Student Research Blog

Why Research

By: Kavita Sinha, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

Coming into my freshman year of college, research wasn’t even a blip on my radar. I knew that I wanted to attend medical school after I graduated, and research didn’t factor into my thoughts on how I would get there. Even after I watched my friends send email after email to professors, anxiously seeking a lab position, I had no interest in doing the same. It wasn’t until my parents asked that I find something to keep myself occupied over the summer that I started to look into research positions. Now, less than 50 days away from graduation, I am coming up on three years in my lab and am writing an Honors thesis on the work I have completed there. So, for those of you who ask the same “Why Research?” question that I once did, here are some of my answers. Continue reading

Community Outreach and Research

By: Priscilla Grillakis, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

One of the aims of a research project is to learn about or create something that can be used to help others, and often times this could involve aspects of community outreach. Last year, after seeing a need for an improved emergent bilingual program, three of my peers and I applied for an IDEA grant.

We found a specific school to conduct our research in, and hoped that through our developmental stages of the research we would be able to help the current students. We had many steps to our project to ensure we could create the best possible program, with our end goal being to market the program to various schools and organizations to try to help as many emergent bilingual students as possible. Due to coordination and scheduling difficulties with the school we were working with, we had to adjust our project. Continue reading

New Jersey, to Connecticut, to California, and Back

By: Maya Schlesinger, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

Within the first few weeks at UConn, I think many of us learn how expansive this community is. Many of us come from Connecticut and Storrs isn’t too far from home; but some of us come from farther away and Storrs is a new, scary experience. As an out of state student, I fell into the latter category and I had to certainly learn how to thrive on my own—making new friends, taking initiative in classes and extracurriculars, even eating on time and the right foods. Continue reading

How to Stay Inspired in Lab Research

By: Sarah Robbins, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

Finding Inspiration – Don’t Get Bogged Down in the Everyday

On a day-to-day basis research can appear to be daunting, monotonous and full of long days with lots of setbacks. So, what makes you keep going? The answer might vary, but likely everyone has some kind of inspiration that motivates them. It’s hard to be optimistic when you’ve been pipetting for what seems like an entire day, or a month of experiments still don’t work. But, I would like to share some suggestions I have for staying inspired. Continue reading

Managing Project Setbacks

By: Emily Regan, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

As with anything in life, research and creative projects are wrought with setbacks, surprises and even failures. No matter how carefully you plan, schedule or prepare, bumps on the road are inevitable. What’s most important is how you handle these setbacks, and what you learn from them.

When things deviate from the original plan, it can feel overwhelming and defeating. It’s important to have skills and strategies in place ahead of time in order to move past these challenges and be triumphant in your research or creative endeavors. Here are strategies that I’ve learned through my creative process that have helped me recover from setbacks and be successful in my project. Continue reading

Navigating the Summer Research Experience: Part 3

By: Marisa Boch, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

The Research Experience

It may be your first time doing full-time research, and 8 hours of lab each day may seem daunting at first. The best way to ease those nerves is to know what to expect…

Typically, you will be assigned to a PI and will be working most closely with a graduate student on a specific project. You may begin the first week or two conducting literature review in order to plan the study (experimental aims, experimental methods, methods of analysis, etc.) while also learning basic laboratory techniques/procedures. In my experience, once my graduate student and I finished putting together the formal study outline, I then presented the outline to my PI to get feedback. These first few weeks may be more deskwork than laboratory work, but becoming proficient at conducting literature searches and learning how to plan out all aspects of a study are valuable skills! Continue reading

Navigating the Summer Research Experience: Part 2

By: Marisa Boch, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

Preparing Your Application

Some programs have different formats, but as a general rule of thumb your application will include a personal statement, letters of recommendation (2), an official transcript, and (occasionally) a resume:

1) Personal Statement: The program instructions for a personal statement will probably resemble something along the lines of: Describe in ### words your educational and professional goals and how your participation in the XYZ Program will assist in meeting your goals. Be sure to articulate your qualifications and your reasons for wishing to participate in this program (Adapted from Harvard Summer Research Program in Kidney Medicine Application 2018). Start your personal statement early on.

Continue reading

Navigating the Summer Research Experience: Part 1

By: Marisa Boch, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

REU, SURF, SURE, STAR, SMART, STaRS. Summer research programs are typically an assortment of acronyms with letters representing some combination of the words “summer” and “undergraduate” and “research,” along with the classification of the program (“experience,” “internship,” “fellowship,” “program”). No matter the name, each of these different programs represents a window of opportunities for aspiring undergraduate researchers. A summer research internship can be a way to begin your research endeavors, providing you with an avenue to continue research during the academic year. It can be a way to fully immerse yourself into full-time research, learning more and gaining more experience than may be possible when conducting research during the school year. Perhaps most importantly, it can provide insight into what role research may play in your future and whether a research career is for you.

Summer research experiences can be invaluable, but navigating the application process and starting off as a full-time student researcher can be daunting. In this 3-part blog, I talk about my tips for applying for summer research programs, from where to find opportunities to writing your personal statement, as well as what to expect from (and how to get the most out of) your research experience.

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All for Research and Research for All

By: Divya Ganugapati, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

A common myth about undergraduate research is that it is only intended for students interested in pursuing post-graduate programs. While research background may be beneficial for undergraduates looking towards graduate schools, it can also serve as a very influential experience for students seeking employment post-graduation.

In fact, research is a vital part of each profession and is constantly being performed by professionals in all lines of work. Don’t believe me? Here are just a few of many examples of the importance of research in various fields that might not require a graduate degree: Continue reading

Navigating the Mentor-Mentee Relationship

By: Ariane Garrett, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

The mentor – mentee relationship in a lab can be tricky to navigate. Unmet expectations are often the cause of breakdowns in the relationship. It’s essential to clarify goals and expectations early on to assure a productive and satisfying experience. Remember that the mentor-mentee relationship goes two ways. Just as your mentor holds you to certain baseline standards, you should expect certain things from them as well. As you begin a research experience, use the tips below to help you develop and maintain a strong mentor-mentee relationship. Continue reading