Mixer presents research opportunities to undergrads


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Photo by Daniel Naftalovich |

Students come together at the Cook Campus Center yesterday to learn ways to gain research experience in the science field. Faculty members also engaged with undergraduates to show them the value of scientific research during the mixer.


Undergraduates looking for research opportunities in the sciences mixed and mingled with professors and postdoctoral students yesterday during the Office of Undergraduate Education’s “Undergraduate Research Mixer.”

Cook Campus Dean of Students Barbara Turpin said in the Cook Campus Center that working on research in the sciences at an undergraduate level can help further a student’s knowledge in the given field.

“Students do research [and] learn how to do science. That in itself is a valuable experience — plus, when you work on a science experiment, you work as a team. You get to know the other students and faculty members very well,” said Turpin, who hosted the mixer.

Research allows students to get hands-on experience in the field and acquire data, as well as gain mentors in their respective fields, Turpin said.

She said some students have a particular interest in working with a faculty member but may not be able to do research because of a lack of funding.

“We want to make sure students are aware of the opportunities to do research — and the benefits — and how to go about identifying a faculty member to work with and start that process,” she said.

Dena Seidel, director of the University Center for Digital Filmmaking, presented a different approach to researching, which students can utilize at the undergraduate level.

“I’m here because we wanted to help students of all majors communicate their research to a large public audience. Students would work with the center to document the research that they encounter and experience and share it in a professional manner,” Seidel said.

Maria Corradini, a postdoctoral candidate in the Department of Food Science, said research experience is key for students because it helped students become acquainted with laboratory techniques.

Corradini said she and her students will identify and characterize molecules in food that can be used to indicate the quality of foods.

“Things that are already present in food — you can monitor them in the distribution chain or product line, and see if they change over time,” she said. “They are linked to the quality of food, so you can figure out what is going on with them over time.”

Farhana Akter, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, said it is important to have a research background — especially when applying for graduate jobs.

“You never know what’s going to happen. You start researching for someone — next thing you know, you’re working for them. It’s an early start for the future, and the earlier you start, the better it is for you to gain knowledge on researching,” said Akter, an event attendee.

Bryan Ryder, an event attendee, said having research experience gives students an advantage when applying to graduate schools.

“You’ll be better off when you do research during graduate school, but for those that do not go on to graduate school, they would have some experience under their belt and know more on what they would be doing, research-wise,” said Ryder, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences first-year student.


By Julian Chokkattu

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