Blazers, meet Jalen Norris.
Jalen is a junior who is studying psychology at VSU. This past year, he became interested in undergraduate research and knew it needed to be a priority in order to apply for medical school. Jalen, like many others, found himself unsure of who to contact and what to do in order to begin conducting research. After one phone call to the psychology department though, he found himself hooked him up with a research opportunity in the new Behavioral Biology Lab on campus.
Here’s what Jalen had to say about his experience:
What were you studying?
Earthworms and crickets. I was mainly working with earthworms though. We were testing the effects of two stimuli (puffs of air and the bristles of a paint brush) on the worms. We were doing this to study habituation, or the effects that the stimuli had on the worms over time. What we wanted to find was that the reaction to the stimuli would go up and then gradually decrease over time.
What was it like getting to conduct real-world research?
It felt freeing. Although this was my first time conducting research, Dr. Browne trusted me to accurately run the experiments and document results, so I would say it was liberating.
What do you feel like you learned during your time volunteering in the lab?
Procedure. One of the main things I wanted to learn from Dr. Browne was how research actually worked and what the process looked like. I wanted to understand it, and now I do.
What would you say to other students who don’t know how to get started with undergraduate research?
I’d say go to Dr. Browne and Dr. Rodefer. Even if you aren’t studying psychology, those two will know who to point you toward according to your field of interest. And if you are in psychology (or a related field) and want experience with research, they are always looking for volunteers.
Why do you think undergraduate research is important?
It’s part of learning. We learn through trial and error, and that’s what research is. And if you’re interested in pursuing another degree, you will most likely be conducting research later on. So, to me, gaining experience with it now should be at the top of your list of things to do here at VSU.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I just want to let people know that this opportunity did not find me; I had to go out and find it. If you wait around for an opportunity to land in your lap, you’ll find yourself at graduation with no research experience. There are so many great opportunities and experts all around here at VSU, and at some point, you just have to ask questions and take action. You’ll be surprised at what you can actually do as an undergrad.