Presentation on theme: "Academic Year Undergraduate Research"— Presentation transcript:
1 Academic Year Undergraduate Research Connor Rosen – Sophomore, ChemistryPrastuti Singh – Junior, PhysicsCandace Rypisi – Office of Student-Faculty ProgramsJohn Dabiri – Professor of Aeronautics and BioengineeringHarry Gray – Professor of ChemistryThomas Tombrello – Professor of Physics
2 Why research?The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.
4 Are we succeeding?Student survey: 90% of students enter Caltech interested in research 58% did research before coming to Caltech 50% do academic-year research at Caltech (excluding freshmen) Why is the percentage of students doing research lower?
5 Why don’t students do research? Top reasons for not doing academic-year research:#1 – No time – 72%#2 – Inability to find a research group – 29%#3 – No interest in academic-year research – 17%Top reasons for not doing summer research:#1 – Industrial internships – 43%#2 – Off-campus research at other universities – 29%#3 – Tried but unable to get a SURF (rejected, no response from profs, etc) – 16%
6 “I have no time to do research” You can make time for research if you prioritize it. Once students are involved in research, they tend to stay involved. What we need: a mentality shift to emphasize research
7 Getting students involved Our #1 priority should be to get students involved in research early on Reminder: Nearly 60% of students did research before coming here Why shouldn’t they be able to continue as freshmen?
8 What is effective?• Pizza courses • SURF Announcements of Opportunity • Upperclassmen recommendations • Advisor / faculty recommendations
9 Pizza coursesPizza course model: Ch10abc Lunch seminars, lab tours after each presentation Particular benefits: Lab tours allow students to see what doing that particular research would be like on a day-to-day basis Description of expectations for courses, knowledge needed allows students to plan ahead and prepare for research Ch10c: Research course for credit – fulfills advanced lab requirement in Chemistry major, also includes discussion component
10 Pizza coursesKey components of a successful pizza course: • Presentations should be interesting and geared towards freshmen • Students should be able to understand what the process of doing research in the field is like • Students should be made aware of requirements to succeed in the field so they can better prepare
11 Faculty / advisor recommendations Faculty have a broad base of knowledge about research at Caltech and may know particular details about work that isn’t public Freshmen advisors in particular can push freshmen to explore research opportunities early on (1st, 2nd term) before SURFs
12 Faculty / advisor recommendations Ways freshman advisors can help: • Point out research for work-study option (>50% of students on work study, <10% of students do research for work study) • Help freshmen find research • Help freshmen learn to do research while also taking courses – this can be a difficult balancing act
13 Faculty / advisor recommendations One major recommendation faculty can make: explain importance of research in future career plans Research is a key component of admission to grad school Long-term research can result in better letters or even publications – both of which are tremendous additions to a CV
14 Faculty / advisor recommendations SURF mentors: discuss continuation of SURFs into coming academic year Many students do summer research – why not continue? Often students will SURF in preparation for a senior thesis – but imagine 3 years of research in the same lab as preparation
15 SURF AOsDetailed SURF AOs can help students see what is needed for a project When AOs are listed well in advance, students can prepare for or even begin research before the summer For students: begin looking for a SURF early!
16 SURF AOsExploration of research outside primary field, interdisciplinary research – see JPL opportunities Students, particularly freshmen, should be willing to take risks and explore early on to learn what they like You never know until you try!
17 UpperclassmenUpperclassmen can share their experiences, recruit freshmen to their labs Encourage freshmen to look early for a SURF You’ve been to seminars, taken classes, heard professors talk – you can say who is doing interesting and exciting work, and what helped you prepare to do work in that field
18 Seminars / ColloquiaThese are frequent presentations throughout the year from people all over the country and world These can help students be a part of the broader world of science outside Caltech – and find off-campus SURFs! Professors – encourage students to attend seminars – particularly when the speaker is someone excellent or renowned Upperclassmen – if you go to a seminar, encourage freshmen to come along and see
19 Mentality – in summaryUpperclassmen and professor can both play a major role in helping freshmen find research and get involved early If you are involved in research, you will make time to stay involved Being involved with science and research can mean more than just lab work – read journals, go to seminars and group meetings, talk to grad students
20 Short term recommendations • Improve pizza courses to help students understand what actually doing research is like • Freshmen advisors – push students towards research and help them find and balance research • Improve SURF AOs, get students started looking earlier (upperclassmen and professors can do this) • SURF mentors – discuss continuation of SURF into academic year (and students, you can bring this up too)
21 Long term proposalGive students a common set of skills for research 60% of students come in with a research background – yet they, and others without that background, can still benefit from learning to think critically about research No reason that we can’t give those students who haven’t been exposed to research before Caltech all the tools they need to match those who have Improve student confidence in looking for research, help them “hit the ground running” once they do find a position
22 Common skills in research • Ability to read papers and gather important points • Ability to find papers on a given subject • Ability to analyze and critique data • Ability to think about problems that aren’t in textbooks or already solved (think Ph11 hurdles) • Ability to summarize results and present them All things SURF tries to teach – but in a 10 week period also full of research!
23 “Prep for research” course goals Read papers – deconstruct them and connect figures with text, restate the abstract, discuss future work and implications Attend seminars – see how practicing scientists communicate, summarize and restate Investigate novel problems – discuss methods for examining hypotheses that might be “out there” with no clear experimental path forward – Ph11-esque problems
24 Freshmen seminarsSmall (<15 students) courses for freshmen in area of faculty member’s choice Include novel research as a component of the course – discuss new changes to the field, look at experiments being done, read contemporary literature Push the boundaries of what is normally taught in lecture – ask open-ended, “what if” questions
25 Other possibilitiesImplement a new course – perhaps under the freshman seminar banner, perhaps independently – focusing on understanding work in an unfamiliar field Have a journal club for students – upperclassmen can help lead What else?
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