Exploring the possibilities of scientific research


The new STEM building on campus is representative of the university’s state of constant discovery. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus)

The Research column will be a weekly feature on the scientific opportunities on campus written by staff writer Diler Haji.

The semester has begun, students are back and classes are in motion. What seemed to be a relatively desolate campus over the summer has turned into a nation of learners and doers, but do not let looks fool you. The University of Connecticut is always in constant discovery. 

Science is happening everywhere. 

It’s in the labs lining hallways covered by scientific posters in the pharmacy building, in the material science building where tiny pieces of stuff are tested for their strength, and in the greenhouses where life is flourishing under observant eyes. 

The University is a science behemoth turning with the help of undergraduate and graduates alike, collaborators across the country or in other countries and professors who themselves have done extraordinary things in almost every field. 

While it may sound like an institutional advertisement, this is more of a call to students to take advantage of the possibilities. After all, UConn is a research institution and while classes, clubs and parties may be more of a priority, the legacy a student can leave behind with research is undying.

With that said, science is as frustratingly tedious as it is rewarding. Science is slow, despite the speed at which we as humans continue to discover and invent. There is a quality to science because it changes what we fundamentally know about the world. Any scientist or student involved in science will tell you that for every question that comes close to being answered, there are hundreds that pop up, kind of like a game of wack-a-mole. 

This, of course, does not leave a very good impression: to endlessly wack moles trying to answer scientific questions. This is one reason why science isn’t for everyone, but it could be for those looking to contribute to knowledge, which in the end powers our society. 

This is the wheel in constant motion; a wheel that students at UConn have the advantage of helping to accelerate. There seems to always be space somewhere, whether it be in a professor’s lab or a facility on campus, for a student to dive into scientific research. Students just have to send an email, stop by an office or approach a professor after lecture. A simple gesture could lead to life changing results.

My own experiences started late as a junior when I forgot to blink while staring at a set of lecture slides in my evolutionary biology class. I forgot to blink because I was interested in what I was looking at.

The professor talked about periodical cicadas, a mysterious group of organisms that live in the ground for the same amount of time that passes between our first birthdays and our first college applications, only to come out by the millions to mate for a few weeks. 

Of course I would be interested. I went up to this professor after class and asked for a meeting to talk about research. The wheel began to spin from there.

Diler Haji is a staff writer for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at diler.haji@uconn.edu.

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