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Getting started with research

If you are interested in a full version of the persentations with the script (as available), please reach email ess@unm.edu with the request.
  • See the YouTube video from our "How to Get Into a Research Lab" presentation HERE.
  • Lab safety matters!- This 3 part series prepares you for lab work, or make you a more valuable lab mate. Provided by UNM's Environmental Health & Safety department. 
    • Part 1: Hazard Communication & Hazardous Waste Management (PDF)
    • Part 2: Hierarchy of Controls & Basics of PPE (PDF)
    • Part 3: Hazard Evaluation and Heuristics (PDF)
  • Make the opportunity for yourself: How to find a Research Mentor
  • Interesting research:  Hayat recognized for paper that made the imaging world rethink
  • Also keep in mind:
    • Critical thinking is imperative!
      •  In a complex argument, both sides might have some truth to them, but one side might actually make a stronger valid argument. Focus on identifying why.
    • Know how to find/evaluate the source of your information
    • Be open to constructive feedback (see the ESS Presentation on Good vs Bad presentations in the accordion below for more info on this topic).
  • There are many aspects of research, being involved with ANY of them can be valuable. These include, but are not limited to:
    • Supportive tasks
    • Foundational information
    • Collecting information
      • Theoretical vs Experimental
      • Develop knowledge vs designing something for practical use
    • Inception of unique research questions
      • Basic
      • Applied
    • Writing/Reporting findings
  • The various levels of engagement all include aspects of:
    • Ethical Awareness
    • Gathering background (from Cliff Notes to credible journal articles)
    • Evidence preparation (provide, research, develop)
    • Communication/collaboration
    • Real world research practice
    • Freedom to discover
    • Failure and iteration
    • Outcome novelty (are there other disciplinary researchers interested? where can the research go from here?)
The STEM Collaborative Center has compiled words of wisdom from those who have gone before you. Here are the tips and strategies from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) majors from a panel of Graduate and Upper Level Undergraduate students at UNM.  Additionally, read about the advice from our mentors who are STEM Professionals and Peer-Mentors on our Mentoring page

 

What is research, exactly?

  • At the undergraduate level, research is a self-directed work under the guidance and supervision of a mentor or advisor usually associated with the university that you attend. A gradual transition towards independence is encouraged as a student gains confidence and is able to work with minor supervision. Students normally participate in an ongoing research project and investigate phenomena of interest to them and their advisor. There are many benefits to undergraduate research but a few of the most important are:
    • Learning and application of classroom information in a real world setting!
    • The excitement of discovery.
    • Preparing for graduate school or a post-graduate job within your field of study
  • How do I get involved? In your entry-level science courses, you will often perform experiments where the results are already know. These experiments are essential to your understanding and academic growth. But, if you get involved in undergraduate research opportunities, you can take this a step further by creating and conducting research where no one knows what will happen! This is the exciting part of science… discover and create something new! This is how science changes the world for the better every day! There are several key ways to get involved in undergraduate research.
    • Undergraduate research programs. Some of those around campus include, but are not limited to:
    • Meet with a department advisor.
    • Learn about what YOU are interested in.
    • Talk to your professors in classes you enjoy. This is crucial. Faculty members sometimes hire undergraduate students in their labs to help with their research. From these experiences, you will get to know professors, graduate students, and other undergraduate students, and you will learn key research concepts. Undergraduate research looks GREAT on your resume when you graduate and apply for jobs or graduate school.
      • Find a research mentor (see the "Get started with Research" accordion above)
      • Set up a time to meet with a potential mentor (office hours, before/after class) and ask them the following questions:
        • Tell them about what you read about them and their research.
        • If you don’t already know the answer to this, ask if they conduct research at UNM?
        • Ask them to tell you more about their research.
        • Do they hire undergraduate students in their lab?
        • If they don’t have the money to hire a student, ask them if you can volunteer a few hours each week.
    • Check out UNM Research Match: http://research-match.unm.edu/
    • Check UNM Jobs for student hires.
    • Be persistent and be willing to volunteer if you can’t get a paid gig.