STEP Project Reflection
This summer I completed a STEP project in the category of Undergraduate Research. I participated in mathematics research under the guidance of Dr. Ghaith Hiary from the OSU Math Department. My project investigated a topic called the canonical height of points on a structure called an elliptic curve.
This project helped to change my view of myself and of the world of academia and research. My view of myself was transformed in the sense that I realized that math is the subject that I truly enjoy and want to pursue as a career, and I realized that I also enjoy doing research and the research process. As I worked on my project, I began to find that I was extremely interested in the subject I was learning and the project I was taking part in. I also noticed that I began to become more enthused about the prospect of finding new results and just the process of research in general.
Following on that sentiment, I also learned a lot simply about the process of research and the world of academia. I realized how much work professors put into their research to achieve meaningful and exciting results, and how much they enjoy their work. To do meaningful work you must greatly enjoy your subject and be willing to become fully engrossed in it. In doing that, your work becomes more exciting and interesting, which allows you to achieve better results.
The most important interaction that lead to my realizations were those with my project advisor, Dr. Ghaith Hiary. He helped me understand the steps needed to pursue a research project and gave me advice and guidelines on how to proceed when I hit a roadblock or found some new result. His enthusiasm to teach and to learn drove me to want to work harder and learn as much as I could about the subject area of my project topic.
An activity that helped my transformation was simply the research process that I was involved in. As I read books and articles on my project topic, I began to realize how much I enjoy the field I was working in. This reading and working also showed me that I enjoy the research process and the world of academia. Reading working level research articles gave me a new view and insight into the world of current math research and the work of modern math researchers.
The final aspect of my project that lead to my transformation was that I could work solely on my research, since I was not taking any summer classes. During the school year, I had to split my time between classes, work, and research, so my research project did not have the highest priority. But during the summer I could give my project highest priority, and because of that I was able to make significant progress. This progress helped fuel my aforementioned realizations and new insights.
This transformation that I have been discussing is perfect for my career aspirations, as I hope to attend graduate school to get a Ph.D. in mathematics, then become a math professor. A large part of the job of a professor is to publish current and relevant research, so learning about the research process and research in general was a great boon to me and my career aspirations.
With all of the changes and insights mentioned above, I hope that my experience this summer will help greatly in my future studies and career.