Throughout my time at Texas Tech I have enjoyed being involved in many things, but one of the most rewarding things I have done is participate in research. As a microbiology major this helped me determine what path I wanted to pursue - either research, medicine, or something else. I started off my journey into research in Dr. San Francisco’s seminars as a freshman (check out the honors weekly email for more information on these!) where we heard from a variety of Texas Tech faculty about their research projects and how we could get involved. Professors from the fields of chemistry, history, engineering, social studies and more discussed their fields, research possibilities, and invited students to participate in research. I began observing in Dr. San Francisco’s lab under Dr. Kruczek, and saw how the current undergraduate students conducted research, and I participated in weekly lab meetings with faculty members, graduate students and other undergraduate students. The summer following my freshman year I began officially working in Dr. San Francsico’s lab as an undergraduate research assistant through the URS program in the honors college. There are many similar programs such as CALUE and CISER that help students get plugged in with research. The new Pi-Squared program for incoming freshman is also an excellent way to introduce students to research.
Through research I have learned new skills in the lab and shaped the research project to fit what interests me as the project as grown with me and I have become one of the leaders on the project. My project is on the air microbiome of Lubbock, and specifically how the fungal species in the air effect our health, and how the weather effects the microbiome of Lubbock. Because the project has many aspects to it, I have learned skills that relate to atmospheric sciences, statistics, and data analysis. Every year in the spring the undergraduate researchers at Texas Tech present their project at the CALUE research conference. Students from other universities are also invited, and students have the opportunity to present their research at other conferences across the nation as well. Through this, we learn how to create a visual aid, typically a poster, that concisely portrays the data, graphs and text necessary to understand the project. We also practice speaking skills by having to present to the judges and answer their questions.
Research has been a very fun and fulfilling experience for me. I am currently writing my paper and will be able to publish it, hopefully by the end of this academic year. Participating in research has had a positive impact on my time at Tech as an undergrad, and has impacted the path I want to pursue in my career. I encourage everyone, regardless of major, to find something you are curious about or interested in and participate in research. Not only does it stand out on a resume, but you will also develop great skills and enjoy the experience.