Exploring What Undergraduate Research Has to Offer

By: Tahirah Siddiqui
Photo provided by Jasmine James

Jasmine James, is a senior from Charlotte, N.C., majoring in psychology and minoring in both Africana Studies and Women and Gender Studies.

Jasmine spent her summer participating in exciting research programs at both NC State and the University of Michigan. During the summer she continued her work on a pair of research projects, one of which focuses on improving academic retention within STEM fields, primarily for underrepresented students; while the other project looks at how body satisfaction affects the friendships people form with one another. Jasmine recently sat down to discuss her experience with her projects and undergraduate research as a whole. 

As a sophomore, Jasmine stumbled upon the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) while searching for a job on campus. She decided to apply for a research assistant job and was accepted to the position. “I wanted to learn what research was,” explained Jasmine. Since then, the senior notes her time working in undergraduate research has really helped to elevate her college experience.

“I wanted to learn what research was.”

Early on in her academic career, Jasmine admits she was unsure what research would even look like in a social science field; however, she notes her time with the OUR and particularly her work with her mentor, Karen Young, a teaching assistant professor in the College of Humanities and Social Science, has opened her up to a number of exciting opportunities. “Dr. Young has always been receptive to my ideas and helps to guide me along throughout the research process. She’s been one of my biggest supporters ever since that first day when I stepped into her office.” Jasmine explained, research experience has helped her to better understand how broad the field of psychology is and she feels she now has a better idea of where she would like to focus within the field. “I’ve been able to go explore what the world has to offer by traveling to various conferences and presenting my research.”

“Dr. Young has always been receptive to my ideas…”

Jasmine advises other students who may be interested in getting involved in undergraduate research to not give up. She would also like to encourage students to explore all the connections an undergraduate research experience may provide, such as meeting interesting people, exploring new issues, and learning new information. “You will meet so many great people through research. People who are interested in what you are researching and what you have to say about it. Those people will also challenge you to switch things up, and will even give you ideas you may have never thought about.”  

For students interested in learning more about the undergraduate research process Jasmine encourages them to attend the OUR Annual Undergraduate Research Speed Networking event being held on October 2, 2019, in the Talley Student Union Ballroom (registration to attend is recommended). She notes it is a quick and fun way to get connected with other people interested in research and to learn more about some of the exciting work being done across campus. For students interested in working with the Office of Undergraduate Research, please check out their website for more information.