As a Research I institution The Ohio State University has the resources to recruit many talented students, researchers, and professors. OSU gives students like myself the opportunity to work with world class researchers, professors, and resources. This project allowed me to meet an upperclassmen, a graduate student, and a professor who gave me advice on how to be involved in scientific research, succeed in my classes, available resources, and more. Some of my classmates struggled to find people to interview, but fortunately I had already started networking within some STEM clubs before the project was assigned. The upperclassmen I interviewed was Ryan Gott, who is my assigned STEM EE Scholars mentor. The graduate student that I interviewed was Heather Glon, who is the co-advisor of the Current marine biology club which I am a member of. Finally, members of the Zoology club recommended some professors to interview, one of them being Dr. Peter Curtis, the Zoology Club advisor.
All three of my interviewees were chosen for specific reasons. I choose to interview my mentor, Ryan, for several reasons, including that he is a biology major like me. Therefore, he can provide me with advice to succeed in my classes. Additionally, Ryan is considering a career in medicine, which I am hoping to pursue as well, and can give me advice on what elective classes and extracurriculars to particpate in. Next, I chose to interview Heather for several reasons. One reason I interviewed Heather is that she is pursuing a Ph.D. in biology, which is another career path that I am considering. Also, Heather works in a lab with a professor whose research I am interested in. Finally, Dr. Curtis I chose to interview because he works in ecology, a subject that I am very enthusiastic about. He runs his own lab, so he could advise me on how to get involved in research. All three of my interviewees can help me to network with more people within my area of study.
When I interviewed Ryan, he provided me with a great deal of advice. He encouraged me to take advantage of the university’s many tutoring centers, advised to join campus science clubs, volunteer organizations, and volunteer at the Wexner Medical Center. He also suggested some study tips for the chemistry class I am taking next semester. This includes going to office hours, taking detailed notes, studying alone, and doing the practice exams. Ryan also suggested using research opportunities, not only to gain skills, but to also network with other professors and other students.
Heather had a great deal of suggestions for me as an undergraduate student. She suggested that when I am trying to network with professors, that I go to their office hours, look to see if they have open lab assistant positions, and have a genuine interest in their research. She also suggested that I take research work that I am not only interested in, but will also provide me with valuable skills that will help me to secure future lab positions. When I asked her when the best time is to start researching, she suggested that it’s never too soon to start. The sooner you do it, the more skills you can build and the more people you can network with. She also stressed the importance of not only having good grades when applying to graduate school, but also research experience and extracurricular activities. In addition, she suggested that I try many different areas of biology, so I can learn what I like and do not like, before applying to graduate programs.
Before meeting Dr. Curtis, I read two of his scholarly articles. The first one was “Harvest impacts on soil carbon storage in temperate forests” and the second was “Controls on Annual Forest Carbon Storage: Lessons from the Past and Predictions for the Future”. These articles talk about carbon storage in soil which is an important component of the carbon cycle. The first article addresses the effects of logging on forest carbon storage. The second article talks about the past trend in carbon storage and predicts future trends. I have had some experience reading scholarly articles, so reading these articles was not too difficult. One of the things I did struggle with was not knowing some of the concepts and jargon for the specific biology field that was used in these articles.
When I finally met Dr. Curtis, he had a lot of great advice for how to get involved in research and how to be professional. He suggested several ways for me to find research opportunities like applying to the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates programs, applying for individual research grants, interning with the National Ecological Observatory Network, and networking with professors. He also recommended that I join OSU’s Ecologic Restoration and Education Club since I am interested in ecology. Dr. Curtis also gave me some tips on how to be more professional. He told me there are some key things to being professional like being organized, having a well written resume, and be respectful of your peers and professors. He also gave me a few tips on how to succeed in class, Including: taking paper notes because computers can be a distraction, sit in the front rows, and email the professor if you are going to miss a class so you can make sure to catch up on missed information.
At the beginning of this project, I didn’t understand why we were doing this, but now that I have completed the assignment, the purpose is much clearer. This project allowed me to network with people I may not have spoken to before, and educated me on the resources and places to look for research experience. I feel like completing this has been very beneficial and will help me in my time here at The Ohio State University.