of your projects are too. Have no fear, my fellow nerds, I have a few suggestions for you!

 1) Do your own miniature research project

I know, I know. This sounds like the last thing you want to do. Hear me out. This is your chance to explore a topic from class that you found interesting but never had the time to read more about or go to office hours to discuss. As a UConn student, you have access to a variety of databases full of academic journals of every topic. These databases can be found on the library website. This is also the time to play around with different software, which will be helpful when it comes time to write a thesis or explain your skillset to a potential research mentor. As a UConn student, you can download the following programs for free here:

  • Statistical Processing: STATA, SPSS, MiniTab, SAS
  • Mathematical Computing: MatLab, Mathematica, Wolfram Alpha Pro
  • Chemical and Biochemical: Schrödinger
  • Graphic Design, Videography, and Photography: Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Products (students)

This can be a fun and stress-free approach to research. There is no one to report to or grades to obtain. It’s just you and your curiosity. Take advantage of it!

2) Watch documentaries

There are many advantages to watching a documentary. You get to sit on your couch, learn about something interesting to you, and see an aesthetically pleasing presentation. There are documentaries on all different topics: public health, law, environment, medicine, human rights, history, animals, etc. There are documentaries on all major streaming services, and there are documentaries on YouTube for free on this channel!

3) Explore UConn Library’s Digital Projects

The UConn Library has digital exhibitions of several research projects being done by UConn faculty and students in collaboration with the UConn Library. The projects being exhibited are: The Puerto Rico Citizenship Archives Project, Living Objects/African American Puppetry, Hartford Through Time, Cartografiando Revistas/Mapping Magazines. All of these projects have special webpages with more information on the projects and their findings! I suggest you check it out and support some of the research being done at our University.

4) Read nonfiction books

Similar to documentaries, nonfiction books allow you to learn something new from the comfort of your couch—often with a writing style more intriguing than textbooks. There are thousands and thousands of nonfiction books written on any topic you can imagine. Plus, you don’t even have to go to the store to buy them! Just order them online or download them straight to your laptop, phone, or Kindle (is that still a thing?). Another fun way to “read” these books is downloading the recorded version. This way you can hear the information being read to you, rather than reading it yourself. This is perfect if you are doing chores around the house, cooking, painting, or doing some mindless activity. Some of my personal favorites are Freakonomics, Outliers, Sapiens, Guns, Germs, and Steel, and How We Die.

I hope this helps some fellow Huskies during such an uncertain time. Although we may not physically be on campus, our time for this semester is not over! We just have to be creative with how we engage with our studies, classmates, and professors.

Mary is a senior double majoring in Economics and Political Science. Click here to learn more about Mary.