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Ask Pinyu: How Do I Get Started in Research?

Hi! So I’m a current 8th grader (basically going into high school), and my school isn’t really a “research” focused school, which means there aren’t really any opportunities to do research. Do you have any tips on how to get started? My interests in potential research would be Biomed, CS, and Math (although the last one seems super hard to do). Thanks 🙂

Submitted by Anonymous

I’m so glad that you reached out – I definitely know what you mean by not having other students doing research at my school. There’s so much I have to say about research, and I’ve learned so much over the years I’ve been navigating this journey! But, to answer your question about finding the resources to do research, first of all, I just want to say that there are so, so many resources available out there, particularly in biology and computer science. If you’ve searched around, you’ve probably heard of horror stories from high schoolers talking about how they had to email hundreds of professors in order for one to even reply to them. For me, I emailed 9 professors, out of which, 6 of them replied, and I ended up getting 3 offers to join their lab. The professors at my local university are so incredible, and all the things I’ve done never would’ve been possible without them. I have a blog post on this as well if you want to check it out!

However, that’s not how I would recommend you get started. Rather, I got started in research simply by finding a problem that I was interested in, and reading a ton of scientific papers about it. I have to admit, I think I probably got the opportunities that I did because of the prior research that I did, where I had done an entire science fair project (albeit, a bad project) on the topic. The professors were more willing to take a chance on me because I had spent the past year learning everything I could about an obscure topic, so they knew I wouldn’t just lose interest and quit an internship halfway. I’d recommend this as well, especially since you do want to know if you truly love research. Research so much more than just being “the thing to do,” and it’s really different when you’re truly dedicated to it versus if you’re just doing it because you think you have to. The community within the world of student research is filled with some of the most genuine and passionate (also geeky) people that I know.

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