Advice for Future Students
Cyrus Haas (ChBe'22)
Minor in Business, Engineering Honors Program, Global Engineering Residential Academic Program
My advice to future students interested in a successful undergraduate career in research is threefold: (1) seek out opportunities to start research freshman year, (2) persevere through research challenges, and (3) remember to take time for yourself. My first point addresses the fact that becoming comfortable and proficient with research has a steep and long learning curve. It has taken myself a very long time to understand my mentor’s research to a level that is necessary for making real scientific contributions. Second, the biggest lesson I have learned is that research consists more of failures than success. It is imperative to persevere through these challenges. Finding alternatives or working with mentors to determine new approaches is often necessary. Finally, I believe that taking time away from the research can be extremely beneficial, whether it be for a short time for a quick work-out or even a couple of days to think about other things and approach the research with new energy after taking time away. These three pieces of advice are what have helped me most as an undergraduate and can hopefully help others interested in research as they begin their undergraduate careers at CU.
Joelle Westcott (CivEngr'22)
My first piece of advice is always apply and take a chance, it never hurts to try. I was originally hired at the Center for Infrastructure, Energy, and Space Testing (CIEST) lab, despite being such a young student, because I knew about photography. It turned out my understanding of photography translated to Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) research where a high-speed camera tracks the movement of the sand particles and can result is displacement diagrams.
My next piece of advice is to be curious. I love asking questions and understanding the reasons behind various phenomena. The last piece of advice I have is to be a self-advocate. This means expressing the things you are interested in or asking to be part of a new project, my philosophy is it never hurts to ask, the worst that could happen is someone might tell you no.
Jackson Peoples (ChBe'22)
Physics Minor, Engineering Honors Program, Outstanding Junior Award Recipient, Donald F. Othmer Sophomore Academic Excellence Award Recipient
For undergraduates who are looking to get into research during their time here at CU Boulder, I would advise them to take the opportunity if they are ready for the commitment that it necessitates in order for it to be an enriching experience alongside the usual undergraduate curriculum. If they are ready for this commitment and can find a group that makes them feel welcome, research can be one of the best and most fulfilling components of their college experience, as it was for mine.
I learned that I have immense drive and that once I apply myself to something, I will not quit, no matter how challenging it is. This has allowed me to persevere through some of the most difficult problems I have faced in my undergraduate experience. I found it essential to not be afraid to ask others for help, which is a tough, but humbling, learned skill.
Julia Bendorf (ChBe'22)
Biomedical Engineering Minor, Neuroscience Certificate
My two pieces of advice for any future student who has a passion for scientific research: get into a lab as soon as possible in your undergraduate career and then expect to fail and have doubts throughout the process. On my first piece of advice, not only with this allow for you to figure out what sorts of research you do and do not like, but it will also allow for you to grow alongside your project(s) as you start to discover what it really means to be a researcher. On my second piece of advice, though scientific research is exciting, it is hard. Experiments will inevitably fail, and you will have to return to the drawing board again and again. Myself and many other undergraduate researchers who I have spoken to have dealt with painful imposter syndrome and the question of if we really have what it takes to pursue research. So, I will end this statement with a message to any future student who is excited and willing to put in the work to perform good scientific research: you are enough, and you can do it.