Author: Berkey, Melissa

Presenting Your Research With Confidence

By Lily Zhong, Peer Research AmbassadorPresenting Your Research With Confidence

It can be intimidating to create a poster for the first time and even more nerve wracking to present your poster to others at a professional conference. I have experienced all these anxieties myself when preparing and presenting for the annual NEURON conference at Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine and multiple Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Exhibitions as well. Here are a few things to keep in mind that helped me stay calm and present with confidence. Continue reading

Testing the Waters

By Brendan Hogan, Peer Research AmbassadorTesting the Waters. By PRA Brendan.

I started my independent research project with the goal of expanding my analytical skills and experience in political science research, but I did not expect that it would solidify my decision to attend law school. Not only has my research solidified my direction, it has also helped me build upon and focus my career aspirations.

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Survival Guide for Applying to Off-Campus Summer Research Programs: Part 2

Survival Guide for Applying to Off-Campus Summer Research Programs: Part 2. By PRA Ariana.By Ariana Rojas, Peer Research Ambassador

In part 1 of this 2-part blog post I talked about finding programs. Now we’re going to discuss navigating the application process.

The Application

The application may seem like the most daunting part of the process, but it can be very simple. First, you will almost always need letters of recommendation, so secure those early. The last thing you want to happen is to find an amazing program, write a show-stopper personal statement and then not be able to submit your application in time because you did not give your recommendation writers enough time to write the letter. You should give professors a minimum of two weeks to write a letter, but it’s best if you can secure a commitment 3 – 4 weeks beforehand. Continue reading

Survival Guide for Applying to Off-Campus Summer Research Programs: Part 1

By Ariana Rojas, Peer Research AmbassadorSurvival Guide for Applying to Off-Campus Summer Research Programs. By PRA Ariana.

With every spring semester comes the dreaded time of the year – summer internship applications. This process may seem daunting for most, I know it is for me even as a Senior, but I’ve gotten through it, and so will you!

I spent the summer after my first year studying abroad through UConn in Italy, so I first started looking for summer research internships the spring semester of my sophomore year. I was new to the Storrs campus and did not have any research experience, and was looking to branch out that summer. After my weeks – to months – of working on applications and applying to programs, I was offered a spot in the University of North Florida Coastal Biology REU program. I was ecstatic and accepted my offer. I spent that summer researching the molecular mechanism of gut development in Tardigrades and had an incredible summer. I developed a fruitful mentor relationship, met some amazing undergraduate researchers from across the country (who I’m still best friends with to this day), explored Florida, and fell in love with developmental biology – all while getting paid. I highly recommend REU programs, or even any off-campus summer research program, to all undergraduates. Continue reading

Leveraging Your Research Experiences

By Anisha Jain, Peer Research AmbassadorLeveraging Your Research Experiences. By PRA Anisha.

As I prepare to graduate this coming spring, I’ve had to learn how to apply for jobs and graduate school for the first time. I’ve had many conversations with mentors, family, and friends trying to understand how to present my academic career thus far. In this post, I want to share what I’ve learned and how I’ve been leveraging my research experience.

As an aspiring physician-scientist, the graduate programs and jobs that I’m applying for heavily factor in a candidate’s research experiences, capacity to think independently, and intellectual curiosity. When describing experiences to selection committees or hiring managers, it is your responsibility to explain the significance of your experiences and why they are relevant. This is far more impactful than merely stating that you’ve had an experience or developed a skill. Continue reading

• Congratulations, Fall 2020 UConn IDEA Grant Recipients!

Congratulations to the nine undergraduates who have been awarded UConn IDEA Grants in the fall 2020 funding cycle!

The award recipients represent a variety of disciplines, from psychological sciences to mechanical engineering, and natural resources to digital media & design. They will conduct independent research projects, engage in creative endeavors, and implement educational programming.

Click here to view the full list of fall 2020 UConn IDEA Grant award recipients.

Special thanks to the faculty and staff who supported student applications to the UConn IDEA Grant and to those who will be mentoring the award recipients as they complete their projects.

The UConn IDEA Grant program awards funding to support self-designed projects including artistic endeavors, community service initiatives, research projects, prototyping and entrepreneurial ventures, and other creative and innovative projects. Undergraduates in all majors at all UConn campuses can apply. Applications are accepted twice per year from individuals and from small groups who plan to work collaboratively on a project.

Embracing Failure

By Pavitra Makarla, Peer Research AmbassadorEmbracing Failure. By PRA Pavitra.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

– Thomas A. Edison

If there’s any quote that wholly represents what research is, it has to be this one.

To the budding scientist, failure might seem like the worst possible outcome in the research process. Maybe you’ve attempted to run some code that continually gives back an error, or maybe you’ve hypothesized something that turned out to be the complete opposite of what you thought. Theoretically, failure is something you’d want to avoid, right?

I think it’s the opposite — you should embrace the concept of failure. Failing shows you what doesn’t work, and you can use that information to find out what actually does work. While the specific challenges you will encounter in research can vary from lab to lab, there are ways to deal with and overcome failures. Continue reading

Overcoming Research Challenges

By Shreya Murthy, Peer Research AmbassadorOvercoming Research Challenges. By PRA Shreya.

Its 11pm at night and you have to send some materials to your PI on your research project the next morning. All of a sudden, your computer screen goes blue, then black, then won’t turn on again; your computer just crashed with all of your research inside.

Participating in research is a really wonderful and engaging experience and helps students in so many personal and professional ways. However, when situations such as the above computer crash happen, things get a little more interesting. Continue reading

The Importance of Mentorship, Collaboration, and Self-Advocacy

By Sarah Tsuruo, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

The Importance of Mentorship, Collaboration, and Self-Advocacy. By PRA Sarah.If you just joined a lab, or you’re stuck in your research growth and development, take a minute to read what I have to say about mentorship, collaboration and self-advocacy!


Mentorship as an undergraduate researcher is the most important thing to your success and growth. Mentors will teach you and guide you in every step of your research, from learning mechanisms, bench work, making your own project and writing an abstract or thesis. Mentors can be found not only in your PIs, but in all lab members: postdocs, PhD students, lab techs, and even upperclassmen undergrads. Being experts in their work, they have been through every success and downfall ― and know how to help you through it as well. Continue reading