Meet Stephanie Schofield ’23, an OUR Peer Research Ambassador (PRA) majoring in Molecular & Cell Biology and minoring in Psychological Sciences and Chemistry.
I currently do research in Dr. Wendy Mok’s lab at UConn Health where I am focusing on microbial interactions and their impacts on antibiotic treatment response.
Why did you get involved in research?
To start, I have really enjoyed my major-related courses so far at UConn and from the start of my college career, I always knew I wanted to get involved in research. I am super passionate about my education and I enjoy learning, so I wanted to take it to the next level. I am also a big hands-on learner, so furthering my education through research was a rewarding idea to me.
What advice would you give to new students?
Definitely get involved in undergraduate research! Not only is it a super rewarding educational experience, but it is also an amazing opportunity to network and further your career. With this said, I would recommend against looking at undergraduate research as a box you need to check off. Don’t stress over picking a lab that fits you, just make sure you do something that you are passionate about!
What do you enjoy the most about participating in research?
My research has been something I am excited about and I always look forward to going into the lab. There have been many rewarding aspects of participating in research for me, however one of the most gratifying aspects of getting involved in research has been the multitude of new things I have learned from my studies. Research allows me to practically apply what I have studied in my courses and as someone who is passionate about education, it has been an amazing opportunity for me. Research is such a multidisciplinary experience and it is so cool to see what my studies have taught me in action!
Describe the impact your research experience has had on you.
Research has had so many amazing impacts on me, especially with the role it has played in my overall education. In the classroom, most of your time is spent studying and reading from a book. Even in lab courses, the experiments you work on are usually written out for you or often will yield expected results. In the lab, I am constantly getting creative in coming up with my own experimental protocols and I am always seeing new findings. Nothing is ever constant in the lab, my research is always changing and this has allowed me to apply what I have learned in the classroom. Research has also changed the way I view life and my education in general. I used to be the kind of person who needed a regimented schedule for both my life goals and for my studies. The variability in my research has taught me to go with the flow a little more and in the end, it has allowed me to gain a better, wiser perspective on my life.
What is your greatest accomplishment so far?
I feel that with undergraduate research, it is easy to not give yourself as much credit as you should. You don’t always have successful experiments and perfect data, and that is completely normal. With that said, I feel one of my greatest personal accomplishments is how proud of myself I am. There are times where research can be difficult both mentally and also content-wise, so the best you can do is to show up and give it your all no matter what! I think even taking that first step into research is a huge accomplishment and it shows major initiative. In my own research though, one of my coolest accomplishments has been some of the presentations I have given on my work. It is awesome to be able to teach your fellow classmates, peers and professors about something you are passionate about.
What are your plans after graduation? How has involvement in research influenced your plans?
I am not 100% sure what path I will pursue after I graduate, but I think this is common for many students as well and it is okay to not know exactly what will come next. Some of life’s best opportunities come from unplanned experiences! However, I know I want to pursue a career within the molecular sciences and am interested in careers in genetic counseling and clinical research. After graduating from UConn, I plan to complete a post-bachelor’s program within a research institution and after, I plan to go to graduate school. My involvement in research gave me so much more clarity on some of the paths I was considering. You get to explore so many areas of science and you also get to meet people from different backgrounds. I was also able to take advantage of doing research at UConn Health and complete some shadowing of various careers I considered. My research experience as a whole has helped me narrow down my interests and therefore my career goals.
Click here for more information on Stephanie and other OUR Peer Research Ambassadors.