Resources for Researchers Choosing Summer Programs

No matter how you look at it, spring semester is about making choices. The first few weeks involve choosing which classes to switch into (or, less happily, out of). The next few months will see sophomores choosing their major, and seniors choosing the direction of their post-graduation lives. Of course, there is one other choice embedded in this half of the year: what internship/program/job each of us will do over the summer.

So many resources, so little time…

Since most summer opportunities require some level of research skills, PCUR wanted to help you decide what kind of researcher you’d like to be between May and August (and possibly beyond). We created Resources for Researchers to point you in the right direction. Our new page – which you’ll also find in our menu bar – includes where to look for research programs, who to contact, and how to get funding. We’ve surveyed Princeton-sponsored opportunities as well as those from outside organizations. Whether you’re interested in science, engineering, health, government, policy, humanities, arts, or culture, there’s some useful information waiting for your perusal.

A final note: Resources for Researchers is not exclusively devoted to summer programs. It also covers fall-spring research opportunities and independently-designed projects. So, no matter what kind of researcher you’d like to be, take a look at the Resources available here – and make whatever choice feels right for you.

— Melissa Parnagian, Chief Correspondent 

The Importance of Being Vocal: Student Feedback at Princeton

Suggestions and feedback are an extremely important part of the University’s growth! Have you ever noticed this suggestions box by the Welcome Desk in Frist? 

With Princeton ranked as the No. 1 school in America, it’s easy to assume that everything here is the best that it can be: We have great professors, amazing resources, and will graduate with a degree that is highly esteemed around the world. Surrounded by all of the University’s accolades, we oftentimes forget how important the student voice is to the University’s growth and development. Over these past few weeks, however, I’ve discovered how integral students are to improving academic and social life here on campus.

Continue reading The Importance of Being Vocal: Student Feedback at Princeton

A Fall Break to Remember: Site-Specific Research in Detroit’s Artist Community

On the last Friday before fall break, as each of my friends packed up their belongings and boarded New Jersey Transit to head home for the week, I found myself preparing for an entirely different experience. One of the courses I am taking, a seminar called The Arts of Urban Transition, took a five-day-long field trip to Detroit over break as part of an interdisciplinary urban studies program at Princeton. This program, entitled the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism & the Humanities, is a three-year project that allows students to examine these areas of study through project-based interdisciplinary courses. My class focuses on the roles of art and artists in urban environments undergoing change. Detroit has been a major focal point in the curriculum, which is why I found myself boarding a plane headed to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

One of the sites our class visited was a metalworking studio run by a German African American artist out of his own home. The glorious bus pictured here was our primary means of transportation while in Detroit.

Continue reading A Fall Break to Remember: Site-Specific Research in Detroit’s Artist Community

Correspondent Convos: What is your best research advice?

Correspondent_Convos_IconJust because it’s called “independent work” doesn’t mean that you’re alone. PCUR knows we’ve reached a very research-heavy time of the semester, and we have some words of wisdom for anyone tackling a new project – whether it’s your first or fifteenth at the college level. Watch below to hear our advice; and remember, if you have a specific question, we’re never more than a contact us form away.

— Melissa Parnagian, Chief Correspondent

The Project That Made Me a Researcher: (No?) Lab Coat Required

Over the course of the semester, PCURs will explain how they found their place in research. We present these to you as a series called The Project That Made Me a Researcher. As any undergraduate knows, the transition from ‘doing a research project’ to thinking of yourself as a researcher is an exciting and highly individualized phenomenon. Here, Jalisha shares her story.


Tons of research is conducted in the Psychology/Neuroscience building, but you seldomly see anyone wearing a lab coat!
Tons of research is conducted in the Psychology/Neuroscience building, but you seldom see anyone wearing a lab coat!

White lab coats. As a freshman in high school, I believed these to be the quintessential markings of a true researcher. My transition into the world of research, then, occurred during the summer after my first year of high school, when I wore my very own lab coat for the first time.

That summer, I participated in the Research and Engineering Apprenticeship Program, a program charged with the mission of encouraging young minorities to pursue careers in STEM fields. I was assigned to work with a microbiology professor in her lab, where I would assist with research on the presence of harmful bacteria in store-bought lunchmeat. I had nothing more than my high school biology experience for credentials, but with my white lab coat on, I felt prepared for anything. Continue reading The Project That Made Me a Researcher: (No?) Lab Coat Required

Correspondent Convos: What are your research challenges?

Correspondent_Convos_IconYou’ve probably heard that research is more of a marathon than a sprint. That’s definitely true — Every independent project involves thorough planning and lots of stamina.  But since we’re on the subject of analogies, it’s also true that research is an obstacle course.  Think about it: There are challenges built into the research process, and sometimes they’re impossible to avoid.  PCUR gets real about these roadblocks in our second Correspondent Convo.  Watch below to learn which struggles are most common, and which strategies can help you reach the finish line.

— Melissa Parnagian, Chief Correspondent

Correspondent Convos: Why do you enjoy research?

Correspondent_Convos_IconAs the semester rolls on, it can be difficult to get excited about your research projects or independent work.  You may be tempted to view an upcoming assignment as just another addition to your busy schedule – but that line of thinking zaps your energy before you even start.  Now is a good time to remember the things you enjoy about research.  And yes, there are things you enjoy about research.  Watch PCUR weigh in on the most exciting moments of independent work, and make sure to stay pumped for your next project.

— Melissa Parnagian, Chief Correspondent

Asking for Help: A Question of Foolish Pride?

While pride might not necessarily cause us to build lavish palaces as some of our ancestors did, it could have other not-so-subtle effects on our daily lives.

“What did you do?”

Ever since I decided to reach out my audacious hand and tweak a couple things with the breath analyzer system for my research project, I dreaded hearing this question from my graduate student mentor. The tweaking had started as a simple desire to become more proactive in solving problems, but, as we know from tales like this, it did not end quite as I would have liked.

Despite having worked in my current lab for nearly two years, I still often feel like there are more things than ever that I don’t know how to do, more problems that I don’t know how to solve. As I’ve previously posted, I’ve been fighting a constant uphill struggle to get over my aversion to asking for help since coming to Princeton. Although I’ve become aware of it, I’ve recently realized there’s another factor that can get in the way of trying to rectify my aversion to asking for help: hanging onto what is often just foolish pride.

One day a couple weeks ago, I spotted some odd behavior with the breath analyzer system I currently work with for my independent work project. I wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong with it, but I had asked for help so many times before that it was starting to feel like too many times. Besides, we had done the procedure several times before. So I decided it was worth it to try fixing it by myself. Continue reading Asking for Help: A Question of Foolish Pride?

Tis the Season: Reorienting Your Research Goals

Even as the holiday season approaches, make sure you stay oriented with regards to your project. (Photo by Stacey Huang)
Even as the holiday season approaches, make sure you stay oriented with regards to your project.

Winter break is coming.

But that also means that, much as we would like to avoid it, reading period is also approaching more quickly than we might like. While that’s the last thing we want to be reminded of going into winter break, it helps to think ahead for planning. As a student doing independent work in the Electrical Engineering Department, I am required to submit a report during reading period summarizing what I have achieved during the semester. However, as that time draws closer and closer, I still don’t feel like there is necessarily a conclusive midway point in my research. I have to start asking myself: what exactly did I do this semester? What were my goals coming in and how far have I gone to reach them? Continue reading Tis the Season: Reorienting Your Research Goals

Ready for Take-Off: A Pre-Departure Plan to Study Abroad

The Office of International Programs helps students make their travel dreams a reality! (Photo credit: Morgan Celistan)
The Office of International Programs helps students make their travel dreams a reality!

Many people think about studying abroad while at Princeton, but only a select few actually apply. I seldom hear of research-oriented students studying abroad.  Many of us fear leaving behind the Princeton-centered academic research we’ve grown attached to. However, study abroad can be an amazing opportunity for student researchers to learn about their fields from an international perspective.

Next semester, I’ll be studying abroad at University College London (UCL). In addition to taking classes at my new university, I also hope to get involved in its research community. It seems easy to get caught up in the grandeur of being in a new location, focusing on exploring the area and forgetting to engage in meaningful and intellectual pursuits related to research. Therefore, I have spent the last few days trying to brainstorm ways to tie my research ambitions in with my plans for studying abroad. I’ve come up with a few pre-departure tasks that I feel will help me keep my research at the forefront of my mind while I traverse across the seas:

Continue reading Ready for Take-Off: A Pre-Departure Plan to Study Abroad