Co-authored by summer interns Naziba Nuha and Tanha Rahman
In this Q&A-type blog, summer interns Naziba Nuha and Tanha Rahman share their thoughts about being summer interns in a research lab, how to identify such opportunities, and the mindset to employ during summer research interships.
How can I find research experience?
Great question! This is actually the most difficult part of the research process and it takes a lot of effort. However, the key is to constantly seek out every opportunity that you can find. Be proactive in your search. Try to communicate with professors regarding research opportunities that you might want to explore more in depth. Google search summer research programs since there are tons of summer research opportunities across the United States. If you are worried about travel expenses for those programs many often provide stipends for housing or conducting the research. Seek out connections who are already involved in research and communicate with them in order to find a research opportunity that specifically interests you. Try to attend career fairs, research roundtables and undergraduate symposiums that are organized every year.
I don’t have a science background or I have only taken introductory science classes. Can I still do scientific research?
It does not matter how many classes you have taken or whether you were ever a science major at all. There are research opportunities available for people of all ages, majors, and backgrounds. Even if you are an undecided freshmen, as long as you show genuine interest in the research opportunity you are seeking out, there will always be people who will accept you without expecting you to have crazy knowledge about biology, chemistry, physics, etc. There are programs available for high school students, undergraduates, master’s students, PhD students, and people enrolled in professional schools in medical school. Here at RIPLRT, we had a PhD student working on understanding our research methodologies and applying it to her thesis project from the University of Puerto Rico. We are summer interns from undergrad working alongside Masters students and students in doing their gap year. We come from a variety of backgrounds from fields like art, business, math, public health, and biology. So, it really does not matter!
How can I make the most of my research experience?
Be honest about your goals and interests. If you have reached out to an opportunity and feel that you are not interested in the field or theme that the research professor, group, or program revolves around, find something else that does fascinate you. Being passionate about what you are researching will help you stay motivated. Another important thing is to openly communicate with your research mentor and team mates. These people are there to help you. If you would like to do more of something, whether that is experimentation or reading up on case studies to better understand a topic, be open to discussing it with people you are doing research with. One advice we were given in RIPLRT was to create a list of goals/skills we hope to achieve and by the time we are done with our research, we could look back at them and reflect on how much we have developed since we first began.
Is research really worth it?
From my individual point of view, the advantages of research extend beyond having an impressive degree certificate. For a biology major for instance, conducting research in areas such as immunology or the cardiovascular system broadens perception and provides students with more hands on experience on the topics that they have only been lectured on so far. Through detailed research, students develop critical thinking expertise, as well as effective analytical, research, and communication skills that are globally sought-after and incredibly beneficial.
Summer intern Naziba Nuha is undergraduate student (sophmore) enrolled in the B.S. in Biology and Mathematics with minor in Chemistry at Nova Southeastern University (NSU). Currently Naziba works as a physician assistant scribe at Memorial Regional Hospital Emergency Department where she is responsible for filling out and maintaining patient charts and managing the physician’s workflow as they see patients. In the Winter semester Naziba also held a role as Supplemental Instruction Leader at NSU through which she facilitated collaborative learning sessions in support of student academic courses in courses such as Biology and Organic Chemistry. She is also a Physician Assistant Scribe.
Summer intern Tanha Rahman is an undergraduate (third-year) student at Nova Southeastern University. She is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Biology (pre-medicine track) with a minor in International Studies. As a passionate advocate for public health, she has worked extensively in her local community and in Washington to shape public policy in support for infectious diseases epidemics around the globe and the healthcare rights of US immigrants. Her experience with public health extends to her work in fundraising for global health initiatives as the Project Director for Agents of Charity at International Health Initiatives.