Imagine that you’ve been working on a research project for months. Now you’re standing in front of a crowd of professors, some of which probably know more about your topic than you do. If you do research working in an academic department, it can be a stressful experience if you have to eventually present your work to that department. Trying to talk about what you’ve done with your own adviser can be enough sometimes, and showing work that you may not be 100% comfortable with for a whole crowd of professors is a whole new level of daunting. They all have years of experience and may know more about aspects of your presentation than you do, so trying to seem like you know what you’re talking about while possibly being asked questions far out of your depth may seem impossible for an undergraduate to do.
Nonetheless, whether it’s theses, JPs, internships, or summer projects, all undergraduates here are going to find themselves in this position. So how do you do it?
In partnership with the Princeton Perspectives Project (PPP), we’re back for Part 2 of our interview with Organic Chemistry TA Tom Silldorff ’23. While organic chemistry, or “Orgo,” may have earned its notoriety for its exceeding complexity, demanding exams, and time-intensive study, this does not mean that students have to struggle the whole way through. In our first interview, we discussed how Tom found his passion for Orgo and some of his key takeaways from tutoring on how students can grow throughout the course. This time, we’re tackling some of the deepest challenges students face while taking Orgo: What actually gives Orgo its difficult reputation? What can prospective Orgo students do now to prepare for the course? How did Tom face his own struggles with the demand for effortless perfection? If you’ve ever wondered how you can maximize your growth from Orgo or even academics more generally, then read on for one final reflection on fear, failure, and the beauty of Organic Chemistry with graduating senior, Tom Silldorff.
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.
As someone who has loved museums for as long as I can remember, it feels heretical to even admit that my own brother considers most museums to be boring. The older sister in me has not let this go easily, and, in fact, I’ve been practicing my art of persuasion through getting my friends and family into museums even when they are hesitant. If you, too, are hoping to convince someone to join you at a museum or maybe are looking for a way to get more out of museums yourself, here is some of my hard-earned advice.
We may have wasted no time getting back into the semester after spring break, but just two weeks ago, I was exploring Denmark as a part of the class “Making the Viking Age.” This trip marks the second time I have been lucky enough to travel internationally as part of a class here at Princeton; last fall, I also visited Rome as a part of a group of students who took the Western Humanities Sequence during our first year. With course selection just around the corner, I highly recommend keeping an eye out for courses that include travel, as they have been some of the most academically enriching experiences I have had in all my education thus far.
Senior thesis. Senior thesis. Senior thesis. By this time of year, you have most likely heard seniors in the middle of the night at Firestone or at Coffee Club study breaks, thinking about, stressing about, and working on their senior thesis. In my last post, I wrote about one of the first and most important steps of the senior thesis process, choosing the right adviser (see here). Now, I walk through what I believe to be another pivotal moment for the senior thesis process: choosing a topic. For SPIA majors and presumably for many other majors as well, it may seem difficult to narrow down your project to one specific topic when the major is so broad and diverse. Throughout my time at Princeton, I have taken classes in law, environmental policy, psychology, economics, ethics and more, and I enjoyed them all. But, I eventually had to choose one topic to write a full thesis on. So, without further ado, here are some steps on choosing the right topic for you.
The start of a new semester can be an adjustment, especially after a long and relaxing break. In the spring, I often end up feeling overwhelmed by internship applications, which Amaya recently wrote about. A few weeks ago, though, I found myself overwhelmed in a far more positive manner; I came back to campus early this year for Wintersession, and was amazed by the huge selection of opportunities both on and off campus. Wintersession is a recent Princeton initiative, giving students the chance to teach and participate in workshops, classes, and trips during the last two weeks of winter break. This past Wintersession, some of the offerings included a class on blacksmithing and a skiing trip. Free, short-term programs are the perfect chance to step out of your learning comfort zone. A particularly engaging class could spark your interest in an unfamiliar (or even underexplored!) topic, opening up new avenues for potential research.
Last spring, I interviewed Kasey Shashaty. In this second part of my interview, we discuss specific challenges in her transition between virtual and in-person research and reflections on how this experience in the PULSe Lab has influenced her perspective on research and her plans for the future.
Kasey Shashaty got her jumpstart in research through the ReMatch+ program organized by the Office of Undergraduate Research. ReMatch+ is a summer mentorship program that pairs first-year and second-year students with a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow as they work on a summer research project. Read on to learn more about her research experience!
Everyone has heard of the spooky ~senior thesis~ since the second that they stepped on campus for their official Princeton tour. It may feel far away at the time, but trust me, coming from a second semester senior, it comes around quicker than you expect. I am currently in the writing process, but it has been a long journey even getting to this point. Surprisingly, though, I have loved writing my thesis. It does not feel like work because it is a topic that I am truly passionate about. My goal for my final PCUR posts is to walk you through my thesis journey to hopefully make you feel better about yours. This post will start with one of the first steps of the thesis process: finding an adviser.
Winter break is long and much-needed. It is a time to relax, rejuvenate, and reflect on the semester. In this post, I will give advice on how to make the most of the next few months, but I recognize that you know yourself best and should choose to spend your break in whatever way makes you happiest. Without further ado, here are my takeaways from the last 3 winter breaks: