How I Got Into Research
Starting UCI as a Biological Sciences major, research was all around me. Every class I would go to, professors would take a couple of minutes off of their lectures to talk about their research labs or projects, and TA’s and students could be overheard sharing their exciting stories.
By the end of my second year, the intrigue thrilled me, so I decided to try to get into one of the research programs. The first step I took was speaking to a counselor regarding the process of enrolling in a research lab. The counselor advised me to look over the catalog available online, read all about the different areas and topics being explored by professors, and narrow the list down to the ones that captured my interests the most. It is important to me to be able to dedicate my time to a topic of research that I am truly passionate about being a part of.
After finally compiling a list of five research topics that grasped my attention, I proceeded to email those professors - explaining my intent in joining their research teams. Following a couple of weeks, I heard back from a total of four professors, with two of them stating that there are no spots currently available in their labs. I was slightly disappointed, but was glad regardless that I was able to obtain an interview to meet with the other two professors. The conversation went smoothly with both of them, and their topics were something that I was truly interested in.
Eventually, I decided to go for the topic that struck more of an importance to me, and it also required me to learn a new skill (coding), which I had no previous experience in. I got accepted during spring quarter of my sophomore year, and I spent that summer finding my way around the coding program - learning its annotations and practicing the syntax - through the mini practice projects that my
professor assigned to me. Returning in the fall of my junior year, I was ready to take on tasks to help with the bigger research project, which used the coding program to analyze the biostatistics and data gathered on students in the Biological Sciences program at UCI. Up until now, I have been meeting with the research team once a week, working with my teammates on assigned tasks and meeting so that we all may discuss our findings.
Joining research has allowed me to not only acquire new skills and perspectives on various topics, but also enabled me to enhance my scientific knowledge, gain new friends, and develop a mentorship relationship with my advising professor which truly shapes my wholesome college experience.