Something incredible happened the other day in class here at University College London (UCL). My psychology professor was lecturing on the topic of attention and awareness when, suddenly, a familiar name appeared on the screen: Matthew Botvinick, Professor of Psychology at Princeton University! I was struck with surprise, amazement, and joy at seeing his name on the board, feeling fortunate to have taken a neuroscience course with him the year before. A sense of pride washed over me as my European classmates & I learned about one of Professor Botvinick’s experimental studies on conflict monitoring. However, I also felt a wave of regret. Why had I not known about this study before? Shouldn’t I, a student in the Psychology Department at Princeton, know about the amazing research that my professor had conducted?
Most students at Princeton are well aware of the fact that the school’s faculty members are highly accomplished. However, while the merits of some professors are published by CNN on a daily basis, the accomplishments of other professors are less publicized. Nonetheless, many of the individuals who stand before us each and every day have and continue to produce incredible research that is highly regarded around the world.
It is a common practice to do a quick Google search of a professor before enrolling in their class, typically to see what their research interests are and whether or not they have their own Wikipedia page. Instead of simply taking a cursory glance at the first few search engine results, however, we should also challenge ourselves to try our hand at reading a publication or two by these accessible scholars. In addition to reading publications, it seems just as important to simply engage in dialogue with our professors about their current research. As undergraduate students, we typically tend to distance ourselves from our professors outside of the classroom. For example, I know that I rarely invest time to learn what new research my statistics professor is conducting, or whether my biology professor is presenting his research at an upcoming conference. However, through simple actions such as staying late after lecture or attending office hours, we can easily learn about the cutting-edge research conducted by people we see nearly every day.
The professors of Princeton are esteemed around the world, but tend to be less known around our own campus. It’s time that we, as undergraduate students, take notice of the amazing work they do. Not only can we learn a thing or two about their contributions to the fields in which they work, but we can also grow to appreciate the individuals that provide us with a first class education.
–Jalisha Braxton, Natural Sciences and Study Abroad Correspondent
Sidenote: I recently discovered that the psychology page of the Princeton University Library has a feed that tracks the most recent publications from Princeton Psychology and Neuroscience professors! Check it out if you’re interested! http://libguides.princeton.edu/psychology. Happy Reading!