UCSB undergraduates established a blog earlier this school year featuring the ideas, experiments and findings of 11 student researchers.
The blog serves as a public outlet for research discoveries, progress and predicaments of students from various disciplines. The contributors are primarily composed of students chosen from the Early Undergraduate Research and Knowledge Acquisition program that focuses on the research experience of first and second-year researchers, as well as the McNair Scholars Program, which seeks the input of third and fourth-year researchers.
Zoe Swank, a third-year biochemistry major, said several research programs influenced her participation in the project.
“I participated in [Summer Institute for Math and Science] at UCSB before I started freshman year and the program introduced us to scientific research in college, teaching us how to get involved in doing research once we began school at UCSB,” Swank said. “I knew that I wanted to do research work after participating in S.I.M.S. so I got an internship through the E.U.R.E.K.A. program and they encouraged me to start blogging to share my research experience.”
Website creator Whitney Winn, research development analyst for UCSB’s office of research, said the blog was derived from a similar program called I.N.S.E.T. that also promotes the successes of undergrad researchers.
“I’m in charge of supporting campuswide undergraduate research so I wanted a new way to get the word out about undergraduate research at UCSB,” Winn said. “I’d seen similar blogs done at other schools and thought it would be fun to try here.”
Students contribute three or four posts every quarter on topics ranging from difficulties in finding a research mentor to juggling school work with research projects.
According to Alex Iteen, a second-year biology major, the student authors take turns posting new additions to the website.
“I write for the blog three times per quarter, which is just spread out enough to where I have something I think is interesting to write about,” Iteen said.
Additionally, Madison Cornwell, a second-year biochemistry and Spanish major, said the online forum is meant to encourage the campus community to take an interactive approach to academics.
“Writing for the UCSB undergraduate research blog is similar to writing an anonymous encouragement letter,” she said. “I hope that my entries reach out to other students struggling to balance a demanding class schedule, the impulse to work hard towards research discovery and the pull towards having a social life as well. I hope that by sharing my thoughts, frustrations and small steps forward, other students will not only realize that they are capable of making research a priority, but also that doing so will transform their college experience.”
Winn said the site will continue to accept new bloggers.
“UCSB is a research university so it’s a unique opportunity for students to get involved in the cutting-edge research that’s happening here,” Winn said. “We hope to continue the blog next year and will be looking for more contributors from all majors.”
To learn more about the blog or to read student researcher posts, visit ucsbundergradresearch.wordpress.com.