Photo courtesy of Ka Leo

Student involvement in UHM research, from the ground up

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching designated the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa as having “very high research activity.” Not only does the faculty conduct their own research, but students are encouraged to perform their own research. Those who are looking to get their feet wet can participate in others’ projects or become a research assistant for a professor. Later on, you can lead a research project as an undergrad.

For the freebies

If you have ever wondered what it is like to be a lab rat in an experiment, the researchers at UH Mānoa do their best to make it worth your while. Not only will you help someone in need, but experiments often offer freebies for your valuable time. Past examples include cash, gift cards and extra credit.

UH Mānoa’s communications, psychology, and economics departments, among others, often hold studies involving student participation, so ask them about upcoming opportunities.

For the experience

Filling out a few surveys may not satisfy your appetite for discovering the unknown. You may want to see what the world of research is like, or you might not have the time or energy to commit yourself to a time-consuming project. In that case, consider working with a professor on his or her research.

You will get a first-hand look at what goes on inside a study, and you may get to do some of the cutting-edge research yourself. While working on their professors’ projects, many students often find the inspiration to start their own research. The time you will spend assisting will not have gone to waste. The skills you acquire will be the same that you will apply in your own project. Your professors will work with you so that your hours will work with your schedule.

The Student Employment & Cooperative Education (SECE) and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program’s (UROP) websites are good starting places to search for assistant positions. You can also network with your professors to find someone who has a research interest that matches yours and work to create your own position, as most labs have or are looking for undergraduate helpers.

For the glory

After being an assistant, you may want to start your own research project. Not only will your résumé shine with the distinction of having done groundbreaking research that goes beyond your textbooks, but you may learn invaluable personal management skills and work alongside faculty. You will have the chance to go abroad to conduct your research, and the world will come to network with you at international conferences. What you do could end up changing the future for the better while making a name for yourself and UH Mānoa.

UROP is one go-to place available to those who want to take the plunge. The program can help with your project’s approval and funding if you want to present your work. UROP has funded 335 student-led projects under the guidance of faculty mentors. The Associated Students of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa offers a research award for funding projects. Ranging from exploring theater in Iran, examining the cancer-fighting properties of the noni fruit, printing prosthetic hands for Papua New Guinea and exploring gender and society in Bolivia, research is not confined to science or the “laboratory.”

For those seeking to attend conferences or publish research, your journey will start with finding a mentor and working on your proposal. With the guidance of a faculty member, you can improve and focus your study to apply for approval from an Institutional Review Board (IRB). What you choose to do regarding your funding and your study is up to you and your mentor. At the end of each semester, the Honors Program and UROP hold an undergraduate showcase, where you will speak about and present your work for judging and awards.

Ask questions or set up an appointment with UROP, and remember that your professors can help you form your ideas and plans. As your project will take time, it is always a good idea to start making plans early.

Source: A Ka Leo story