Student Research Blog

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

The Importance of Mentors

By Anisha Jain, OUR Peer Research AmbassadorThe Importance of Mentors. By PRA Anisha.

Why do we need mentors anyway?

Learning can become onerous for anyone and often we feel its weight on our shoulders. Competitiveness in academic culture can become toxic. Having good mentors can help one to navigate the obstacles faced in academic culture. Mentors instill their passions and interests which not only can define our professional lives but impart critical and fundamental experiences in research. I owe a lot to my mentors. The ones who spend hours sitting with me and teaching. The ones who give me opportunities to make my own mistakes. The ones who believed in me even when I didn’t know what I was doing. Mentors give us access to various academic resources, mold us into professionals, and help guide us towards our goals. Continue reading

Starting Off With Self-Advocacy

By Brendan Hogan, OUR Peer Research AmbassadorStarting off With Self-Advocacy. By PRA Brendan.

Getting started in research can be tricky. There are many details to consider. You may be wondering what kind of research you want to do, when you want to work on a project, or even who to contact in order to get started. Out of all these concerns, one of your priorities should be ensuring that you advocate for yourself while working under, or in collaboration with, a mentor.

It can be daunting to advocate for yourself when you are trying to successfully land a research position without any experience. You may want to take the first offer you are given. Once involved, you may try to avoid any conflict or differences of opinion with your mentor. Getting involved in research does not have to conflict with your ability be your own advocate. Incorporating self-advocacy into your research experience will allow you to make the most of the experience and fully realize your goals. Continue reading

A Week in the Life of a Student Researcher

By Sarah Tsuruo, OUR Peer Research AmbassadorA Week in the Life of a Student Researcher. By PRA Sarah.

Welcome to a week in my life, where I’ll take you behind the scenes of my research work. As a senior undergraduate researcher, I get to work more independently and you’ll see me zipping around the lab doing some pretty cool experiments on my own!

Having been involved in research since freshman year, I am currently a part of the Bolnick Lab in the EEB department where I’m working on my Honors thesis: analyzing the sex-specific immune-endocrine response in the model organism the Threespine stickleback. I’m interested in the immune response of the stickleback to parasites which triggers a fibrosis response, and its trade-offs with the endocrine pathway and sex hormones. In this lab I’m also continuing work from my SURF project, a manuscript about sexual dimorphism in lake-stream pairs with my PI and a former postdoc from the lab. Lastly, as an extension of the work from my clinical research internship at UConn Health last fall, I am finishing up a manuscript based off a pilot study and literature review I had completed with my PI, Dr. Reichenberger. Continue reading

Similarities and Differences in My Research Experiences

By Claire Fresher, OUR Peer Research AmbassadorSimilaries and Differences in My Research Experiences. By PRA Claire.

Many kinds of research occur on campus. Each research lab is different and unique. As a mechanical engineering student I have had the privilege of working in two labs that have shown me two different sides of what research can look like while also showing me overlap between the two.

In both labs, and probably at any lab you’ll be a part of, communication is very important. In my labs, there are weekly group meetings where all the researchers come together to share what they have been working on and to ask questions if they are stuck or need guidance. These meetings are very beneficial to see where others are at or learn about the amazing things other researchers are working on. This is a time to ask for help, which can be very important especially when starting out in research and doing tasks and using materials that you may have never seen before. There are also graduate students in both labs that are always willing and able to sit down with you and walk through the hard steps of the process since they have probably already done it before. They are a great resource to use while doing research and in the future, if you plan to go to graduate school. Continue reading

The Importance of Connecting With Your PI

By Alexandra Bettencourt, Peer Research AmbassadorThe Importance of Connecting With Your PI. By PRA Alexandra.

I will never forget my first academic advising appointment as a freshman at UConn, because it was there that I met a mentor who would help to shape the entirety of my academic career. Prior to meeting Dr. Sarah Reed for the first time, I had read her faculty biography to learn more about her. After skimming her qualifications and publications, my eighteen-year-old self, that had just begun taking BIO 1107, was a bit intimidated by her scientific accomplishments. These feelings melted away within minutes of meeting her, as she welcomed me with a smile and genuine enthusiasm for helping guide me through my academic career and accomplish my lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian. Continue reading

How I Got Started in Research

By Oreoluwa Olowe, Peer Research AmbassadorHow I Got Started in Research. By PRA Oreoluwa.

I got started with research the second semester of freshman year. As a Mechanical Engineering major there are activities organized to allow students to get a better understanding of research or come up with ideas they wish to pursue. This was where I was introduced to my first research experience.

I decided to work on improving or developing knee braces for athletes with my fellow engineers. It was an amazing experience working with 5 other mechanical engineering students for Professor Jason Lee. I was able to develop relationship and technical skills outside of my classes. Continue reading

Follow Your Curiosity, Not Your Major

By Mukund Desibhatla, OUR Peer Research AmbassadorFollow Your Curiosity, Not Your Major. By PRA Mukund.

As a Physiology & Neurobiology (PNB) major, I have always been surrounded by the expectation of joining a PNB lab. While my classmates quickly joined labs with professors within their majors, I struggled to find mentors who would be a good fit for my interests.

Feeling discouraged, I reached out to my PATH mentor, who is also a PNB major. He shared similar frustrations but ultimately joined research in the psychological sciences. Although his mentor was a faculty member outside of his major, the professor’s compassion and guidance helped my friend foster a genuine interest in the study of brain-behavior from a different lens. Continue reading