Research Opportunities in Unexpected Places

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When I first came to Iowa State University of Science and Technology, I had heard that it is an important research institution, but I didn’t really know what that meant. Of course I pictured the typical scientists in white lab coats with test tubes who were working on curing the nation’s diseases. Thinking about it this way I never imagined working with professors on any research during my time at Iowa State. Little did I know I would have the opportunity to work on research directly related to my interests starting my very first semester!

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences houses research opportunities in all sorts of academic areas. There are five signature themes that comprise many of the subjects of research through the college, those being: biological structures and systems, complex materials, data-rich environments, economic, environmental and societal sustainability, and global citizens, education and technology. So even though my interests lie outside of the natural sciences, since I am specifically a Psychology major and pre-law, I was still able to find a research topic I wanted to get involved with.

In my first Psychology class at Iowa State, Social Psychology, we were told about the need for Research Assistants for some of the Psychology professors. I applied to assist Dr. Madon and Dr. Guyll with their research in the area of Psychology and Law and it has benefited me immensely.

I have now been in their lab for three semesters and have become more interested in issues in the legal system as well as the impact psychological research can have on them. In addition, I have gained valuable skills in conducting research involving student participants and writing reports on the findings. I even get to wear a white lab coat when conducting experiments on participants!

I strongly recommend looking into what opportunities there are for research in your areas of interest. It is another great way to get to know some of the professors on campus, other than in class and during their office hours. You never know when you might need another letter of recommendation!

Posted by: Carly Crist