Student Research Blog

My First Research Experience: Being Open to the Unexpected

My First Research Experience: Being Open to the Unexpected. By PRA Claire.By Claire Fresher, Peer Research Ambassador

Many things surprised me when I started my first research opportunity. I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard a few things from upperclassmen about their own experiences and had attended a couple presentations from OUR, which is what got me interested in research in the first place, but I had no idea what my personal research experience was going to be like.

Something I hadn’t expected was how many people there are in a research group to support you and how willing people are to help. When I started my research position, I was introduced to a graduate student that worked in the lab station right next to mine. She showed me around the lab space and set me up on my computer. She was always there to ask quick questions or help me with any problems I encountered, as were the other people using the lab space, even if they weren’t in my specific lab group. Continue reading

Presenting Results at a Virtual Conference

Presenting Results at a Virtual Conference. By PRA Pavitra.By Pavitra Makarla, Peer Research Ambassador

It may seem nerve-wracking at first when you begin preparing to present your research at conferences, and the prospect of doing it virtually can be even more intimidating. I’m here to tell you that online presentations are not as difficult as you think it might be — all it takes is some extra preparation and a little bit of confidence.

I presented my data at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS) Virtual Conference in 2020, as well as in the Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Exhibitions (2020). Both conferences were vastly different in procedure, but I had to prepare essentially the same things.

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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

Preparing for a Conference Presentation

By Sarah Tsuruo, Peer Research AmbassadorPreparing for a Conference Presentation. By PRA Sarah.

Preparing, presenting and networking are what I believe to be the three major parts of attending a research conference. Personally, I’ve presented at both Yale and Harvard medical school research conferences, and while daunting, it is doable and exciting!

Pro tips: OUR’s biannual Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition is a great way to dip your toe in the “research conference” pool AND for conferences outside of UConn, don’t be afraid to submit your abstract, you never know if you’ll get accepted to present unless you apply! 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.

The Project

The summer after my junior year, I worked on an IDEA Grant research project examining the alt-right movement in the United States. I spent time exploring the projects of numerous other researchers and centers focused on countering hate groups. Through this research, I became aware of research as a career option, which is something I had not considered before. This was the first time I considered pursuing a career as a researcher.

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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

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