Undergraduate Research hosts workshops throughout spring semester

Undergraduates from all majors are welcome.

The Office of Undergraduate Research is hosting educational online workshops throughout the spring semester for MU undergraduates.

Undergraduate Research offers both broad workshops that teach the basics of ethics and research conduct, as well as focused workshops that teach how to write a personal statement or how to plan a presentation.

Students that complete five or more workshops receive the S.T.A.R program sticker and recognition in the Spring Forum Abstract book. The student’s school or college will also be notified of their achievement. The S.T.A.R accolade is perfect to put on a student’s CV, senior Meghan Lawlor, an ambassador for the Office of Undergraduate Research, said.

“The goal is that it’s something they can put on their resumes or LinkedIn, or when they are reaching out to mentors or professors to work with for research,” Lawlor said. “It’s something they can include in their email to show that they know what they are getting into.”

In addition to educational benefits, Lawlor said the workshops provide networking opportunities for students looking to join MU research teams.

“I found that getting involved in research from my freshman year on has been such a beneficial part of my college career,” Lawlor said. “It helped me form so many connections on campus and even opened up so many opportunities outside of campus.”

Sophomore biochemistry major Alex Vanover got his start at the Office of Undergraduate Research through the Freshman Research in Plant Sciences program. Vanover now works as an ambassador for Undergraduate Research.

“Some of the research experiences you get would usually be just for graduate students, so it’s really a unique opportunity doing research as an undergraduate that you can’t get anywhere else,” Vanover said.

Vanover works in a new lab at the Molecular Imaging and Theranostics Center, developing a radio-labeled antibody to help discover cancer in the human body.

“The things that you learn in an undergraduate research setting are completely different from what you would experience in a class teaching lab or in any of your other classes,” Vanover said. “It really prepares you for the future, for the real world, and it’s great to be a part of a lab setting.”

As an ambassador, Vanover helps other students find the right research program, lab or mentor to suit their field of study. He hosts peer advising sessions and creates research profiles for different labs at MU. The profiles “demystify research for undergraduates and help break down the initial barrier between interested undergraduates and potential labs,” according to the Undergraduate Research website.

“One issue we encounter is actually getting people to follow through with their research goals — making the connection between just being generally interested — to actually being able to know which professors to talk to, know what the lab experience is, and what their field would be,” Vanover said.

Undergraduate Research peer advising sessions serve as a place for students to ask questions about research taking place at MU in their field of study or interest. Students can log into the virtual meeting to ask an ambassador general research questions or receive advice on various research programs at MU.

“The people at the office [of Undergraduate Research], they’re amazing,” Vanover said. “They know so much about it, but sometimes you really want to get that student experience with someone who has been there and is there currently, to get their help.”

The next peer advising session is scheduled to take place Feb. 24.

Jeffrey Pollmann, a secondary education and English major, attended the Responsible Conduct of Research 1: Ethics, Misconduct & Trust workshop on Feb. 15. The workshop was able to provide foundational skills for Pollmann to draw from during his research.

“I’ve thought about clinical research before, but I’ve never gotten to the why, the how,” Pollmann said. “It was good to get the tools from the workshop in order to talk about those things more clearly.”

Pollmann, who is in the College of Education Honors Program, is conducting research with a faculty member and a group of peers on the long-term effects of the opportunity gap in the education system. Before he graduates, Pollmann is planning to conduct a linguistic study for his thesis.

“I definitely want the tools to be able to conduct research on [my thesis], and not just have a theoretical paper but actually have an experimental aspect,” Pollmann said. “That's the reason why I really want to attend more of these workshops.”

Senior psychology major Emily Pestka also participated in the workshop. Pestka is currently enrolled in a course conducting a research project. She is utilizing the S.T.A.R. program in order to help with her research.

“It’s free, and education is expensive, so whenever I can jump on something that doesn’t cost money, I usually try to,” Pestka said. “I thought I could definitely get something out of it and take advantage of the resources while here at Mizzou.”

For more information on future workshops, peer advising sessions, the S.T.A.R program and more, check out the Undergraduate Research website.

Edited by Sophie Chappell | schappell@themaneater.com

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