Student Research Blog

Finding Your Research Fit: Bench, Quantitative, Qualitative, or Somewhere In-Between?

By Alexandra Goldhamer, Peer Research Ambassador

Student Research Blog, Finding Your Fit, By PRA Alexandra.With all of the research opportunities available at UConn, it can be difficult to determine which experience would be best for you. One of my majors, molecular & cell biology, is more in line with bench research. My other major, human rights, relates more to qualitative research. Further, my minor in mathematics sparked my interest in quantitative research. I have diverse passions that I have been able to explore through coursework on different subjects. However, when participating in research during the academic year, it is important to commit your time and resources to a particular project in a particular lab. This allows for your knowledge, strengths, and techniques to grow in a particular subject that will inform your particular career goals. So, how do you know what’s the best fit for you?

Attend conferences and workshops

Early on in my undergraduate career, I attended both the Mathematics Continued Conference and some of the presentations that were put on by the STEM Seminar Series that focused on molecular biology. I knew I was interested in these topics and this was confirmed by reading about faculty members’ research interests on their department websites. During both of these experiences, I evaluated 1) how interested I was in each of the topics, 2) what it would mean to make small contributions to these fields, and 3) if I would enjoy the day to day tasks that lead to the end goal of small discoveries. I found myself fascinated by the biology presentations, and was intrigued by the fact that any contribution in this field could potentially have an impact on clinical outcomes. Although I was still curious about what the day to day experience would entail. Continue reading

Why Involvement Shouldn’t Be Optional for You!

By Stephanie Schofield, Peer Research Ambassador

Student Research Blog. Why Involvement Shouldn't Be Optional for You! By PRA Stephanie.The minute we step into college, there is an aura of both stress and also of relief. The stress, for many, comes from this daunting, new academic environment we are exposed to. The relief, on the other hand, is from knowing we’ve finally made it. We all fought so hard to get here, many of us spent our high school years trying to earn good grades and also get heavily involved in extracurricular activities to boost our applicant profile. Now that you’re here, extracurriculars don’t matter anymore, right?

Well, not necessarily! Of course it can depend on the major, but many of us here are either pursuing a job after college or graduate school, like myself. In my last blog, I mentioned my own example of taking a gap year to gain more experience before entering graduate school. People who know me and/or have reviewed my resume and CV before are reading that last entry and last sentence rolling their eyes. Why on earth would I need to gain more experience when I have so many opportunities and experiences already under my belt? For me, it’s not that I need to, but more so, I want to. Continue reading

Internships vs. Research

By Kira Cuneo, Peer Research Ambassador

Student Research Blog. Internships vs. Research. By PRA Kira.As someone who has had both internship and research experience, I thought it would be important to dive into the differences between these two experiences and the value that they have added towards pursuing my future goals.

As an engineering major, there is a focus on securing a competitive internship and making as many professional connections as possible. Research is not something that a lot of my peers have found to be essential to their undergraduate career. Even my professors, who are involved in research themselves, have promoted ways to find internships and future full-time positions. Continue reading

Taking the First Step in Undergraduate Research

By Alyssa Daniels, Peer Research Ambassador

Student Research Blog. Taking the First Step in Undergraduate Research. By PRA Alyssa.Are you an undergraduate student who wants to get started in research at UConn, but you aren’t sure how to take the first step? I know when I got to UConn, I was surrounded by students doing amazing research. I knew there were incredible opportunities on campus, but I didn’t know how to find them! It can be so frustrating figuring out how to take the first step! Here are some tips and tricks on how to get started:

Faculty Bios on Department Websites

This is a pretty straightforward way to get started on your research journey! All you have to do is google your department of interest (e.g., Psychology) and “UConn.” Then go to “people,” then “faculty directory.” Boom! You have a whole list of names, faces, and their current/previous work right at your fingertips. I highly recommend exploring these department pages as this is a wonderful way to get to know the faculty here at UConn in your subject area of interest. Read their bios and get familiar with their work. I’d even recommend googling them to learn more about the research they do! Then, make a list of whose work interests you. The faculty members will almost always have an email address listed. I recommend reaching out! Check out our “email etiquette” section on the Office of Undergraduate Research website for recommendations when emailing faculty. Continue reading

The Research Elevator Pitch

By Erik Choi, Peer Research Ambassador

Student Research Blog. The Research Elevator Pitch. By PRA Erik.Being an undergraduate student researcher requires dedication and commitment, so it’s natural for people around you to question what you spend your time doing.

How many times have you been faced with the question, “what do you research?” or asked to tell someone about your research? These can be daunting questions. Do you give them the full-length response just to witness the puzzlement on their face as they get lost in the jargon of your research? Or do you give them an oversimplification that doesn’t do justice to the nuances of your work? It’s a tough conundrum that illustrates how research can be a double-edged sword: its incredible versatility gives it interdisciplinary breadth that simultaneously makes it difficult for an individual to be an expert in all areas of research.

The ability to talk about your research in a succinct but informative way is an integral part of being an undergraduate researcher. This is where the research elevator pitch is important. Your research elevator pitch should be a 30-second to 2-minute debrief of your work that encompasses the workings and importance of your research. It explains what you study and contextualizes its greater relevance to others outside of your niche. It doesn’t need to be memorized; in fact, you should be ready to tailor your pitch to your audience. It is more so a general blueprint you can follow when you need to talk about your research. Continue reading

Surviving Your First Week of Research

By Paul Isaac, Peer Research Ambassador

Student Research Blog. Surviving Your First Week of Research. By PRA Paul.If you’ve been to the OUR website and are reading this blog post right now, you’ll probably realize that we have a LOT of resources aimed at helping students get into labs and explaining how to reach out to faculty, but what actually happens once you actually get into a lab? In truth, your first week of research will likely be stressful, disorienting, and will heavily influence your enjoyment and connection to the research you’re pursuing.

To this end, I’d like to offer some tips to help you make the most of that critical first week. That being said, as a biological researcher most of these tips best apply to biology and STEM labs, but many of them should be universal to any field of research. Continue reading

Rest, Research, and Resolutions

By Anabelle Bergstrom, Peer Research Ambassador

Student Research Blog. Rest, Research, and Resolutions. By PRA Anabelle.As I write this, it is the first few weeks of 2023. With a new year comes new plans, new experiences, and of course, New Year’s Resolutions.

It seems like no matter where you are or who you talk to this time of year, there are constant reminders to set goals for the next 365 days. Like many of you, I am a massive planner and love setting goals. I also love taking advantage of any opportunity that is put before me. I am constantly bombarded with new opportunities and research ideas that I just can’t seem to shake. What is the deadline for this opportunity? How can I fit that into my schedule? If I just push myself a little bit more this semester, I can fit all these opportunities in and make my goals a reality! Continue reading

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

By Stephanie Schofield, Peer Research Ambassador

Student Research Blog. Slow and Steady Wins the Race! By PRA Stephanie.As a child, I grew up listening to the story of “The Tortoise and the Hare,” in which a stealthy Hare mocks a Tortoise for thinking they could beat the Hare in a race. Yet, the Hare becomes so burnt out that he falls asleep mid-race, and the Tortoise ultimately wins.

We are all greedy for experiences, one way or another, our “race” being what dreams we hold for after completing our degrees. Some of us, stressing over the 7% acceptance rates of medical, dental, or genetic counseling programs, feel an anxious drive to pile on as many extracurriculars as we can. If you’re anything like me, you sometimes have compulsive desires to take on extra commitments that will make you more “competitive” to jobs or graduate schools. Some of us are so nervous about not getting into our dream job or graduate school that we frantically join every relevant club, research project, or job that we can to beat the increasing competitiveness of the post-college world. Continue reading

Don’t Restrict Yourself to a Traditional Path: Honor Your Passions

By Alexandra Goldhamer, Peer Research Ambassador

Student Research Blog. Don't Restrict Yourself to a Traditional Path: Honor Your Passions. By PRA Alexandra.For pre-medical and pre-professional students there is pressure to pursue a predefined path and check certain boxes to appear as the ideal candidate. Following these presumed requirements with a lack of passion will not facilitate an environment that is conducive to a college experience that allows for exploration of your interests and the sculpture of your unique, creative path.

While I became involved in research because I was truly interested, I did enter college with the notion that getting involved in undergraduate research was something that I was “supposed” to do to be a competitive applicant for post-graduate opportunities. I became involved in research in the Physiology and Neurobiology (PNB) Department where I study the neural underpinnings of obesity and anxiety. While I enjoy my research in molecular neurobiology, I felt as though I had additional passions that remained unexplored. Continue reading

Balance and Burnout

By Alex Clonan, Peer Research Ambassador

Student Research Blog. Balance and Burnout. By PRA Alex.Getting started in undergraduate research can be an overwhelming (but exciting!) process. You are learning how to answer scientific questions, meeting new people, and gaining background knowledge on an entirely new field!

While all of these are exciting ventures, it’s important to remember that you are still a student, and you have to take care of yourself.

During my time as an undergraduate researcher, I have found that one of the biggest challenges in getting acclimated is time management and burnout. I struggled with it over my years in research, and have known many peers who have as well.

However, it’s important to realize that research can take different forms and time management has a learning curve. Continue reading