My STEP Project: Meigan Way

STEP Reflection Prompts

 

As you may recall from your STEP signature project proposal, your STEP signature project was designed to foster transformational learning—that is, learning that challenged you personally and helped you gain broader and deeper understandings of yourself, others, and the world around you.  Please address the following prompts to help you reflect on your experiences completing your STEP signature project; please give careful and critical thought to your responses.

 

Name: Meigan Way

 

Type of Project: Undergraduate Research Thesis

 

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

My STEP project included living in an off campus apartment for the last month of summer so that I could get a head start on my undergraduate research thesis. This was the first time living on my own in an apartment. I am doing my thesis with the Department of Food Science and Technology and focusing it on assessing the consumer acceptance of safflower oil and fatty acid composition in wheat pretzels with soy and their likelihood to be commercialized. This research thesis takes a full school year to complete, so this summer I started measuring data that we had collected for the project and plan to continue these measurements throughout the year until the final thesis is completed.

 

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

This is my first time conducting my own research project. I have helped out in two labs here at Ohio State: the lab of Dr. Thayer in the Psychology Department and the lab of Dr. Vodovotz in the Food Science and Technology Department. Before starting my own thesis, I had been helping out with other projects but mainly worked on assembling packets or testing subjects for the studies. After starting work on my thesis, I realized how much detail and data organization research truly entails and the time commitment that comes along with it. I am a Nutrition Sciences major, so I have taken many lab classes, but conducting your own research is a different experience because you don’t know what the results will show. Lab activities in my courses all had specific outcomes that had been previously recorded. I am excited to complete this research project and share my findings at the Denman forum.

 

Along with the research component of my STEP project, I lived independently from the university and my family in an apartment for the first time. Living independently showed me how much responsibility comes along with renting or owning your own home. Keeping up with payments on utilities, rent, groceries, and miscellaneous things needed is tough, especially as a college student. I underestimated the cost of living until I lived in an apartment, and it has made me grateful for the life my parents have given me. It has taught me not to take the little things for granted such as a clean home and cooked meals which I now have to do myself.

 

  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?

The first key aspect that lead to change in completing my STEP project is the relationships I have with my research supervisors, Jenn and Dr. Vodovotz. I appreciate all the help and guidance they have given me since the day they started allowing me to work in their lab. I have met with Dr. Vodovotz and spoken with Jenn numerous times about my struggle with my major choice and future pathway. They both believe I am a bright student and should stick with the major I currently am in now. They have shown me what labs look like outside of the typical chemistry or biology labs that we take for the science majors. After making my connections with them, I have realized that although I am confused about my current studies and what I want to pursue outside of my undergraduate career, what we learn in courses we are required to take for our majors is sometimes different and new to what we will learn on our own studies and work outside of undergrad.

 

The second key aspect is my work with the caliper that I’ve been using to measure all of the data we have collected for my study. I had never used or seen a caliper before. It is essentially a fancy ruler that measures data lines to several significant figures out. I have had to measure thousands of lines with this expensive instrument. It is a tedious and repetitive task; however, it has taught me the detail and organization that comes along with doing your own research project. In my science courses, I have had experience reading articles about different studies performed by different professors, students, and scientists. I always wondered how much work they had to do to create all the data tables and results section of their findings papers, and I now realize that it is not a task that can be completed without detail or time.

 

The last key aspect is the experience I have had while living on my own in the apartment. I have seen myself become more of an independent person with cleaning up after myself, budgeting for all the expenses I have, and understanding the value of everything in my life. Additionally, I am currently living in a two-person apartment for my senior year, so living in one for the month before helped me adjust quicker to the new environment when classes picked up immediately after moving in.

 

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? 

These changes that I have experienced during the time of my STEP project are significant to my growth as a student and how I think about the value of life. The research aspect has allowed me to see the inside of a lab not related to a course here at Ohio State. It is a completely different feel, and I like the independence that comes with doing my own research and not following a lab manual to do so. If I do chose to follow a graduate program related to the sciences, I will be performing more research, so this is a foot in the door for that experience. I have learned more about the importance of time management and detail when it comes to this project.

 

Living on my own has taught me more about responsibility as well. I have always been a responsible person, but I did not realize how much responsibility comes with living on your own. It will only help me when I graduate and possibly move to a different city, further than twenty minutes away from my hometown. This project has only begun, so I expect the transformations that I have already experienced to only grow and truly help me figure out what I would like to do with my undergraduate studies and how I want to use them to make myself a better person and contribute to the future.