My relationship with research

I am UIC

♪♫♪ My mind has vacancy but I have not received any letters of importance lately…

I haven’t mentioned my summer research with the College of Pharmacy for a while. That’s because back in August, right before final exams week, I quietly and cleanly wrapped up my work there. It was not an easy decision for me to make, but after thinking about it for a very long time and asking the advice of some confidantes and mentors, I decided that working in a chemistry lab was not something that I was particularly passionate about. Although I showed up every day motivated to work and fascinated by seeing organic chemistry in action, I found it wasn’t something I looked forward to.

Like someone told me, this could be because my role during the summer was naturally limited — there’s only so much I can do as an undergrad student who has yet to take biochemistry or finish the bulk of my science education.

To put it in perspective, it feels like I have barely scratched the surface of the broad biology and chemistry topics that I’ll have to learn in the coming years. And so, as I expected, there wasn’t much I could do in the lab other than learn lab techniques and assist.

And I believe that’s why I was more inclined to turn my interests elsewhere, at least for now. After I emailed the UICentre undergrad lab supervisor to submit my letter of notice, I immediately dived into looking for other opportunities — this time for something a little different. I found myself for the first time looking at psychology research, which is different in nature to the kind of lab work I’ve done in the past. After this summer ended, I have worked twice in chemistry/cell related labwork now, and I can’t say that I have found it as personally fulfilling as I liked, probably for the aforementioned reasons.

However, this summer I actually took PSYCH 242, which is Research Methods in Psychology. The more I read and learned about what takes place in psychology research, the more enthused I became by the kind of work that psychologists do. I also have several acquaintances — many in the Honors College — who have done research with the psychology professors here as well, and it’s fascinating to me that they have been able to work with actual participants when investigating their questions for research.

In addition, it seems that they have had the opportunity to frame the questions of their research to their interest, which I believe is one of the greatest opportunities. Doing research — especially at such a research-centered institution like UIC — seems very special to me because unlike absorbing material and accepted facts like we do in every other class, in research, students actually the chance to add to a subject’s knowledge base. When I think of the possibility of publications and building on what is known to the world about psychology, I find it incredible. Because of the work of students here, more information is now known about memory, linguistics, child psychology, etc, etc. It’s amazing what one person’s work can do.

And so, I immediately started applying. This meant sending emails to pretty much every professor I could find who might have open slots for students like me, and luckily I do think I have an advantage as an Honors College student and Neuroscience major with a good GPA. I’ve already heard back from more than one professor and I can’t wait to get settled into what I hope will become a long term research position now.

It might have taken me a little trial-and-error of different research jobs, but I’m glad I didn’t settle for something just to have something to do.  I’m finally doing the kind of research that I had my heart set on from the start, and I couldn’t be more enthused. Here’s hoping that it’ll last me for these next two years to come!

I swear I’d marry you tomorrow if this were as good as it could remain / Lick your lips, feast on my heart a little more baby ♪♫♪

(Better Run – Hotel Cinema)

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