St. Joseph’s College hosted a virtual, informal panel about undergraduate research last week, during which faculty, students and alumni shared information about their own experience and the opportunities presented to them because of their research.
“Research is absolutely everywhere, all the time, in our faces,” said Michael Magee, Ph.D., SJC Brooklyn’s director of undergraduate research and associate professor of psychology. “It’s very hard to get good research experience as an undergrad, and I think one of the many benefits of SJC being such a small college is that we, faculty, have much more time to spend one-on-one with our students.”
Dr. Magee, who hosted the panel discussion alongside Cheyne Miller, Ph.D., SJC Long Island’s director of undergraduate research and assistant professor of mathematics and computer science, shared that SJC students have even co-authored articles about their research at the College — another detail they can add to their resumes to set themselves apart from other candidates.
Students conducting research at St. Joseph’s also have the opportunity to receive a grant, as well as to present their findings at the College’s annual Student Research Symposium.
Students Share Their Research Stories
A senior biology major with a concentration in adolescence education, Kevin Ibanez started having second thoughts before his research began, concerned that it would interfere with his other classes and observation hours. But now he’s very happy he got the experience.
“I’m glad I stuck it out,” he said. “It’s really ignited this passion in me, not only about my subject, but in sharing it with other people and sharing about my experience.”
“It helped me gain a lot of experience with conducting interviews and allowed me to really connect with the SJC community,” she said. “And now because I had that experience, I get to volunteer at Springfield College in Massachusetts. The undergraduate research at SJC helped me get my foot in the door, and I found out that I liked research when I didn’t think that I would.”
“It was worth every second of working hard to understand that information, and it lead to a lot of really cool opportunities,” said Rossano, who participated in a prestigious program at Brookhaven National Lab during his senior year.
Advice to Those Interested
“For students who are not sure if they want to do research or not, just reach out to the faculty,” Fields said. “I think that’s my favorite part about St. Joe’s — just how great the faculty is and how welcoming they are. With research, putting your best food forward and trying it out is the best thing you can do.”
Melissa De Jesus, an SJC Long Island 2017 graduate who completed mathematics research at the College, agreed with Fields, adding that if a student is even thinking about research, they should give it a shot.
“In your regular classes, you’re taught general ideas. When you’re researching, you’re putting that theory to the test,” said De Jesus, who is now pursuing her Ph.D. “If you’re debating it, go to a professor that you trust. They will open all these doors for you, and you’ll see that you’re in the right place. The amount of benefits I’ve gotten just from doing undergraduate research is crazy.”
Ibanez stressed the importance of taking advantage of this chance presented to students at SJC.
“Try it out. You might not get another opportunity like this again,” he said. “Your advisers, your professors, they’ll be like your mentors, and they’ll be there to help you. And they’ll be more than happy to do so, because they’re just as invested as you are.”