Dr. Francesco S. Celi (UConn Health – Department of Medicine, Endocrinology) is seeking a student assistant to perform routine tasks in a research environment. Our laboratory interest is focused on the role of “Thermogenic fat” in the protection against weight gain and its metabolic consequences. Daily job activities include:
• Assist Lab Staff in development and implementation of routine in vivo and in vitro experiments.
• Perform complex laboratory tasks with minimal supervision.
• Be involved with research animals (mice) handling and experimental procedures.
Special Requirements (including education, degrees, skills):
Enrolled at UConn Storrs or UConn Health Farmington with a B.sc or M.Sc. in a Biological Sciences area. Seeking a graduate student or undergraduate student who is close to graduation (December 2023 or May 2024 graduation).
The position’s required skills can also be attained through on-the-job training.
Applicants with any of the following skills may be given preferential consideration:
Prior Lab work experience:
• Nucleic acids extraction and amplification
• Protein extraction and immunoblotting
• Research animals (mice) handling
Familiarity with Microsoft Office (e.g. Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
Data acquisition and statistical analysis
How to Apply
Interested applicants should send a CV and cover letter to email@example.com, along with their availability.
Mentor: Dr. Francesco Celi, Chair, Department of Medicine
Department: Department of Medicine
Campus: UConn Health – Farmington
Potential projects for undergraduate research will be based on mutual interest. Some topics include:
1. Data-assimilation in climate-motivated reduced order models using semi-analytical approach
2. Robust control of a reduced-order model of spatially developing flows
3. Fixed-flux convection analyzed by reduced-order models
4. Analysis and reduced-order model of flow over hydrophobic surfaces
The student’s responsibilities include problem formulation, programming, and data analysis.
Expected time commitment will be 9 hours per week with duration of at least one semester. The student may earn credit of independent study. Mentor will also encourage and support the application of summer research fellowship.
Students are required to be enrolled in an STEM major with a strong background in mathematics (especially calculus and linear algebra), physics, and computer programming (Python or MATLAB). Prior research experience, courses in fluid dynamics, and plan to pursue a Ph.D. program are desired but not required.
How to Apply
Interested students can apply this research opportunity by sending an email to Dr. Chang Liu via firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy of CV and transcript. A paragraph describing why you are interested in this opportunity, what you plan to do, and the preferred research duration will be appreciated.
I am seeking motivated undergraduate students who are interested in doing research in the cloud system area. Interested students should email me to schedule a time to discuss the opportunity. Students who are interested in working on this research project may be encouraged to register for an independent study course to earn research credit.
A student is expected to have the following:
1) Strong coding skills
2) Self-learning and thinking; ability to problem solve
3) Hard working
How to Apply
If you are interested, please send an email with your resume and transcript to Dr. Wei Zhang (email@example.com).
Mentor: Wei Zhang, Assistant Professor
Department: Computer Science and Engineering (CSE)
In recognition of the pivotal role that mentors play in supporting undergraduate research and creative activity, the Office of Undergraduate Research is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023 Mentorship Excellence Awards. These awards recognize two faculty members – one in a STEM field, and one in a non-STEM field – and one graduate student who exemplify the ways in which outstanding mentors challenge and support their students, enabling them to take intellectual risks and achieve milestones they might not have initially envisioned being able to reach.
Please join us in congratulating Na Zhang, Wendy Mok, and Chelsea Garcia on their selection as this year’s Mentorship Excellence Award recipients. The awards were presented on Friday, April 14, 2023 and Tuesday, April 18, 2023 during the Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibitions at Storrs and Stamford.
Na Zhang, Assistant Professor, Human Development and Family Sciences
Professor Zhang was nominated by Victoria Almazán ’25 (CLAS) and Abigail Ricketts ’24 (CLAS). The following text is excerpted from their nominations.
When choosing a career path, I was often stuck on what would bring me everything I wanted: a clinical outcome for social good, as well as the opportunity to keep learning, writing, and reading every day. I considered a variety of careers such as social work, medicine, therapy, and more. However, these were all missing a certain component and I did not want to settle. Through learning research skills, I realized that research filled the learning component of my career goal and made it a goal to become more involved. However, I was still stumped on what that meant for me career-wise. I decided to set up a meeting with Dr. Zhang and ask for her thoughts. I described to her in a very dramatic way that I was suffering from a career crisis. She listened to me and asked me what my research interests were and told me about clinical psychology. While I had heard about the career previously, my understanding of it was vague at best. I researched people in the field, graduate programs, and more, and learned that it fit every single component I was looking for. Since describing this career goal to Dr. Zhang, she only increased her level of support. I am extremely grateful to have a mentor like Dr. Zhang help me shape my research interests in the social sciences and broaden my horizons in learning experiences I never expected to have. – Victoria Almazán
It quickly became obvious to me that Dr. Zhang is the type of mentor who genuinely cares about me, my interests, and my success. When developing my research plan she helped me to go above and beyond what I thought I was capable of doing. For example, Dr. Zhang encouraged me to submit an abstract of my preliminary findings to a psychology research conference. Before, I was not very aware of what occurs at these research conferences and how much of a benefit being accepted to present at one would be. With her guidance, I was able to submit an abstract and be accepted to present at the annual Association for Psychological Sciences Convention. This will be extremely beneficial for my professional and research goals because I will be able to see what research is currently being conducted in my field, as well as network with experienced and successful professionals. Dr. Zhang is the reason I will be able to have this opportunity that I didn’t even know was possible for me. – Abigail Ricketts
Wendy Mok, Assistant Professor, Molecular Biology and Biophysics
Professor Mok was nominated by Stephanie Schofield ’23 (CLAS). The following text is excerpted from Stephanie’s nomination.
Since the day I joined the lab, Wendy has challenged me to grow as both a scientist and as a person. In the first months before I even started working in person with her, she set up weekly meetings to help me digest scientific research papers so that I set a strong foundation for my research. After my very first poster at Fall Frontiers, Wendy challenged me to go further. Together, we worked on submitting abstracts to various conferences across New England. I recall, when I went to the BIG EAST Symposium to present my work, she was so excited that she posted a picture of me in front of my poster, and I was so honored by this. Wendy motivated me to apply for grants and programs, supporting me tirelessly on the applications and also quelling my fear of failure. When I received word that I was not selected for one program, I was devastated. Wendy hugged me and told me, “Do you know how many grants I have applied for in my life?” and when I was unsure, she answered, “Probably 50 by now, and all I needed was one to come through.” Months later, we worked to turn that unsuccessful proposal into a SURF award application that supported my research last summer and made me hungry to keep dreaming bigger. In the fall, I independently applied for a Fulbright grant and recently learned of my selection as a finalist! The foundation I built in Wendy’s lab, both in terms of technical skills and writing skills, made these opportunities possible.
Aside from her mentorship, over the last two years, Wendy has grown to become like a mother to me. While I have been responsible for my own success, Wendy has made my dreams possible through all her love, support, encouragement, and mentorship. I walked into her lab a timid, shy undergraduate, and now walk out with five posters, three projects, two successful grants, and one publication under my belt. Sometimes I get emotional about leaving the lab after graduating this spring. Wendy once gave me a big hug and showed me that she had cut a leaf off of our lab plant in her office. She told me that when anyone graduates from her lab, they get their own piece of the plant as a parting gift. “You’re just beginning, with me you’ve grown so much that now you get a new pot, a new environment. And you’ll grow and thrive there always knowing that we are just one family in your life.”
Chelsea Garcia, Ph.D. Student, Nutritional Sciences
Chelsea was nominated by Paige Dossias ’23 (CAHNR). The following text is excerpted from Paige’s nomination.
Like many new students, I felt intimidated about working in a lab. However, after meeting Chelsea for the first time, my worries were immediately put at ease. She was incredibly welcoming and gave me a thorough tour of the lab we would be working in together. Once I began reading the lab protocols, I admitted I was struggling to understand. Chelsea took the time to reassure me that this was completely normal and that she would explain things on a step-by-step basis, which was a great relief. After the first week, I knew I wanted to be involved in this lab for my remaining time at UConn.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have Chelsea as a mentor. She is someone I know I can always count on for support – not only with my research projects, but also for guidance on opportunities outside the lab. Chelsea creates an open and safe environment where students can go to her for just about anything. She has answered what feels like thousands of questions and has made time to meet with students even when she is busy. Whenever she learns that I am working on a project or a piece of writing, she offers to review and provide constructive feedback. Chelsea makes it clear to everyone in the lab to prioritize their health above all else. It is evident that she has a genuine passion for mentorship and wants us to succeed. She is an excellent role model — from how she teaches students in our lab, to her willingness to support other students and faculty, as well as her hard work and dedication to research and academics.
With Chelsea’s guidance, I have become more independent and able to solve problems on my own. She has shown me her thought-process on how to approach issues when challenges arise in the lab. She emphasizes how mistakes are an important part of the learning process and how we can use them to grow as researchers. She taught me to document every observation, which is something I have incorporated into my everyday life. For every protocol I’ve learned, Chelsea ensures I understand how each experiment and reagents work before moving on. She even goes as far as to share examples of safety hazards she’s witnessed in the past, as well as the most common lab errors and sources of contamination. These examples have been invaluable to me and I’ve been able to pass this learning onto incoming students.
Chelsea continually encourages me to take on new projects and apply for awards, even when I was uncertain. One of the most frequent phrases she says is, “I believe in you.” I am in awe of how much I’ve grown as a student, researcher, and person under her guidance. I never could have imagined how much I would learn through research and how incredibly rewarding and fun it can be. Even with something as simple as blasting Disney music while we work, she is always looking for ways to create an enjoyable and relaxing learning environment. I cannot thank Chelsea enough for her unwavering support and guidance during my time here at UConn. She has had a profound impact on my undergraduate experience, which will serve me for years to come. She has been one of the best mentors I’ve ever had and given me a foundation to build on for my future. For this, I am forever grateful.
Congratulations to the 2023 award recipients! The Office of Undergraduate Research thanks the undergraduate students who nominated their faculty and graduate student mentors as well as the Peer Research Ambassadors who served on this year’s selection committee.
Volunteer positions for fieldwork in the Luquillo Experimental Forest of Puerto Rico are available during the summer of 2023. This tropical site has a rich history of ecological research (see http://luq.lternet.edu/) and is currently funded from a grant from National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research Program (see http://www.lternet.edu/). Applicants must be able to commit for blocks of time (usually 4-7 weeks in duration, exact duration and dates will be determined, in part, based on availability of applicants) to be in Puerto Rico. Additional opportunities for research experience and the potential to work on related research projects at the University of Connecticut following fieldwork exist for interested participants.
Our research team will investigate responses of snails and insects to environmental variation related to elevation, landscape characteristics, or natural disturbances, including responses to Hurricane Maria (2017), and a long-term simulated hurricane experiment. Fieldwork is conducted at night and involves surveys by teams of workers at a series of small plots throughout the forest. Work involves long hours and hiking in wet and slippery mountainous terrain.
This is a fantastic opportunity to gain practical field experience in the only tropical forest within the US Forest System. At night the forest comes alive with the calls of endemic frogs (coquis), with potential opportunities to interact with scientists and students from other universities that conduct ecological research on diverse aspects of the forest.
Lodging and round-trip transportation (plane ticket) will be provided by the project.
We are seeking mature, responsible, and hard-working students who are dedicated team-players. Good field habits (i.e., good note taking, good observations) are a plus. No previous work experience in tropical rainforests is necessary.
Mentor: Michael Willig, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, and Steven Presley, Postdoctoral Research Associate
Department: Institute of the Environment
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Timing: Summer 2023, Ongoing
Campus: Off-campus Summer 2023, Storrs ongoing
The REINVENT-PT lab (REhabilitation INnoVations & Emerging Novel Technologies in Physical Therapy, PI: Dr. Sudha Srinivasan) at the University of Connecticut (UConn) is interested in understanding developmental trajectories of individuals with developmental disabilities including Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, etc. across the lifespan.
The REINVENT-PT lab is interested in understanding developmental trajectories of individuals with neuro-developmental disabilities such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, and Intellectual Disability across the lifespan. We are interested in studying how infants and children with developmental disabilities explore their physical and social environment compared to typically developing peers and the cascading effects of motor difficulties on a child’s social communication and cognitive development. We are also interested in assessing health-related outcomes in adolescents and young adults with developmental disabilities, including their physical activity and physical fitness levels. Based on our understanding of the developmental trajectories of individuals with disabilities, our goal is to develop multisystem, engaging, evidence-based, behavioural interventions and assistive technologies to empower the lives of people with disabilities.
At present, the lab has 2 ongoing research projects: (1) we are exploring the utility and efficacy of using playful joystick-operated ride-on-toys to promote upper extremity function and spontaneous use in children with hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy both in a camp setting and as a home-based program. Specifically, we are also interested in comparing the efficacy of single versus dual joystick ride-on-toy navigation training in improving uni- and bimanual function in children with hemiplegic CP, (2) assessing the ability of healthy neurotypical children to drive joystick-operated ride-on-toys using their non-dominant side.
We are looking for passionate, energetic, and empathetic undergraduate students interested in working on projects involving infants, children, and adults with disabilities. Students can pursue research at the lab for credit, for work study, and with the potential of converting a subset of the research into an honor’s thesis. Students are required to commit to pursuing research in the lab for at least 2-3 semesters in order for the experience to be meaningful for students. Students are required to complete CITI training given that our research is with human subjects (details will be provided by the study PI).
How to Apply
Students from diverse backgrounds including but not limited to psychology, physiology and neurobiology, biology, exercise science, communication sciences, allied health, and education are encouraged to contact Dr. Sudha Srinivasan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please attach your CV/Resume and your unofficial transcript in your email.
Mentor: Sudha Srinivasan, Assistant Professor
Department: Kinesiology (Physical Therapy)
Timing: Spring 2023, Summer 2023, Ongoing
The REINVENT-PT lab (REhabilitation INnoVations & Emerging Novel Technologies in Physical Therapy, PI: Dr. Sudha Srinivasan) at the University of Connecticut (UConn) is interested in understanding developmental trajectories of individuals with neuro-developmental disabilities including Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, etc. across the lifespan.
We are interested in studying how infants and children with developmental disabilities explore their physical and social environment compared to typically developing peers and the cascading effects of motor difficulties on a child’s social communication and cognitive development. We are also interested in assessing health-related outcomes in adolescents and young adults with developmental disabilities, including their physical activity and physical fitness levels. Based on our understanding of the developmental trajectories of individuals with disabilities, our goal is to develop multisystem, engaging, evidence-based, behavioural interventions and assistive technologies to empower the lives of people with disabilities.
At present, the lab has 4 ongoing research projects – (1) exploring the utility and efficacy of using playful joystick-operated ride-on-toys to promote upper extremity function and spontaneous use in children with hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy both in a camp setting and as a home-based program. Specifically, we are also interested in comparing the efficacy of single versus dual joystick ride-on-toy navigation training in improving uni- and bimanual function in children with hemiplegic CP, (2) assessing the ability of healthy neurotypical children to drive joystick-operated ride-on-toys using their non-dominant side, (3) assessing physical activity and physical fitness levels in adolescents and young adults with developmental disabilities compared to age-matched typically developing peers and understanding factors at the personal and environmental levels that influence physical activity engagement in young adults with disabilities, and (4) assessing the effects of a novel, icon-driven Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device on social communication and behavioral skills of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder using a longitudinal study design.
We specifically need help with projects (1) and (2) listed above in terms of recruitment efforts, data collection, and data analyses.
We are looking for passionate, energetic, and empathetic undergraduate students interested in working on projects involving infants, children, and adults with disabilities. Students can pursue research at the lab for credit, for work study, and with the potential of converting a subset of the research into an honor’s thesis.
Students are required to commit to pursuing research in the lab for at least 2-3 semesters in order for the experience to be meaningful for students. Students are required to complete CITI training given that our research is with human subjects (details will be provided by the study PI). Students from diverse backgrounds including but not limited to psychology, physiology and neurobiology, biology, exercise science, communication sciences, allied health, and education are encouraged to apply.
How to Apply
Interested students should contact Dr. Sudha Srinivasan at email@example.com via email. Please attach your resume/CV and unofficial transcript to the email.
Mentor: Sudha Srinivasan, Assistant Professor
Department: Kinesiology (Physical Therapy)
Timing: Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Summer 2023
Dr. Perry-Eaddy is focused on understanding outcomes in children after critical illness. Namely, she is interested in understanding the underlying biological mechanisms that may increase a child’s risk of poor recovery, such as hyper-inflammation. This position will include assisting in the start-up of a study of critically ill children who survive the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). The student research assistant will aid in conducting literature reviews, analyzing literature, preparing grants, IRB submissions etc. Additionally the student will aid in the development of research data collection tools, as well as preparation of sample collection kits. The student will learn the essentials of launching a clinical research study. There may be opportunities for the student to have unique opportunities such as writing/publishing a manuscript or poster presentation, answering a research question with existing data, and applying for internal grant funding.
There is a potential opportunity to receive honors course credit, which would be discussed with student and major advisor in advance.
A list of potential tasks the student may perform include the following:
-Conduct literature searches
-Extract information from sources
-Organize and classify data
-Proofread and edit data collection forms in REDcap
-Test data collection forms prior to going live with clinical subjects
-Create sample collection kits
-Assist in maintaining REDcap database
-Look up and check references
-Tabulate and analyze data
-Be an undergraduate student in the Honors Program
-Be able to operate computer, phone, and/or other research equipment
-Have strong communication skills (verbal and written)
-Be able to maintain confidentiality
-While not required, students with interest in clinical and/or translational research are best suited for this position. Especially those enrolled in health-related programs (i.e. nursing, pre-med, allied health, pharmacy, etc.).
-Prior research experience, including literature reviews and/or completion of W-level coursework is strongly encouraged.
-Knowledge of REDcap database is preferred, though not required.
How to Apply
If interested, please submit your resume and cover letter to Dr. Perry-Eaddy (firstname.lastname@example.org), addressing your interest in pediatric critical care clinical and/or translational research, and what you hope to gain from the experience.
Mentor: Dr. Mallory Perry-Eaddy, Assistant Professor
Dr. Monika Filipovska’s research group seeks research assistants for a few research projects focusing on advancements in transportation research, including intelligent transportation systems and IoT, mobility on demand, and modeling of autonomous vehicles. Depending on the student’s skills, they may work on tasks involving data cleaning and pre-processing, database management, use of GIS software for pre-analysis, running numerical experiments using programming software, or assistance with the use of driving simulation equipment and software.
Through this experience, students will learn about new advancements in the field of transportation engineering, including new mobility services and vehicle or infrastructure technologies. Students will have the opportunity strengthen their coding and data analysis skills, and learn new skills related to the use of traffic and driving simulation software. Students will be expected to participate in research meetings and work collaboratively with other undergraduate or graduate assistants. The students will have the opportunity to receive additional mentoring from graduate students, postdoctoral associates, and other research staff they may work with.
Depending on the progress and skills of specific students, and for how long they are available to work in the research group, students may have the opportunity to also contribute to data analysis and writing, and build their research, analytical and writing skills.
This is a paid opportunity, at the Class II assistant level ($13.15/hour to $14.35/hour) according to JobX classification.
Students may have the opportunity to continue working on related topics through independent study or directed research credits in the upcoming semesters if they are interested.
At minimum the applicants should have:
· Interest in research related to transportation systems
· Ability to follow direction
· Ability to work independently and as part of a team
· Strong quantitative skills
Applicants should have some combination of the following:
· Proficiency in Excel
· Data cleaning, organizing, pre-processing, and formatting skills
· Programming using Python, MATLAB and/or R
· Strong background in statistical analysis, math, or computer science
· SQL server and database management experience
· Working knowledge or experience with ArcGIS Pro
Please note that each applicant need only have some of these skills. This list would be the combined set of skills of multiple hired students.
How to Apply
This opportunity is advertised via JobX with the Job ID 12861. Please submit your applications there. Applications should include: a short resume, a description of any experience related to this job, a brief summary of any unique skills, qualifications or interests relevant to this job.
Please also share your availability (summer / semester and hours), and what you hope to gain from this experience.
Mentor: Monika Filipovska, Assistant Professor
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Timing: Summer 2022, Ongoing
In recognition of the pivotal role that mentors play in supporting undergraduate research and creative activity, the Office of Undergraduate Research is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2022 Mentorship Excellence Awards. These awards recognize two faculty members – one in a STEM field, and one in a non-STEM field – and one graduate student who exemplify the ways in which outstanding mentors challenge and support their students, enabling them to take intellectual risks and achieve milestones they might not have initially envisioned being able to reach.
Please join us in congratulating Jason Oliver Chang, Sarah Knutie, and Mia Kawaida on their selection as this year’s Mentorship Excellence Award recipients. The awards were presented on Friday, April 8, 2022 during the 25th annual Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition.
Jason Oliver Chang, Associate Professor, History and Asian American Studies
Professor Chang was nominated by Karen Lau ’25 (CLAS). The following text is excerpted from Karen’s nomination.
During my freshman year, I took Dr. Chang’s Asian American Experience Since 1850 course and became his mentee. He encouraged me to join Make Us Visible CT, a group of educators and students working together to advocate for the development and implementation of Asian American studies curricula in public schools across multiple states. Through Make Us Visible, I worked with fellow students to collect data on the demographics of public school districts, Boards of Education, and Directors of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Connecticut. As a young, Asian American woman, I have seldom seen myself represented by my educators’ experiences or cultures. Dr. Chang’s teaching has opened my eyes to beautiful aspects of my family’s immigration history, culture, heritage, and identity that I have been blind to in the past.
Currently, Dr. Chang and I are working with the Connecticut Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity & Opportunity to create a first-of-its-kind political opinion survey for Asian American Connecticut residents. Throughout the creation of this survey, Dr. Chang has taught me about building large-scale surveys and ethical data collection. He motivated me to draft questions about accessibility, civic engagement, political opinions, and the impact of COVID-19. Dr. Chang’s vision of uplifting Asian residents of Connecticut has been extremely inspiring.
Dr. Chang inspired me to be unafraid of the unknown, to dig deeper to learn about my home state’s impact on Asian Americans, and to be bolder in my advocacy in education reform. He frequently made space for me to ask questions, provide my ideas and insight, and empowered me to collaborate with historians and cultural anthropologists. At a time when I struggled with separating my identity from being a student the most, Dr. Chang taught me that I am much more than a student; in fact, I am capable of changing the education landscape and battling inequities that my generation faces. Dr. Chang is never discouraging or doubtful of his students’ abilities to conduct research in history. He works with students to achieve their academic and social goals, whether that may be lobbying the CT General Assembly to pass ethnic studies legislation or creating a curriculum about power and colonialism. His extraordinary compassion for his students, his commitment to increasing the visibility of students of color, and his fierce advocacy for policies that benefit marginalized students and educators have benefited me immensely. Without any doubt, Dr. Chang’s mentorship has been the most empowering aspect of my college experience at UConn.
Sarah Knutie, Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Professor Knutie was nominated by Mahima Mehta ’22 (CLAS). The following text is excerpted from Mahima’s nomination.
Science and research touch all aspects of our lives. Up until my sophomore year of college, I had a very skewed view of it all – I knew it existed, but I didn’t know to what extent and completely believed it was not something for someone like me. Upon my first conversation with Dr. Sarah Knutie, I was amazed by the questions she was investigating and could clearly see myself working in her lab. When I became a member of the Nest Parasite Community Science Project, this was my first exposure to research and I found myself nervous. I didn’t know what to expect and was afraid I wouldn’t do well. I quickly realized how silly these fears were as Dr. Knutie supported and encouraged me to ask questions to clarify and better understand the various topics being investigated.
The largest lesson, and most important lesson, Dr. Knutie has taught me is the importance of asking questions. It is rather easy to feel, as an undergraduate student, that the questions we have may be “dumb.” Dr. Knutie made a conscious effort to squash that misconception and taught me asking questions is the basis of research and science. When I joined her lab, Dr. Knutie encouraged me to keep a notebook of things I noticed and wondered. We revisited that notebook a year later and I had developed pages of trends and questions, some of which had the potential to be studied in my remaining time as an undergraduate student. Dr. Knutie suggested I choose the question that most interested me to pursue as an independent research project. As someone who has always been interested in the effects of climate change, I developed a project that focused on that and applied for an IDEA Grant. She helped me every step of the way, reminding me that no question is a bad question and that she was there to guide me through the process.
Outstanding mentors not only lead by example, but also provide opportunities for their mentees to learn through experience. After participating in the Nest Parasite Community Science Project for a year, I became the lead undergraduate on the project – my first time leading anything this big. Despite Dr. Knutie being at her long-term study site in the Galápagos, she has made sure to always be available to me when I need her, and has even gone as far as to set up weekly meetings to discuss that project, my IDEA Grant project, and work on presenting research in a poster and manuscript. I joined the lab without having the slightest idea of the opportunities that research may come with, and now I am working on my very own manuscript and coauthoring another. This is incredibly exciting as it makes the broader impact of the study more tangible. A large part of Dr. Knutie’s research focuses on scientific communication and making the questions we investigate digestible to the public. She has shown me the importance of making science accessible to everyone.
Dr. Knutie exemplifies excellence in mentorship because of the unique sense of purpose, importance, and passion she enables us to find in ourselves. The members of the Knutie Lab agree that she truly wants us all to succeed. Dr. Knutie has been my biggest supporter and inspiration and I am incredibly grateful for her encouragement in all of my passions.
Mia Kawaida, Ph.D. Student, Animal Science
Mia was nominated by Vianna Bassani ’23 (CAHNR). The following text is excerpted from Vianna’s nomination.
Beginning undergraduate research, I did not know what to expect, as I had never participated in anything like this before. I was nervous to work with graduate students and PI’s knowing I had such limited experience. Meeting Mia through Dr. Reed’s lab relieved these nerves and has helped me be where I am today. Mia was always so caring and welcoming from the start. She helped me understand basic laboratory techniques and worked closely with me to help me actually understand what I was doing, instead of just going through the motions.
When I first started the lab work for my project, Mia and I sat down together and went through my assay kit. We read every word of the manual together, did every step together, and spent 7 hours together in one day to get it done, just to find out that we would not be able to use the data and would have to redo everything. While I was disappointed with the result, Mia took this so-called failure and turned it into a positive learning experience that science is not always easy or perfect but it is messy, and that is what makes science, science, as our PI Dr. Reed would say.
This year, I really feel like I have gained an appreciation for research, and this comes in part from working with Mia. She is patient, knowledgeable, and dedicated to the field, and these are the reasons I look up to her when completing my own research project now. From spending time practicing pipetting to hours working on my own assays, Mia has been there to support me and provide me with assistance, including answering the infinite questions that arise. It is important to mention that Mia’s PhD project does not even include the sheep research, however, you would never know because she is 100% dedicated to the project and leads with ease. Through working closely with Mia inside the lab, she is one of the reasons I was given the privilege of becoming a shift leader for feeding and checking the research sheep, lambs, and calves. This opportunity not only gave me the confidence to feel like I belonged in the lab and field of research, but that I was also provided with hands-on experience and leadership skills that I know are positively contributing to my future career goals. As I continue in research through my undergraduate career, I will continue to appreciate the kindness, organization, ethical care for the research animals, and mentorship that Mia embodies.
Congratulations to the 2022 award recipients! The Office of Undergraduate Research thanks the undergraduate students who nominated their faculty and graduate student mentors as well as the Peer Research Ambassadors who served on this year’s selection committee.