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  • Inspiring Inquiry & Discovery Across All Disciplines.
  • Student Research Reflections: In their Own Words

    The OUR asked students to share their thoughts about participating in undergraduate research including what they learned, and how the experience has shaped their academic trajectory and future professional endeavors. Their inspirational reflections appear below.

    Kathrene Lo (Marine Biology)

    Research Project

    A comparison between the age, growth, and maturity of Graysby Grouper (Cephalopholis cruentata) and Coney Grouper (Cephalopholis fulva) off the southeast United States Atlantic coast

    Research Mentor

    Dr. Marcel Reichert, Dr. Walter Bubley, and Dr. Tracey Smart

    How has engaging in this undergraduate research experience has impacted your academic career?

    I participated in the Minorities in Marine and Environmental Sciences (MIMES) Internship Program at the Marine Resources Center in South Carolina. This experience, directed by the Marine Resources Division of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, showed me what research entails in a government job and how to find help and opportunities. I was challenged to put myself out there and interact with people to form connections that may be useful. By the end of the summer, I was convinced to continue majoring in marine biology. I was able to gain in depth knowledge ahead of students in my year from firsthand experience. The research experience for undergraduates (REU) program let me experience marine biology in a different part of the country.

    How has the OUR helped you to achieve your research goals?

    I was introduced to the world of research through the summer 2013 Undergraduate Research Experience. This was organized by the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR); the background gave me a better understanding of the research process and encouraged me to pursue research opportunities throughout my undergraduate years. Although I did not have a direct interaction with OUR afterwards, Dr. Dwain Pruitt was able to review my applications, resume, and write me recommendation letters for research experience for undergraduates (REU) programs even after he left the university. I also attended sessions provided by OUR from time to time. In the past semester, Ms. Lisa Piazza provided me guidance for the future. She encouraged me to write a curriculum vita and gave me tips. She has also made my presentation at the colloquium and Florida Undergraduate Research Conference possible and given me this opportunity to share my experiences with other undergraduates.

    How has participating in research impacted your future academic and/or professional goals?

    I know what to expect from a career in research and how research can vary. Depending on the concentration I choose to research in, I may require different backgrounds in skill ranging from diving to computer programs. I will continue to graduate school after taking a gap year to discover what I am interested in. Research requires a passion and patience to pursue something that may not work out. It has provided me with the social skills and confidence to put myself out there on the job market.

     

    Shane Clark (Cell & Molecular Biology)

    Research Project

    Natural Drug Discovery Research

    Research Mentor

    Dr. Bill Baker

    How has engaging in this undergraduate research experience has impacted your academic career?

    My time working in this research lab has been life changing. My lab trusted me as a freshman to take on my own projects and, by working alongside the members of my lab, I learned how to act independently and think critically about the problems I faced with my projects. All of these skills have been transferable to my time in the classroom and I believe that my lab knowledge helped me succeed in many of my chemistry classes.

    How has the OUR helped you to achieve your research goals?

    OUR is a resource that I wish I took more advantage of. I was lucky enough to meet my professor my freshman year and get into his lab. However, I wish I knew more about the etiquette to get into a lab beforehand and the responsibilities this entailed. I believe if I had known more about these topics beforehand I would have been able to transition into the lab more quickly and efficiently.

    How has participating in research impacted your future academic and/or professional goals?

    Even though I love being in the lab and it has put me on a great path to success. It also taught me that I wouldn’t be completely happy in a research lab for the rest of my life. I felt as though I was missing interacting with people. This led me to continue my pursuit of medicine in which I believe contains all of the critical thinking aspects of research that I love, along with the hands on application of helping people that I so desire.

     

    Natalie Bohin (Literary Studies/Dance)

    Research Project

    A History of the Tampa Bay Hotel: Preserving the Past and Place Construction Through Tourism. / Creating Satrapi: Dance as a Lens to Explore Cultural and Gender Roles of Women During the Iranian Revolution. / Connecting the Dots

    Research Mentor

    Laura Runge / Andee Scott / Michael Foley

    How has engaging in this undergraduate research experience has impacted your academic career?

    By participating in undergraduate research, I have been able to solidify what I hope to accomplish in the future. The process allowed me to realize that I would be best suited following my interdisciplinary interests rather than attempting to confine my research to one subject. These experiences also helped me realize my passion for research and a desire to become a professor in the future.

    How has the OUR helped you to achieve your research goals?

    The staff in the OUR office has always been readily available to help me in any aspect of my research. If the help I need is beyond their reach, they always point me in the right direction to have my question answered. I’ve even come into the office to see if Lisa Piazza is able to look over my CV and give me any recommendations. It wasn’t pertaining to my research, but she still made an effort to help me.

     

    Matthew Cuffaro (Philosophy/Mathematics)

    Research Project

    Relationships between Statistical Models for Quantifying Differences in the Conformational Ensembles of Biomolecules

    Research Mentor

    Dr. Varma

    How has engaging in this undergraduate research experience has impacted your academic career?

    Dr. Varma’s lab is my first; although this project was my own, the lab exposed me to academic and interdisciplinary collaborative research where members were trained in many different fields. This experience motivated me to pivot my mathematical interests into theoretical and computational biology.

    How has the OUR helped you to achieve your research goals?

    Dr. Pollenz and Ms. Piazza were very supportive in all of my submissions for the colloquium. I thank them very much.

    How has participating in research impacted your future academic and/or professional goals?

    I’ve used my research experience to become more disciplined and knowledgeable about the collaborative research process. I have a better “feel” for mathematical research careers now.

     

    Ayesha Farheen (Biomedical Sciences)

    Research Project

    Can exposure to various art forms of a cultural group change ethnocentric attitudes towards it?

    Research Mentor

    Andrea Assaf (Director) and Renee Hnagartner (Doctoral candidate USF Dept. of Psychology)

    How has engaging in this undergraduate research experience has impacted your academic career?

    The research experience made me appreciate scientific inquiry. As a student, I felt honored to present on an issue of ethnocentrism which is known to have caused problems within a peaceful society. I felt humbled contributing to this caused and receiving positive feedback. This satisfaction motivates me to continue research work. Through this, I was also able to decide on my career goals of becoming a physician who uses medicine to reduce ethnocentrism to create healthy minds and body.

    How has the OUR helped you to achieve your research goals?

    OUR helped me to get started in looking for research opportunities as a freshman. It is a great resource for students willing to start ahead in their undergraduate carrier.

    Ayesha has participated in the following OUR activities: Getting Started Workshop Series, Colloquium Preparation workshops, Volunteer for the Research and Arts Colloquium

     

    Bryan MacNeill (Animal Biology)

    Research Project

    Can variation in floral morphology predict Andean hummingbird community composition?

    Research Mentor

    Marc j Lajeunesse

    How has engaging in this undergraduate research experience has impacted your academic career?

    Being a part of undergraduate research shaped my experience as an undergraduate wholly. Being given the freedom and independence to explore what I found fascinating in my field of biology afforded me the opportunity to hone in on what I am interested in, and what I want to pursue post graduation.

    How has the OUR helped you to achieve your research goals?

    I could not have done what I have done without the OUR. They were so beneficial in providing me a grant that afforded me the opportunity to travel to The Andes in Peru to conduct my research, They were also helpful in looking over my proposal and providing insightful comments.

    How has participating in research impacted your future academic and/or professional goals?

    Participating in research has allowed me to hone in on what it is I am interested in studying post graduation. Being a part of undergraduate research has also given me a solid foundation and the experience to successfully transition to continue research at the graduate level.

    Bryan has participated in the following OUR activities: Volunteer for the Research and Arts Colloquium

     

    Lee Tan (Biomedical Science)

    Research Project

    The role of Atp8b1 in Hyperoxia-induced lung epithelial cell injury

    Research Mentor

    Jutaro Fukumoto

    How has the OUR helped you to achieve your research goals?

    OUR’s staff members have gone above and beyond to help me achieve my academic goal in research. Their kind, encouragement and supportive attitude helped me better understand which research position best fits me. I highly encourage all students, who are desire to step foot in research door, to visit OUR office and talk to any member of the OUR staffs.

    How has participating in research impacted your future academic and/or professional goals?

    As a research assistant, not only I get to do hands-on experiments and understand the scientific background behind every single experiment. The most important being in research is the opportunity to publish the scholarly articles which, to me, has impacted most in my academic career.

    Lee has participated in the following OUR activities: Getting Started Workshop Series

     

    Wendy Timirau (Public Health)

    Research Mentor

    Dr. Jerri Edwards

    How has the OUR helped you to achieve your research goals?

    The OUR staff is unique they worked with me every step of the way during my application process and finding a position that suited my interest. I would like to extend my gratitude to Lisa who went above and beyond each time I needed help, without her this could not have been possible.

    How has participating in research impacted your future academic and/or professional goals?

    I have been privileged to have had the opportunity to work with excellent mentors and each taught me different skills that I will be able to use in a near future. Participating in research was an eye opening experience because allowed me to see with a more clean vision what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

    Wendy has participated in the following OUR activities: Getting Started Workshop Series, Colloquium Preparation workshops

     

    Mark Noble (Cell and Molecular Biology)

    Research Project

    Chromosomal dynamics of heat shock genes in C. elegans through age

    Research Mentor

    Dr. Sandy Westerheide

    How has engaging in this undergraduate research experience has impacted your academic career?

    Dedicating time to the lab has impacted by life and career in numerous positive ways. I have learned important bench techniques that I will carry to graduate school; engaging in research discussion, lab meetings, and reviewing primary literature has expanded my reasoning and creative capabilities that will allow me to flourish in graduate school.

    How has the OUR helped you to achieve your research goals?

    Dr. Pollenz has offered insightful guidance for me and jump started my research career. The OUR has been extremely helpful in directing me to a research laboratory and facilitating networking between me and USF faculty.

    How has participating in research impacted your future academic and/or professional goals?

    Working with Dr. Westerheide has offered me incredible opportunities pursue my creative and scientific ambitions, to meet scientists at universities across the country, and to become a more well-rounded and experienced scientist.

    Mark has participated in the following OUR activities: Getting Started workshop series, OUR Student Orientation Volunteer

     

    Vyshakh Shibu (Biomedical Sciences)

    Research Project

    Stem cells in the treatment of acute myocardial infractions and cardiomyopathies

    Research Mentor

    Dr. Robert Henning

    How has engaging in this undergraduate research experience has impacted your academic career?

    Engaging in this research has been nothing but beneficial to my academic career. The research that we do crosses over well into many of my classes, in particular, biology related classes. The work in the lab along with classes such as Cell Biology compliment each other greatly and give me a deeper understanding about both the research and the material being studied.

    How has the OUR helped you to achieve your research goals?

    The OUR, in my opinion, is an invaluable source for helping students not only get into research positions but also teaching skills that will be needed in the future regardless of one’s career. One of the most important things that I learned was how to write an email. While it seems like a trivial thing, a lot of things go into an email that I had no idea mattered i.e tone of voice, spacing of paragraphs, subject lines etc.. Ms. Piazza helped me write my resume. The change was a complete 180 degrees from a bullet pointed list to an appropriate resume with titles and all of the relevant information. Dr. Pollenz even taught me how to dress up for interviews and how to determine whether the interview was semi-formal or formal. All of these tips added up and eventually landed me this great research position. The OUR is a gift that all USF students have the opportunity of using. Only by actively seeking help and using the resources given can one become successful in this competitive society. Were it not for the OUR’s help, I still wouldn’t even know how to define what research is.

    How has participating in research impacted your future academic and/or professional goals?

    The research I am involved in has only helped to deepen my interest in the medical field. My principle investigator Dr. Henning has helped to open my eyes to the massive impact that this research could have on the world. It has motivated me to continue getting good grades so that I can get into a good medical school. Being involved in research has helped me to become more organized and precise in the way I go about doing things such as studying, taking notes, or engaging in conversation.

    Vyshakh has participated in the following OUR activities: Getting Started workshop series

     

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