Have you been thinking about getting involved in undergraduate research? Or would you like to dive deeper into the topic you’re majoring in? Research offers undergraduate students a chance to expand their knowledge while gaining valuable real world experience in a laboratory research setting. Hands-on-experience is an invaluable part of a student’s college career, and Oregon State University is both a top-tier national research institution and Oregon’s premiere research university. The professors here truly cherish their research. They’re passionate and dedicated to their topics, and they look for students with an equal interest. As a result, they have strict criteria when it comes to selecting students for work in their labs. I spoke with one professor who stated, “my research is like my children, I greatly cherish them.” It is not easy to get in a lab, and many students believe they have to wait until their junior or senior year of college to get involved in one, but this simply isn’t true. Take time to review the research being done by the professors in your department, and if you’re passionate and focused about a specific topic, you may find professors here in the same thing! If you’re still looking around and you aren’t sure about where you want to focus your interest, then look into the research professors are working on and you’re certain to find something that piques your interest. I strongly recommend talking to your professors sometime during your freshman year to at least get a feel for what goes on in the labs.
It takes a lot of work to get involved in a lab, but in the end the experience you gain is definitely worth it. I am currently involved in a lab here on campus, and it feels like a second family to me. They provide a place where students with shared interests can work to discover new things about life. They show you the practical side of the field, and they help apply what you learn in your classes. It can also show you what life is like in graduate programs and in the working world. Regardless of what you’re majoring in, please go and talk with a professor in your field about their research and if inspiration strikes, find out how you can try to get involved. All majors conduct research and professors love to share their work with other dedicated students. Not only will research provide you the opportunity to share your interests with others, it will also help shape your college experience. For many students, our time in college is the only time we’ll be exposed to academic research opportunities. Learning involves more than just going to class everyday and passing exams. Research experience plays a critical role in helping to develop our understanding of the world around us.