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Aresty Undergraduate Research Program helps students find research

Introducing undergraduate students to research expands their knowledge differently from a classroom experience, said Brian Ballentine, executive director of the Aresty Undergraduate Research Program.

The Aresty Program connects students with research projects throughout the University, Ballentine said. The Summer Science Program grants opportunities for those on break, while the larger Research Assistant Program runs through the academic year.

“The general mission of the (Aresty) Research Program is to facilitate research and the research process,” he said. “It's primarily for undergraduates … the focus (is) on providing the entryway into the research experience and supporting them as they go forward.”

Students initially applying to the Aresty Program will become a research assistant, Ballentine said. These positions are open to all students, including rising seniors.

Those who are accepted may stay on with their professors after their first year separately from the Aresty program, he said.

“It’s very common for students to have that experience through Aresty and then to remain in the lab for the next couple of years,” he said. “They can only do the Research Assistant Program once, but professors are usually using the program to find students they can keep for a long time.”

Professors will describe their research and what they need in a candidate, Ballentine said. Ideally, students will have already taken certain courses and demonstrated an ability to handle the responsibilities of the position.

These professors will then look at the applicants to their program and select the most appropriate fit, Ballentine said.

“Last year we received 1,200 individual applicants, and there were 350 students who were selected,” he said. “The number of projects is smaller than the number of students selected … this year we have 255 projects.”

Students are able to apply to more than one project, he said. Students applying for the Research Assistant Program are able to apply for three projects, while students interested in the Summer Science Program can apply for two.

This year, about 150 of the projects are in a STEM field, Ballentine said. The rest are divided into the humanities and social sciences.

Almost 80 departments from every school within the University are represented in the Aresty Program, he said.

Despite this, many of the projects are interdisciplinary, Ballentine said.

“From a research perspective, things are increasingly cross-disciplinary (and) professors are cross-listed,” he said. “(Projects) do span multiple disciplines.”

Though research at the University might be trying to answer different questions from those a corporation might ask, the work involved is comparable, he said.

The deadline to apply to the program is April 7, Ballentine said. Further information can be found at aresty.rutgers.edu.

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