September 6, 2011

So You Want to Do Research?

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Let’s start there. Do you, REALLY, want to do research? Or do you happen to want to because everyone’s telling you you should? That’s an important question. Because research is not your easy-as-pie, three-point-essay-and-I’m-done kind of thing. It will probably break your soul to limits you never thought possible. You will have dreams, and nightmares, about it. You will wish at times that you never got into it. All of your friends will know about it, sometimes to nauseating extents. And if you’re serious about it, it’s a big commitment. So start there.That said, half of the time it is exactly because of these things that research is worth it. If you happen to love what you’re researching, well, all of the above still apply, but for some masochistic reason you tend to love it.Finding the right research project for you may be harder than finding your soulmate, but at the same time, finding the right research may give you as much satisfaction as anything else in your life that’s worthwhile (Yes, the research can be that good. And so can the life partner. Set your stakes high, please. Both of them are out there, I promise).Since I jumped around in labs for the entirety of my undergraduate years and I’m still in one, here’s whatever little advice I can give you to make your research matchmaking experience as easy on your heart and soul as possible (of course, it’s non-comprehensive, and it’s only my take on it. It’s also mostly lab-based, not humanities based, though a lot of it applies to both; so take it with a grain of salt):

Florencia Ulloa ’11 is a research assistant in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior.She may be reached at fulloa@cornellsun.com. Innocent Bystander appears periodically this semester.