Back to the Classroom: How to Readjust to In-Person Exams

With midterms being in full swing this week, you’ve most likely started reviewing concepts and studying for these exams. However, another crucial part of the preparation process is to readjust to the in-person exam experience. After a year and a half of taking exams virtually, it is important to recognize that exams in the classroom will look and feel very different, so don’t let that take you by surprise. Whether you are studying for midterms or want to start thinking about final exams, here are a few key tips when it comes to taking exams at Princeton in person:

McDonnell A01, a large lecture hall where one of my midterms is taking place this semester
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It’s Midterm Season: 6 Tips for Success on Midterms

East Pyne looks absolutely beautiful as students approach midterm season.

Midterms start this week. I know; I also had to read that twice because I could not believe it. Time is flying on campus and it has been amazing, but with everything going on it can be difficult to stay motivated and study for midterms. Nonetheless, I believe in myself and all of you reading this post! We will make it through midterms and we will succeed. Here are the tips and tricks that I am going to use to perform my best, and I hope that you can use them too:

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Writing a Literature Review? Some Tips Before You Start

Writing the literature review section for a scientific research article can be a daunting task. This blog post is a summary of what I have personally found to best help when writing about scientific research. I hope some of these tips can help make the process an easier and more fulfilling experience!

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Making Use of Office Hours

With classes in full swing, I thought I would share my thoughts on what is a woefully underused resource at Princeton: office hours. Going to office hours has been an extremely valuable tool for me in completing problem sets, studying for tests and exams, and connecting with professors. So read ahead for some advice and observations I’ve made!

Consult your department’s website or syllabus for professors’ office hour availabilities—faculty try hard to make themselves available because office hours can be a very valuable resource!
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How to Get Involved with Lab-Based Research at Princeton

As a first-year B.S.E student with little to no previous research experience, the idea of writing an eighty-page senior thesis based on my own lab-based research seemed like an extremely daunting task. Now, into the first semester of my junior year, the thought of having to write a thesis next year still seems like a challenge, although a lot less intimidating than two years ago. The main reason for this is because I have participated in multiple research-based summer internships through Princeton, which have helped me feel better prepared to do lab-based junior independent work and a senior thesis in the coming semesters.

You may also be wondering how early you can get involved with lab-based research at Princeton. Although there is certainly no pressure to do research as a first-year or sophomore if you do not want to, Princeton does make sure that opportunities are available for those who do want to be involved early. Here’s a timeline of some of the different lab-based opportunities available, and when you can start getting involved.

The scanning electron microscope in Princeton’s Imaging and Analysis Center, where I am doing research with a material science lab on campus.
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From Zoom to McCosh Hall: 5 Tips for a Successful In-Person Semester

From Bent Spoon trips to the most delicious Whitman Pot Pies, it feels amazing to say that we are finally back at the best place of all!

Packed lecture halls. Firestone meetups. Murray-Dodge cookie runs. After a long, hard year, it has been absolutely legendary to be back on campus, hug my friends, and say hello to the gates of Nassau once more. However, the transition from Zoom to the room could be daunting, especially for first years and sophomores who have never been on campus before. Robertson Hall is definitely more intimidating than a breakout room with your camera off. But, in-person classes are amazing here, and I would love to offer some tips for success on making the transition. So, without further ado, here is my advice on in-person life at Princeton:

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Lost in the Library? Turn to a Librarian!

The Trustee Reading Room in Firestone Library, the hub of the entire Princeton University Library system and one of the largest libraries in the world.

Beginning a research project is often a daunting task. Often, when I begin a project, I have the vaguest idea of what to research. Sometimes, I don’t know where to begin looking. Given that Firestone is one of the largest open stack libraries in existence, there are literally millions of books, journals, anthologies, and other pieces of literature to sift through. The process of identifying the literature that will propel a research topic is thus often the most tiring part, but thankfully, there is a solution: the wonderful Princeton librarians!

So, who are these librarians? 

In fact, each undergraduate student at Princeton is assigned their own personal librarian. This librarian is supposed to act as your direct liaison between the library system and yourself. You can go to them to receive guidance on how to navigate the stacks, learn how to take advantage of different workshops and programs, or even just have a chat. My personal librarian, Ellen Ambrosone, almost always sends me an email every semester to remind me of her services. Often, she also includes a picture of her dog! Regardless, these librarians are meant to be friendly faces in a huge space, so do reach out to them with any inquiries about your research or the library system writ large!

The Princeton University Library system also hosts a large array of different subject librarians, each specializing in their own discipline. For example, Steven Knowlton is one of the subject librarians for both History and African American Studies. Thus, a student interested in a topic pertaining to History and/or African American Studies might want to reach out to him in order to identify literature that may be pertinent to your research topic. 

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Welcome Back to the 2021-2022 Academic Year!

Hello everyone and welcome back! It is with great excitement that I write this post from a cozy armchair in Chancellor Green Library within East Pyne. While the 2021-2022 semester is not normal in every sense, PCUR certainly has returned in full stride. And with a new year comes new correspondents: I am happy to introduce Cecilia Kim ’23, Agnes Robang ’23, and Sandeep Mangat ’24, the newest members to our team. I hope you enjoy becoming familiar with their unique voices as they share their experiences on the blog. They join us in addition to Yodahe Gebreegziabher ’22, Bridget Denzer ’23, Ryan Champeau ’23, Austin Davis ’23, and Abhimanyu Banerjee ’23.

In conjunction with the beginning of the academic year comes a storm of essays, tests and quizzes, readings, extracurricular activities, and research opportunities. Sharing their own tips, experiences, frustrations, successes, and realizations, our correspondents from a variety of disciplines and class years navigate their semesters alongside your own. Feel free to check out each of their bios as well, included below.

From left to right, Kamron, Sandeep, Ryan, Yodahe, Cecilia, Austin, Agnes, and Manyu.
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Doing Research in a Pandemic, an Interview with Professor Yael Niv

For this Spring Seasonal Series, entitled Doing Research in a Pandemic, each correspondent has selected a researcher to interview about the impact of the pandemic on their research. We hope that these interviews document the nuanced ways the pandemic has affected research experiences, and serve as a resource for students and other researchers. Here, Ryan shares her interview.

Professor Niv at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute.

For this seasonal series, I decided to interview Yael Niv, a Professor in Neuroscience and Psychology at Princeton University. Professor Niv has conducted key research on reinforcement learning and decision-making and she continues to contribute to this field at her lab at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. I decided to interview Professor Niv because I have taken two courses with her (FRS172: Our Subjective Reality and PSY338: From Animal Learning to Changing Minds) and have truly been inspired by the work she has done and the positive attitude that she brings to the classroom every day. I know that we can all learn from Professor Niv, especially at a time like right now. In our interview, we discuss the importance of hallway encounters, research opportunities during the pandemic, and the future of her lab.

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Getting Involved in Research Early

As I near the end of my first two years at Princeton, I thought that it would be useful to reflect on my time here so far, and how I prepared (or often did not prepare) myself to take advantage of research and internship opportunities. As I mentioned in my last post, one of the most useful parts of my internship search this year was talking with the preceptor of one of my classes, as I had the chance to learn from the experience of an older student. Here, I thought I might try and put my own advice into practice by flipping it around: while I cannot claim to have anywhere near the same experience of our graduate counterparts, I thought that my experience might still be useful to current and future first-year students. These are some of the pieces of advice from my time here.

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