The Undergraduate Research Society partners with Delta Epsilon Mu to host an undergraduate research panel

Haddy Dardir, Contributing Writer

The Undergraduate Research Society (URS), and their Research Scholars Program (RSP), provides students events, resources and mentorship to assist them on their journey as undergraduate researchers. 

One of their events this semester, an undergraduate research panel, took place on Sunday, Oct. 9 in Thwing 101 from 3-4 p.m. Collaborating with Delta Epsilon Mu (DEM), Case Western Reserve University’s premiere pre-health fraternity, the goal of the event was to help current research scholars, rising scholars and others interested in research engage with current student researchers’ stories. The panelists were Jessica Rose Hervol, Nihal Manjila, Ani Muralidharan, Aarushi Deo, Kiley Urquhart, Adhvika Arunkumar, Muskan Sidhu, Claire Poulton, Soumyaa Das and Maggie Ginter-Frankovitch, an officer for DEM who helped organize the event. 

Overall, the event was a success; Thwing 101 was packed with students of different backgrounds and research interests. Throughout the hour, the panelists held students’ attention and several students in the audience asked questions. One audience member even gave his experience in research by stating the importance of interacting with professors when looking for opportunities.

Along with Ginter-Frankovitch, RSP co-directors Abraham Nidhiry and Santosh Hanumanthu  helped lead the event by asking the panelists questions such as, “How did you go about finding research?” “How do you identify red vs. green flags in a lab?” and “What is most surprising or challenging about research?” 

Every panelist gave answers based on individual experiences. For example, one panelist responded by saying that students should “always be willing to apply to unique research opportunities because you never know what you’re gonna get,” after recounting his experience in a pharmacology lab. Similarly, when asked about conducting research when on the pre-med track, another panelist described her own lab experience, during which she found, “if you’re working with patients, you need to be able to gain their trust.” 

Although every panelist’s story was unique, some core pieces of advice were repeated by multiple panelists throughout the event. These included “do what you’re interested in,” “advocate for yourself” and “if you work with the right people, you’ll feel supported.” 

The event was designed for students interested in pursuing research, helping people find their path by providing examples of successful student researchers. When asked about the importance of the student panelists, panelist Nidhiry replied by saying, “Personally, I think they’re a good way for people to get a different side of a perspective because a lot of people see research from ‘you get this opportunity to do this type of science to add to your resume.’ But this kind of event gave a perspective on lab culture and how it feels to go up to a mentor.”

Despite its significant role in facilitating undergraduate research endeavors, URS wasn’t the first organization that came up with the idea to organize this event; it was DEM that reached out first. “They are the pre-health undergraduate fraternity on campus, so they are more research-inclined and thought we would be the perfect group to collaborate with,” Hanumanthu said. 

Research is not just about the natural sciences, and this was indicated by several of the student panelists, as they also spoke of their experience in dry labs and in research groups based in medical humanities. “I think this event is very valuable just to see what type of research students are doing. Not just for what’s part of their lab, but how others can get involved and apply for projects,” Hanumanthu stated. “And I personally think that it’s great exposure to hear from a diverse group of people that research isn’t just all about biology or chemistry; we have a wide variety of disciplines you can participate in. We don’t tend to hear about the non-STEM areas of research, but it’s just as prominent on campus. It’s important for all disciplines.”

Comparing their past experiences with the resources available to students now, the co-directors also explained how different their first year was from the incoming students. “Our freshman year, it was all on Zoom, so we didn’t really have many of these types of events. Getting to meet people was hard too,” Hanumanthu said. 

With CWRU being back in person, many more resources are available to those interested in research. 

Regarding the future of the RSP, Nidhiry has high hopes, especially regarding collaborations with the Support of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (SOURCE). “For this month, we plan to reach out to SOURCE for some of the events they’re hosting, and they’ll apply to both research and rising scholars. We also have some of the events planned for November. For our diversity panel coming up in November, there’ll be a faculty member speaking.”

As long as there are students interested in pursuing research, there will be supplemental events such as those organized by SOURCE and URS to help students explore their interests. Without the resources provided by events such as the research panel, many great minds would get overwhelmed by the large sea of knowledge and website links that accompany the process of finding a research position. When asked about why a program such as the RSP even exists when students can just email professors, Hanumanthu replied by saying, “We believe this program gives more of a structure.” Nidhiry added, “We just wanna give an undergraduate perspective on getting research.”