Student Research Blog

Taking the First Steps Toward Your Own Research

By Brendan Hogan, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

Student Research Blog Post: Taking the First Steps Toward Your Own Research. By PRA Brendan.Since finishing a research apprenticeship with a faculty mentor I have wanted to start my own research project, but I have struggled to figure out how. I’ve known for a while that I want to explore ways to utilize photography to help with environmental efforts to preserve natural parks and resources in the West, but it seemed like an enormous project to even begin. I became overwhelmed as I tried looking into past studies, professors on campus who work in this area, and even explored internships, yet it just was not coming together. Continue reading

How Research Helped Me Choose a Career

By Divya Ganugapati, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

As an undergraduate student there is a lot of pressure on you to figure out exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life at such a young age. Enrolling at UConn at 17 years old, I had no clue what some of the 110+ majors offered here even meant (Cognitive Science? What?) let alone having to choose one.

Before switching to a Cognitive Science major, I originally was a Physiology and Neurobiology major. I knew I was interested in a field relating to the brain since I had so many brain-oriented unanswered questions. Why are humans the only species to industrialize? What is the difference between humans, animals, and machines? What happens when your brain gets injured? How can some people switch between two or more languages? These questions are what motivated my major change from a purely physiological and anatomical education of the brain to an interdisciplinary understanding of the brain’s application to language, emotion, and personality. Continue reading

Pursuing Research Outside of the Lab

By Priscilla Grillakis, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

Student Research Blog Post: Pursuing Research Outside of the Lab. By PRA Priscilla.When attending such a well-known research university, it is difficult to go a day without hearing the seemingly hackneyed expression “get involved in research early on.” So often, this is interpreted to mean you should get involved in a professor’s research lab from freshman or sophomore year and continue this research until senior year. Although this a great form of a research experience, it is not the only form of undergraduate research.

Applying for a research grant independent from a specific lab is another form. Through my experience, I have learned that this is a great way to follow your own research interests, which you can continue to pursue throughout your undergraduate career. Continue reading

Gaining Confidence and Direction through Research/Creative Activity

By Emy Regan, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

Student Research Blog Post: Gaining Confidence and Direction Through Research and Creative Activity. By PRA Emy.Recently, I have been reflecting on my experience doing creative activity and research. I have gained so many valuable things from writing and illustrating a comic book through an IDEA grant. I’ve built amazing relationships with mentors, I’ve gained technical skill, but most valuable of all, I’ve gained confidence that I want to pursue a career in narrative illustration.

Research and creative activity can be a key to figuring out your aspirations and gaining direction. I knew when I started this project that there was a distinct possibility that I was not going to enjoy working independently on a comic book for a year. I had never worked on any project that long, let alone writing and illustrating a full book. However, I wanted to see if this career field was for me, and my research gave me an opportunity to test out this type of working situation while I had the guidance of the Office of Undergraduate Research and my mentors. Continue reading

Letters of Recommendation: Who I Asked and Why

By Veronica Pleasant, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

If you’re a senior, chances are you’re considering either graduate school or full time employment after graduation. If you chose the former, then you probably need a few letters of recommendation for your applications. Who do you ask? How do you form relationships with faculty who can write you letters of recommendation?

If you’re reading this and you’re a freshman, sophomore, or even a junior, keep the above questions in mind as you continue on.

As a recent applicant to veterinary school, as well as graduate school, I know asking for letters of recommendation can be terrifying. I felt totally underqualified and like a pest. However, I’ve spent the majority of my undergraduate career building relationships with mentors, and because of that I had plenty of people to turn to for recommendations. Here’s an overview of who I asked for recommendations and how I built those relationships. Continue reading

Research Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

By Shahan Kamal, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

Student Research Blog Post: Research Comes in All Shapes and Sizes. By PRA Shahan.Research happens in a lab, on a bench, with a bunch of microscopes and pipettes and bottles of various liquids on the side. Right? Sounds right to me…or at least it did. Research is so much more than that. It just might take a while before you realize that.

I remember the first time I met with a professor in his lab space to discuss the possibility of joining his group. I still distinctly remember looking around and having questions. Why are there freezers and fridges? There are so many computers here. Is that an ice machine? This is so different from what I expected. “The dry lab is across the hall.” What?

Continue reading

Finding and Approaching a Project Mentor: Creative Projects Edition

By Emy Regan, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

Student Research Blog Post: Finding and Approaching a Project Mentor, Creative Projects Edition. By PRA Emy.When I decided to apply for an IDEA grant, one step in the process really intimidated me. That step was approaching a project mentor. In creative endeavors, finding and approaching a project mentor works a little differently than in research. While there are no publications to read or labs to shadow in, there are artist statements, studio practices, and past work to learn about. These tips can help you select the right mentor, prepare for your first meeting, and ensure that you forge a relationship that will best serve your creative endeavors. Continue reading

What It’s Really Like to Be in the Health Research Program

By Natasha Patel, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

Are you interested in the Health Research Program? Is this program right for you? Is it possible to manage the time and travel commitment? If you are asking these questions, you have come to the right place. As someone who has been a part of the inaugural group of the Health Research Program, I believe I can share insights on how I managed to be successful with research and have a great experience while balancing school and other responsibilities throughout the years. Continue reading

Research: A Week in the Life

By Jamie Georgelos, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

Student Research Blog Post: Research: A Week in the Life. By PRA Jamie.The idea of “doing research” sounds so vague and pretty daunting as an undergraduate student. For people in the sciences, we usually picture a person in a white coat with a beaker doing… something. As a freshman, I wasn’t sure what those people in lab coats were actually doing. I assumed it was important but really didn’t understand it.

Research doesn’t have to be like this! Let’s take a walk through my past week to demystify what really happens behind the closed doors of a lab. Continue reading

Deadlines and You: How to Set Goals and Keep Them

By Emy Regan, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

Every year, on the first day of school, I have high hopes for my organization. I’ll use my planner every day! I’ll clean my whole apartment every Thursday night! Healthy dinners every night? No problem! Inevitably, in the first few weeks, these lofty goals slowly start to crumble. Why? Because I do not effectively organize my deadlines. Finally, after many years, and many organizational failures I have figured out some strategies to keep me on track past the first two weeks of the semester. Continue reading