Delaan Nedd ’25 (second from the left in the top row) and the Bocarsly Lab. Photo from Bocarsly Lab News.
As we enter December, it seems like summer is far, far away, but it’s a good time to start thinking about summer plans if you haven’t already. If you’re interested in research, there are numerous summer research programs whose applications are currently open (the Office of Undergraduate Research has a great list here).
For students with no experience with research, just getting started can be daunting. I wanted to hear from students whose first hands-on exposure to research was through Princeton’s research programs, so I interviewed Delaan Nedd ‘25. Delaan spent this past summer in the Princeton Department of Chemistry’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Chemistry (SURF-C) program. SURF-C is a nine-week program for first and second-year undergraduate students to work on cutting-edge chemistry research alongside Princeton faculty, post-docs, graduate students, and other undergrads. What’s exciting is that the research Delaan contributed to during SURF-C was recently published in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Dalton Transactions journal—check out the full paper here!
In this interview, we discuss his experience with on-campus summer research both in and out of the lab, as well as how the summer further informed his academic and career interests.
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.
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.
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.
Sharing the discoveries you’ve made is not just extremely rewarding, but a necessary part of the research process because it ensures your findings can be put to use. Writing about your research is a tough obstacle to tackle in and of itself, but what I want to focus on today is the arguably more intimidating half of sharing your research: speaking about it. Both formats require demonstrating your command of the subject while also being engaging. Unlike writing about your research, where you generally have a well-defined goal from the get-go, you will find yourself speaking about your research in an enormous range of contexts. Here are three of my tips for talking about your research, whether summarizing your findings for your grandma or giving a formal presentation to a group of experts.
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.
Having no knowledge about Neuroscience at the time, I did not expect my experience taking Advanced Placement Psychology to amount to more than an interesting elective. However, I discovered my passion for research through Dr. Volpicelli-Daley, who came to our class to give a presentation about her research on Parkinson’s Disease with mouse models. She invited us to apply for a position as a research assistant in her lab, and I ended up getting the job. I worked with the Volpicelli-Daley research team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham during the summer between my junior and senior years of high school and then again over my gap year before coming to Princeton.
“Did I include a scholarly conversation? Where is the motive of my piece? Do I even have a thesis?!” The “Submit” button on Canvas can stir worrisome thoughts as it may seem permanent or stressful. The goal of this post is to walk you through a few final steps you can take to ensure that everything is in check and ready to go, so that you don’t feel like something is missing once turning in your assignment. These points are by no means the end all be all, but you may use them to help you feel more confident handing in your final product. Thus, without further ado, here are 3 final steps to follow before submitting your research paper.
When I finally got rejected from the international internship in Portugal I applied to, I was crushed. I had worked so hard on the application, done practice interviews, and had relevant work experience. I felt that surely I would at least get an interview, and probably be welcomed into the program with open arms. I had chatted with someone else who did the same program and loved it, and I imagined myself strolling the glorious halls of the cutting-edge research facility I would work in. But then the notification date came and passed. “Oh well,” I thought, “I applied to some High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI) internships in cool places, surely one of those would work out!” Nope. With the summer break growing ever nearer, it seemed I was officially out of luck. It felt like all of my friends had these grand plans in places around the globe I never even imagined traveling, but I was stuck.
There are many reasons why I chose to major in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA), ranging from the impact that we have through service and the focus on policy and law. One unique feature of SPIA is the ability for concentrators to take more qualitative courses such as SPI333: Law, Institutions, and Public Policy and quantitatively-based courses, such as POL346: Applied Quantitative Analysis. During the Fall of my junior year, I wrote a more qualitative junior paper on risk assessment tools in the pretrial adjudication system and analyzed whether or not they make more biased decisions than do humans (see here to read more about my experience). Headed into my junior spring, I was presented with the choice of writing another qualitative paper or joining a quantitative research lab. Thankfully, I felt confident in my coding abilities due to past courses I had taken which prepared me for this moment (see here to read about how I gained a quantitative background in R as a SPIA major). I chose the lab without hesitation and my spring semester independent research journey began.