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Ashley Cunningham

To be honest, there are thousands of opportunities for research you are only limited by your interests. Try to determine what your passion is; sometimes you have to take a few science classes to really feel inspired by something. I will offer my personal experience so you can get an idea of what I am talking about:

When I was in elementary school I became fascinated with microscopes and took samples from around my house to look at with my cheap little scope. By junior high I had decided that I wanted to be a forensic pathologist and stuck with that through my first two years of college. I went as far as to study for the MCATs to apply to medical school. In my junior year of my undergrad course work, I had a microbiology class with one of the best professors I have ever had. He inspired me to completely change directions and by my senior year I was working part-time as a lab tech in a microbiology laboratory. Now almost 7 years later I am doing microbial research for one of the largest processed food suppliers in the US.

So, as you can see, your inspiration may take time to find you, but when it does you will know. My suggestion to you is to try and figure out what you like about science and research. There are some great journals you can subscribe to, in fact I would go so far as to suggest to sign up as a student member for the American Society for the Advancement of Science (AAAS- just type that into google). They will send you Science magazine twice a month which has journal articles of break through research projects.

To reiterate, find what you are passionate about. It’s best to enjoy the work you do because that’s what makes it worth your time (in research at least).

Some examples:

-If you like animals, which ones? Let’s say you like fish and you like to swim… marine biology offers many studies where you can track schools of fish and perform population studies.

-Perhaps you like to farm or you like bugs. Agronomy research is really big in the Midwest, especially in corn and soybean production. There are many opportunities to perform genetic research or botany or entomology/pesticides.

-Maybe you prefer chemistry. Pharmaceutical companies are huge avenues for chemical research to discover new drugs or new formulations. In addition, you may find that you like clinical trials where you can do research in that application.

As a forewarning, research takes a lot of time, most of which is reading journal articles or preparing, writing grant proposals and writing reports (it depends on what you do). Collecting data is by far the most exciting, but it only equates to 5-15% of your work time (industry depending). Also, as another note, keep in mind that not every researcher discovers something new or gets recognition for their work, actually it’s maybe 0.5% of individuals (if that).

I wish you the best of luck and hopefully I could help!

Answered 2 years ago

Ashley Cunningham