When I first envisioned research, I thought of a white coat scientist in a laboratory setting. I would never have guessed the EUREKA program would expose me to so many different fields of research. Research projects range from analyzing biochemical processes to coding computer programs and working with participants to examining complex mathematical functions. Although the term “research” can be associated to the cliche white coat lab setting and specific areas of study, the beauty of research is that it can be applied interdisciplinarily with the same goal of advancing knowledge and bettering society. Aside from that, I perceived research as a lone activity. With the experience I’ve gained so far in my lab, I’ve realized that I am constantly communicating with lab members about data analysis and various machinery. Research is a cohesive, team-effort and even includes communicating with people outside the lab such as official personnel and other faculty advisors. In fact, communication and connections are one of the most crucial factors leading to success in a research project.
On the other hand, I completely expected to be surrounded by intelligent and inspiring people such as my project’s faculty advisor, post doctoral, graduate students, and research assistants. Each colleague is an opportunity to learn something completely new and deepen my understanding of the project at hand. Additionally, I knew that research rewards hard work and continuous effort. Whether you are running a participant, analyzing data, or keeping up with the literature, you are responsible to have the initiative to do those things. By doing such tasks efficiently, you gain more information and skills directly tied into the betterment of your future. On top of that, expressing your interests and initiative to the lab members allows them to find ways to make your experience as beneficial as possible.
All the experiences I have gained from research were beyond what I imagined for myself and it’s a journey that every researcher takes. Research takes you down a road you never expect, and from there you decide what you can do with those skills. Ultimately, everyone’s research experience will be different and your perception of research will change over time in hopes to gain a better grasp of being a more valuable researcher.