The Undergraduate Research and Innovation (URI) group at NJIT hosted a session this past Thursday to inform its participants about the multiple research opportunities available to undergraduates at NJIT. Talina Knox, the organizer of the session, wanted to ensure students were aware of research opportunities on campus such as TechQuest and the Newark Innovation Acceleration Challenge, as well as stress the benefits of getting involved in research. Guest speakers, present at the session, discussed the details of their research over the summer and informed students of many perks of conducting research such as resume building, improved grades in research-related courses, time management, and presentation skills. If you are a student looking to get involved in research and are not sure how, here are a few steps you can follow to get your first research experience.
If you’re looking to do research with a specific professor, you should find the professor on the NJIT website and figure out what their research is about. Look for a particular research topic you’re interested in and find out as much as you can about that topic. Next, email the professor you’re interested in doing research with and let them know you would like to work alongside them with the research being conducted. The email should explain why you are interested in the research being done and how you could benefit from being given the opportunity to be involved in such research. Following that, you should suggest an idea applicable to the professor’s research to show you’re keenly interested and are able to potentially contribute ideas to the group. Finally, make sure to ask in the email when the professor is available so you can stop by the lab and discuss research ideas.
Afterwards, the professor will most likely be willing to let you see their lab, especially because you’ve shown an interest in potentially working with them. However, there are many factors which will determine whether or not a professor will be willing to accept you into their lab, including available funding, the professor’s schedule, and the size of the lab. All these points are definitely worth mentioning when you meet the professor for the first time.
When you meet with the professor, be sure to express you have an interest in doing research with them; also, if you’re interested in publishing a paper with the lab at some point, be sure to mention it and ask if this is something they would ultimately be willing to do with you. When you first start, you won’t know what you’re doing most of the time, but that’s okay because you’re just starting out. It is important to be able to go to someone in the lab, whether it be a postdoc, a graduate student or another more experienced undergraduate so you can get immediate feedback about the issues you’re encountering. That being said, knowing the lab members roles in your project and availability will be pertinent to your success in the lab. Finally, it’s important to make sure you’ll fit right in with the group. During your first lab visit, definitely listen in and observe the interactions between members of the lab; ensure that this is an environment you would enjoy being a part of. For more information about research opportunities be sure to go to the next URI meeting Thursday November 13th, at 4 pm in room 225 in the campus center.
By Steve Susanibar