MSRE Week 6: Nearing the End

Continuing on in these final weeks of MSRE, the scholars heard from Dr. Rick Lombardo on the intricacies of a formal presentation. Scholars will develop their presentations for the California McNair Conference at Berkeley, with input from their faculty and graduate mentors, and final edits from McNair staff.

To provide some perspective on the MSRE experience, we turn to Alyssa Lundahl and Reinaldo Alcalde. Alyssa’s project conducts a psychometric evaluation of the Behavioral Observation of Preschoolers System (BOPS). Rei’s project examines the amount of water flow and discharge through a combined weir and sluice gate model.

 

UNL McNair: So far, what have you learned about conducting a full-scale research project?

Alyssa: The most important thing I’ve learned so far while conducting a full-scale research project is to expect the unexpected and to handle setbacks in an optimistic manner. I started my research this summer with the expectation that all would go as planned. However, after three weeks into the summer research experience, I completely changed my project. For my new project, I made the same database four different times and ran the same analyses more than I’d ever expected I’d need to. However, each time I redo a step of the process, I learn something new and grow as a scholar. Overall, I’ve learned that a full-scale research project requires a lot of time and dedication, but the gratification that comes from seeing your research project develop is well worth the hard work.

Rei Throwing Particles into Model

Rei: Throughout the summer, I’ve learned many things about conducting research. First and foremost, I’ve learned that if something can go wrong, it most likely will go wrong. Lab research can sometimes be extremely tedious, but it’s also very rewarding. When there’s a problem in the lab, it’s up to us to find a way to fix it. This might not sound fun, but it’s probably been the most exciting aspect of this research experience. Having to problem-solve and expect the unexpected has created many challenges for me, but at the same time has improved my skills as a researcher immensely.

 

UNL McNair: How do you feel your research has been going? Are you enjoying the experience?

Alyssa: With the support of Dr. David Hansen, Chris Campbell, Tiffany West, and the McNair Scholars staff, I feel as though my research this summer has progressed very well, despite a few road bumps along the way. I’ve learned a considerable amount of information this summer, not only in the realm of research, but also in terms of graduate school preparation, effective presentation skills, and writing. Not only have I enjoyed conducting my own research project, but it’s been great hearing about the research being conducted by scholars from other disciplines in the McNair Summer Research Experience.

Rei: As of now, research has been going very well for me. I’ve been able to expand my knowledge in the field of Civil Engineering, more specifically in Water Resources, which is my main summer goal. I’ve not only enjoyed the actual experience of conducting lab research, but also the colleagues I’ve met during the process. The graduate students and professors whom I’ve met and developed relationships with have given me invaluable information and resources, all of which will be very helpful for entering and attending a graduate program.

 

UNL McNair: Has there been anything about MSRE that was unexpected?

Alyssa Enters Data into SPSS

Alyssa: Having spent almost three years conducting research in labs on campus, I didn’t expect that there would be a considerable amount of information regarding the research process that I hadn’t already experienced. However, I’ve learned more this summer than I have in the past three years, and each day presents a new and exciting challenge. This is precisely the reason why graduate school and a future conducting research are attractive to me: each day is unpredictable and challenging, yet rewarding and worthwhile.

Rei: Other than the unpredictability that working in the lab brings me, what I found most surprising was the fact that my mentor is especially excited about continuing this research through the fall semester. By doing this, we’ll be able to have complete results and the ability to publish in a journal. As an undergraduate, having an article published in an Engineering journal is extremely exciting and something I didn’t expect at all when coming into the MSRE.

 

Thank you both for taking time out of your busy schedules to provide your insight! We look forward to seeing the finished products and your presentations at UC: Berkeley.

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