The Sweet Life of Undergraduate Research

Nov 6, 2012   //   by Gloria Lee   //   Blog, Compass People  //  No Comments

I was introduced to research by my very own Compass mentor Anna Zaniewski. It just so happened that my interests in physics matched her research area, so the summer after my freshman year, I started volunteering in Professor Alex Zettl’s lab and helping Anna make solar cells. I was hooked! I loved getting my hands dirty and seeing classroom theories work in real life. I only had one introductory physics class under my belt at the time, but was assured that it’s totally cool to be a non-expert going into a new project. The whole point of undergraduate research is to be introduced to a lab environment and learn some new and interesting science. Like Anna mentions in her blog post, the graduate students you will be working with expect you to ask lots of questions, so ask and learn away!

While I continue to work in Professor Zettl’s lab during the school year, I also participated in research opportunities at other universities during the summer peut on se procurer du viagra sans ordonnance. The Cal Energy Corps took me to Hong Kong to research plastic solar cells, and as a National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network REU student, I worked at UT Austin making a tiny microphone. These experiences were eye-opening, both inside the lab and out. Not only did I get to throw myself into research projects and learn about topics I had never even heard of before, I also got to interact with an amazing cohort of mentors and peers and explore some fabulous cities. I would highly recommend applying to summer research programs if you’re interested in: seeing what grad school is like, experiencing the research environment at another university, traveling and summer-vacationing and cool-people-meeting and cutting-edge-science-learning all at once. Many programs offer paid summer internships (the ones I participated in covered transportation and housing in addition to providing a stipend), and they often hold a capstone conference or poster session at the end where you can gain valuable experience in presenting your research.

Being an undergraduate researcher has been and still is a rewarding adventure. I feel so lucky to have incredible mentors and intriguing projects that inspire me to continue doing research in the future. I think if you’re open to different projects and patient with yourself in the lab, undergraduate research can be a really neat experience.

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