MSRE Week 3: Research Underway

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Brooke Micek

The 2012 McNair Summer Research Experience is in full-force as the Junior Scholars begin their third week of the intensive research program. The Scholars have already completed the literature review and introduction sections of their research papers, and engaged in a peer-review session in which they gave constructive feedback on each other’s work. In the following days, the Scholar’s will continue drafting their papers, studying for the GRE, and learning how to craft a one-of-a-kind personal statement.

We checked in with three of this year’s Scholars to see how their projects are going thus far. Ross Benes, a Psychology major working under the mentorship of Dr. P.D. Harms, is researching the effectiveness of workers at different levels of the job hierarchy through the lens of the personality trait theory. Maggie Gossard, another Psychology major, is examining the obesity stigma in the workplace under the guidance of Dr. Sarah Gervais, while Brooke Micek, a Biological Systems Engineering major, is researching enzymes that control oxidative stress in prostate cancer cells with Dr. Melanie Simpson.

What have you learned about conducting a full-scale research project so far?

Ross Benes: There are many revisions. First drafts don’t cut it. Also, it’s important to organize the layout of your paper for the reader. Proper formatting is important for keeping your reader focused on your writing.

Maggie Gossard: I’ve learned that it takes a lot of planning and careful analysis. It’s not enough to simply have a research question; it takes a lot of hard work to figure out how to measure everything, who to sample, etc. It’s a big undertaking.

Brooke Micek: Writing down every detail is a major contribution. Repetition is extremely important in research and without each detail being written to know how each step was done, then repetition becomes difficult to accomplish.

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Ross Benes

Ross Benes: The research has been going fine. There’s still a lot to be done though. I enjoy the independence the most. Being able to make my own schedule and approach problems how I see fit has been the most positive part of the research process thus far.

Maggie Gossard: I feel like my research has been going really well. What I enjoy most about the process is being able to explore topics that I’m interested in and feeling like I can contribute to a bigger academic discussion.

Brooke Micek: Research has been going pretty well. I love learning new techniques for different experiments.

How has MSRE helped you in terms of your research project and/or graduate school preparation? Have you come across anything unexpected?

Ross Benes: It’s helped me realize how difficult the verbal section of the GRE is, and that I need to learn many new words to increase my score. It’s also taught me that everything is a process – there are no quick fixes. I haven’t come across anything unexpected so far.

Maggie Gossard: I think MSRE has really helped me stay organized and focused. With so much going on at once, it’s important to prioritize things and pay close attention to deadlines.

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Maggie Gossard and Graduate Student Jill Allen

Brooke Micek: MSRE has been a great help in preparing me for how much work needs to be done. Because many of the deadlines are ahead of when most things need to be done, the bulk of the work is already written out, and any extra details that need to be typed out can be added. This makes writing the papers a lot easier.

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