Student Testimonials

“Polaris has been instrumental in giving me a feel of what research is going to be like. It has taught me how to do science communication in research. I feel more confident and prepared to do research now.” – Aditi Fulsundar


“Polaris was an incredible experience, specially for students like us who are pretty new to the world of physics. You learn a lot of stuff, some non-academic aspects of the physics community and also things like your own little research project, which is all great experience. But the best part for me was getting to know some of the senior, graduate students, and the advice you can get from them! Every single student new to the physics world would benefit from the class. ” – Arijit Das


“Polaris was an instrumental piece of my journey towards who I am today. I had initially chosen my major (physics and math) based on the subjects I happened to be good at in high school, so I had no idea what I wanted my future to be. URSA was the first time I was introduced to astronomy as a serious scientific endeavor, inspiring me to later declare astronomy as a major and pursue graduate school in the field. Preparing a poster of a mini research project increased my confidence, made me feel like a scientist, and demystified much of the research process. With the experience of completing a research project and presentation, I was much more prepared for later more serious research I would complete later in college. I also found the lessons during the program valuable in orienting me in college and building lifelong skills. I still remember learning how a three-person group is the perfect size since everyone can take turns being the leader and people tend to share work more fairly than in larger groups.

In addition to all the lessons I learned, I started friendships which I still have today and am incredibly grateful for. All of this was accomplished with an entirely virtual program during the first year of URSA, so I can only imagine how much more valuable this program has become with time and having moved in-person. All in all, Polaris helped me learn valuable lessons, build wonderful friendships, and develop a scientific identity from the very beginning of my college career.” – Daniel Boyea

“Before coming to OSU, I had many reservations about pursuing a physics/astronomy degree. Participating in URSA helped me to establish friendships, connections, and confidence in my major in a way that normal class doesn’t typically foster. I was able to join my first semester of classes with familiar faces and a safe network of people. Not only that, I became more comfortable going to graduate students and faculty with questions. As well as individual support, the graduate student facilitators provided campus resources to help navigate obstacles beyond the scope of traditional mentoring.  Academically, the Polaris program introduced me to research and got me interested in topics that would later be the subject of my REU projects. In addition to social and academic growth, Polaris taught me professional skills such as making a resume, cv, and personal statement. I used what I built in Polaris for successful scholarships and REU applications. Polaris/URSA promotes social awareness and provides a safe environment to learn about tough topics like the marginalization of certain groups and imposter syndrome. I am very grateful for my experience in both programs. The graduate students supported undergraduates in taking leadership roles and getting involved in any capacity they were interested in. Because of Polaris/URSA, I have been able to engage in my major in ways – like outreach and research–I never knew was possible in the first year. I continue to stay connected with the people I met in the programs and feel like I have a place in astronomy. :)” – Mary Rickel