April 24, 2019 | 63° F

Aresty research opportunities at Rutgers are still expanding

Photo by Malaika Jawed |

The Aresty Research Program is the University's main undergraduate research network. It allows students such as Samantha Fong (left), a School of Arts and Sciences junior, and Sean Connelly (right), a School of Arts and Sciences senior, to take part in meaningful research with professors distinguished in their fields and offers opportunities from over 100 different University departments ranging from STEM to the humanities and social sciences.

Rutgers’ federal funding for research and development eclipses that of all other state colleges, with a budget of approximately $658 million, according to the University's website. A portion of those funds is directed to the Aresty Research Program, the official undergraduate research network on campus.

Established in 2004, the Aresty program was the creation of Jerome and Lorraine Aresty. The two “recognized the importance of connecting undergraduates beyond the confines of the classroom," as stated on the website.

Since Aresty’s birth nearly 15 years ago, the initiative has expanded to include numerous specialized programs as well as undergraduate leadership positions. The project search catalog currently holds research opportunities from over 100 departments, from STEM to the humanities to the social sciences.

“You have the opportunity to connect with faculty in a very structured way, where you don’t have to track them down. (Aresty) is allowing students to evolve more quickly than they probably would have if they just stuck to their academics. It allows them to be part of something bigger than themselves,” said Tamiah Brevard, the director of the Aresty Undergraduate Research Center.

The Aresty program’s many resources and connections make the selection process quite competitive, she said. Students who are interested can apply for each project they are interested in and are then called in for an interview. 

Although there is no cutoff GPA, individuals in good academic standing and who have a palpable interest are most competitive, she said. 

Brevard said over 600 students applied for 65 positions in the Summer Science Program last year. The year-round Research Assistant Program followed a similar trend, with over 1,300 students applying.

Once undergraduates have been accepted, they are trained in proper scientific observance. Students learn ethical limits of their research, the extent of liberty that they have and how to express their research to diverse bodies with contrasting levels of knowledge.

These communication skills, along with research findings, are presented at a symposium toward the end of the year. The Research Assistant Program’s symposium is a day-long event at the Livingston Student Center, usually with over 500 student researchers presenting. Since a vast majority of these projects are STEM-based, Brevard mentioned the goal to encourage more humanities majors, to pursue research.

Perhaps one of the largest deterrent factors of humanities research is the logistics of handling and applying obtained knowledge, Brevard said.

Michael Antosiewicz, an Aresty senior peer instructor and a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said that humanities scholarship integrates primary source evidence into accounts of our experience in the world.

"While not always practical, humanities research possesses its own intrinsic value," he said. "Humanities research allows us to understand and study human society, which is what receives and utilizes the knowledge gained by STEM research. Without humanities, we cannot practically ground or implement our advances in science.” 

As we enter the realm of social sciences, the numerical data commonly seen in STEM rears its head. 

Vlad Goldfarb, an Aresty research assistant and a School of Arts and Sciences junior, is conducting research on the demographics of young elected leaders under the age of 35 in the United States. His research is a blend of both quantitative and qualitative methods, with finding hard statistics while also organizing interviews and considering social factors that may have influenced elections, he said.

Aside from the more seasoned programs, a new project is set to launch this upcoming spring. The Geoscience REsearch At the Cordillera Talamanca (GREAT) Project is an 18-month immersive research opportunity in Costa Rica. 

During the spring, students will take classes in basic research practices and culture and history. In the summer, a five week trip to Costa Rica to collect physical data will sustain Aresty research in the fall semester under Vadim Levin, a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Charles Keeton, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The team will return to Costa Rica in the winter to inform their research counterparts on their analyses.

The GREAT Project is the first of its kind in breadth and longevity and is an initiative to further develop student-faculty relationships as well as provide students with resources they require.

“Aresty’s impact on students can potentially be immense. While it introduces them to research, it can also place them in a research project for the remainder of their undergraduate career," Antosiewicz said. "Professors benefit from the supply of motivated and qualified researchers. I think the University ultimately gains the most from programs. Aresty sustains a thriving engine of research that boosts Rutgers’ reputation as a top research university while forming a research community."

Kelly Kim is a School of Engineering sophomore. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum

Kelly Kim

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