MSRE Week 5: The Halfway Mark
We’ve reached the downhill slope of MSRE, but things are beginning to pick up the pace in our scholars’ projects. During the past two weeks (Week 4 and Week 5), scholars presented progress updates on their research, learned about how to craft the perfect personal statement, discussed how to present research through conference-style posters, and were asked to submit drafts of their abstract, introduction, and methodology sections.
In this week’s set of interviews, we’ve spoken with Brittany Jones and Christian Padilla. Brittany is examining the effect of emancipation on public opinion in Washington D.C. during the Civil War. Christian is examining the Peaucellier straight-line linkage to generate an exact straight line and changes in output paths.
UNL McNair: So far, what have you learned about conducting a full-scale research project?
Brittany: Conducting research of your own, or just a part of larger project, takes a lot of dedication and perseverance. What I’ve learned by doing my project on compensated emancipation in Washington DC is that my professor/mentor draws from the same pool of knowledge that I do. I’ve become a little more knowledgeable for this particular subtopic because it’s what I’m researching. When I ask a question, my mentor often tells me that the majority of the information he knows comes from my work. It takes a lot of initiative when you’re in a situation like that because you have to find the answers to your own questions.
Christian: Conducting a full scale research project sounds intimidating when you say it out loud but with all the help I received, from my mentor and the McNair staff, it was all very do-able. Research doesn’t have to be daunting; it can be fun. Just remember to ask questions and to keep in communication with everyone involved.
UNL McNair: How do you feel your research has been going? Are you enjoying the experience?
Brittany: It’s been going great. The reading takes a lot more time than I previously thought it would. And even as I’m going along, I’m developing new queries based on what I’ve found. I enjoy building this pool of knowledge and realizing how much I already knew (that just needed to be refreshed). It’s like a job, building all of the knowledge necessary to write and conduct the research. But it’s great when you realize how much you do know. Then it’s just the organization that’s a pain.
Christian: So far, I feel like my research has been going very well. I like all the students and faculty that the program has put me in contact with, and I’ve been learning a lot about my discipline. On top of that, the summer has been very productive. I’ve learned how much can be accomplished if you work at it each day. It has been a very enjoyable experience and I hope that others enjoy the program as much as I have.
UNL McNair: Has there been anything about MSRE that was unexpected?
Brittany: The writing, I expected the writing to take a much longer time. It’ll take a huge chunk of my time, and sometimes I can’t seem to be able to articulate my findings and thoughts. At other times the writing comes really easy, and I can write pages without even noticing it. At times I feel I’ll never reach the page mark, and others I worry that I won’t be able to condense enough of it to fit.
Christian: Research-wise, I have been kept in the loop about everything without any big surprises. If I had to choose, though, I would say that it surprised me to see how close knit my lab group is. Each member of the group has their own interesting personality but they work incredibly well together, teaching and learning from each other. I wasn’t prepared to stumble on such an interesting group of friends during this program.
Thank you both for your insightful discussion on the McNair Summer Research Experience. We look forward to continued successes in your projects! Keep up the good work!