Applying to Summer Programs

Quincy Monday ‘23 sitting in a chair working on his laptop in the lobby of New College West
Fortunately, if you’re stressed out trying to write all of these summer program applications, Princeton has plenty of comfortable study spaces to be working, like Quincy Monday ’23 in the lobby of NCW. Photo Credits: Dan Komoda (2023)

Applying to summer programs can seem like a daunting task when you may not even know what you want to do next summer. The busyness of the semester certainly hasn’t created a ton of time to be thinking about these things! Fortunately, winter break is a great time to work on applications to summer programs, as many of the earlier applications are often due early in the year. Having prepared them beforehand can ease a lot of stress, since the middle of the spring semester isn’t the most convenient time to be starting these applications. These timelines can vary by field, so it could be a bit different based on the type of program you are applying to—the career center has a great timeline of internship recruitment that is sorted by field so you can see the differences. Regardless, it’s great to work on these during the break when you don’t have courses.

You may be looking for something far away, here in Princeton, an industry internship at a company, or a research program at a university. Regardless of if you know exactly what you want to do or still aren’t sure, here are some tips to help you sort through this process.

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Looking at Qualitative Research through Junior Papers: An Interview with Albert Lee ‘24

Headshot of Albert Lee standing in Colonial Club, wearing a blue suit.

Albert Lee ‘24 is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Chair at Colonial Club, a member of the Students for Prison Education, Abolition, and Reform (SPEAR), and former Senior Writer for The Daily Princetonian.

As a junior, a hot topic for many of my friends lately has been their junior research and senior theses. In brainstorming ideas for this piece, I also thought about the incredible amount of learning that takes place in just a semester. That’s when I got the idea for this paper—to hear from seniors about their recent experiences conducting research for their Junior Papers. So, I reached out to Albert Lee ‘24, a senior majoring in Sociology and pursuing a certificate in Journalism.

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How to Tackle Research Topics “Beyond Your Depth” as an Undergraduate

Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate student Meiqi Yang working on lithium extraction in a lab.
You may not feel as confident as CEE department graduate student Meiqi Yang looks here working on lithium extraction, but as you do more research over time, you’ll feel much more comfortable as you progress. Photo Credit: Bumper DeJesus (2023)

When doing research as an undergraduate, sometimes the work you are doing and topics you study may be very familiar to you, other times you may be totally unfamiliar with what is going on. Maybe you even have some previous experience but the topic of the project is way above anything you’ve done before—you might be working with a physics professor on something really advanced like quantum field theory or condensed matter, which you have never taken a class on and are expected to now work on and understand what’s going on during your project. This can happen a lot in any field, not just STEM, where your professor may have spent years studying something that you are expected to contribute to after having taken maybe a few classes in it, if that. Some professors may work more often with graduate students, so they may assume that you know “basic” things about your field that you as an undergrad have just encountered for the first time: you could be working with an Art History professor who focuses on Late Antiquity, and they start throwing around terms and common symbols that you aren’t able to easily recognize. 

Regardless of the circumstances, this situation comes up a lot in undergraduate research. The fortunate thing is that tons of professors are willing to work with students who have no prior experience in the subject, but you still have to wrestle with “catching up” as you try to somewhat understand anything that you’re actually doing. Here are some tips to try to get acclimated with difficult, unfamiliar topics that may be well above your current depth as an undergraduate.

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Shattering the Glass Ceiling: Becoming a Woman Undergraduate Researcher

A guide of first steps for women-identifying undergraduate students stepping into research

Two women students in lab coats performing a chemistry experiment.
Every women-identifying undergraduate student has the potential to become an incredible researcher; your journey starts now!

As we step into the new school year, woman-identifying undergraduate students across campus are looking to take their first steps into research. This process can be new, daunting, and sometimes, downright terrifying. It’s scary to step into a room where you are the first, the only, or both. That’s why it’s imperative to support women-identifying students in empowering research communities, advocating for their learning goals, and asserting themselves in new research settings. For allies, there are also important ideas shared by woman-identifying researchers about the best ways to support their success.

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An Interview with Kelly Finke on Finding your Way in Research and the Meaning of Failure

Kelly smiling in a red jacket holding a coffee mug

For this post in our collaboration with Princeton Perspectives Project I dusted off my blog-writing skills and had the pleasure of interviewing 2nd year EEB PhD student Kelly Finke. She uses computational biology techniques to study collective human behavior in Professor Corina Tarnita’s lab.

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Introducing the Sophomore Research Seminars: An Interview with Professor Emma Ljung

Image of Professor Emma Ljung teaching a seminar
Professor Emma Ljung teaching in a seminar.

With course selection coming around the corner, the sheer number of opportunities can be overwhelming. Choosing courses can be doubly challenging for rising sophomores who are finishing up their prerequisite courses and trying to figure out what they even want to major in. I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce a new and exciting opportunity for students interested in research—the Sophomore Research Seminars.

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Research During the Academic Year: Tips for Time Management & Pursuing your Passions

A schedule board with a plethora of sticky notes containing writings on various obligations.
Whether you’re in a lab or working remotely, fitting in research during the academic year requires above all a willingness to prioritize yourself and good time management. Photo Credit: Jo Szczepanska.

Whether you’re trying to free up your summer to enjoy one of Princeton’s other fully-funded programs, or maybe pave the way for more advanced summer or independent research opportunities, it’s understandable why you might want to get a head start on research during the academic year. But, with jam-packed class schedules, multiple labs, essays to write, and hopefully squeezing in some time for yourself, it can feel impossible to do research on top of life at Princeton. So, how do students do it? Can you really spend 8-10 hours per week on research and still find work-life balance? In short, it depends. The number of classes you’re taking, extracurriculars, and your own unique circumstances all factor into whether research during the academic year is sustainable for your class schedule. For some, research can be a valuable addition to their academic schedules. But, like anything at Princeton, it requires careful planning, time management, and clarifying your own values. Here are three tips for striking balance with research during the academic year.

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My Favorite Introductory Lab at Princeton

Three students stand around a tree in the woods and measure its diameter with a tape measure
Students measure the diameter of a tree much like one of the EEB 211 labs

I had lab from 7:30pm to 10:20pm and it was one of my favorite Princeton memories. I tend to get weird looks when I say that, but it’s true! I took EEB 211 fall of my freshman year, mostly because I thought the name “Life on Earth: Mechanisms of Change in Nature” sounded cool. The course itself is the introductory course to Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and it is similar to some of what I learned in AP Biology in high school but with much more of a focus on species-wide interactions. Format wise, it is a pretty classic lecture Biology class with only a midterm and final, and while the lectures were super interesting the real fun is the labs.

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The Creation of TigerResearch: An Interview with Vivek Kolli ’24

Photo of Vivek Kolli '24

Vivek Kolli ’24 is Vice Chair of the Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy and Director of Marketing and Outreach for Scholars of Finance.

A few weeks ago, I interviewed Vivek Kolli ‘24, a junior in the Operations Research and Financial Engineering (ORFE) department. Vivek is one of the three developers for TigerResearch, a comprehensive platform that allows for students to easily navigate through their database of Princeton professors and their research areas. In our interview*, we discuss his vision for the platform, the importance of entrepreneurial ideas in driving the research process, and advice for students who would like to get involved with research at Princeton.

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Missed the First ReMatch Dinners? I Got You Covered

Photo of ReMatch table at the Carl A. Fields Center Multipurpose Room. Mentors and mentees are standing around a tall bistro table covered in an orange tablecloth.
Great conversations were happening at the Computer Science and Quantum Studies table at the October 13th ReMatch Meet and Greet

Princeton gives its farthest walks to its strongest academic weapons. Still, sometimes schlepping all the way to the Carl A. Fields (CAF) Center is just a bit too much. If you felt like this around 6:00pm on Tuesday October 4th or Thursday, October 13th, you just may have missed the first ReMatch dinner. No worries! I am here to fill you in on what you missed and hopefully convince you that the next one is worth the walk. First things first, ReMatch (developed and led by the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Graduate School) is a program that helps match first- and second-year undergraduates interested in research with graduate student and postdoc researcher mentors. Mentor and mentee pairs that develop potentially embark on a summer of research in Princeton fully funded by the university. At the dinners, students can eat catered food, mingle, and chat with researchers at tables. 

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