Thinking about Research

As you consider research, it is important to know why you want to make this commitment. Do you want to participate more actively in cutting edge science that you have learned about in the classroom? Is there a particular field or topic you would like to learn more about? Do you want to gain specific skills? Do you want to explore research as a potential career, or as a component of a career? Do you want to experience part of the work environment in a medical facility? Do you want to get course credit? Do you want to embark on a project that could evolve into a senior honors thesis?

Think also about the type of research you may find most useful for your individual goal or set of goals. Would you like to help run scientific experiments? Would you like to help design and/or analyze the results of experiments? Would you like to conduct survey research? Would you like to do archival research in a library setting? Would you prefer to be part of a research team or to work alone? Would you like to do research with humans or animals? Would you like to work with a specific species of animal, or a particular population of humans (e.g., children, elderly, persons with a certain disorder)?

It is helpful to consult with others as you think through these questions. Faculty you already know, other faculty including members of the MBB Board of Faculty Advisors [link here, <mbb/advising>], academic advisors (especially in your concentration but also including Shawn Harriman), teaching fellows and resident tutors (who are usually themselves researchers), and fellow students who are already involved in research are all great sounding boards and sources of additional information and perspectives.

Finally, give some thought about what you can offer a research team. This will help you when you come to applying for specific positions. A current resume is always valuable. You may have specific research experience already, or have taken relevant course work. You may be a good team player with a track record of responsibility and accomplishing goals. You do not usually need to have training in the specific techniques used in a laboratory or research program, as most researchers expect to train their undergraduate assistants. Positions that do have specific expectations will note them in their job description.