How to get into research?

As a public university, U of Cincy is dedicated to research and providing students with opportunities for research. If you are in STEM, chances are that every professor you meet in class will also be conducting research. The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, which is ranked as the 2nd best children’s hospital, is right by our campus. Children’s also offers several opportunities to U of Cincy’s students to participate in research.

This blog is a brief summary of my research experiences and how I got involved.

When did I start doing research?
– I started research my freshman year. Even though I was in the lab for only a month, it was a valuable experience because I learned about some interesting equipment and lab techniques.

How did I get that position?
– I had mentioned to my adviser that I was interested in research. She connected me to a professor, who did not have any positions in his lab then. But he was able to connect me to one of his colleagues who was looking for an undergraduate student. It is important to maintain good relations with faculty and staff because they will most likely think of you if an opportunity arises.

Why did I leave after a month?
– I could not commit to the time requirements since I was already taking 18 credit hours, and working on-campus. This is something to consider before you get into research. Do you actually have the time to commit to research? As undergraduates, you are not expected to spend a lot of time in lab, but usually professors prefer if you can be in the lab for one big chunk of time versus half an hour every day. This is especially true for wet labs. For some other types of research, you do not need to be physically present in the lab.

Did I do any more research?
– I have done research in 2 more labs since. This past summer, I participated in the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program. The program pairs you with a faculty of your choice, and provides an immersive research experience. I was paired with a professor at the College of Pharmacy. I was doing research full-time, and getting paid for it. You can read here about my summer research experience.

I am also currently doing research on main campus. Since this is for my final capstone, I am doing research for academic credit. I am taking 2 credit hours of research, which translates to 6 hours in the lab.

How did I acquire these positions?
– The university actually does a great job of sending out information about available research opportunities. There are several other research programs like WISE that happen during the summer. These summer programs are widely advertised throughout the university, and they are paid positions.

For my current capstone, I looked at my department’s website to see professors’ research focus. I reached out to several professors who I was interested in working with, and asked if I could meet with them or their graduate student. I then decided which lab I wanted to join.

Are research positions paid?
– As freshmen, you will most likely not get paid for research. This is because your first research experience is going to be mostly you learning. Summer research programs are however paid. Summer programs require you to work full-time, and you’re typically paid a stipend. Throughout the school year, there are also some paid positions both on campus and at the Children’s hospital. There are also some other programs during the school year that pay a stipend. These positions are either posted on the job search page, or you will see plenty of flyers in your departments. Usually department heads also send out emails to notify students of any opportunities.

How would a freshman go about finding a research position?
Your best resources for research opportunity are your professors. Talk to your professors about what research they are doing, and if you could possibly join their lab to learn. Keep an eye out on your emails from the department. Also talk to you advisers as they might know of an opportunity. I would also recommend applying to the summer research programs.

This has been my experience with research so far. I hope this helps you find a position too!

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