Student Quotes from Research Streams
Typical comments. Here 82 students tell you what they got out of the spring research stream course.
"From being in a lab for two days a week (sometimes more), I was able to see what it was like to work and study in a real laboratory setting. The nature of the class allowed for some feeling of freedom, yet I never felt as if I was going into an exercise completely blind, and the instructors always prepared me well. I also knew I could always ask questions whenever I was unsure about something, and that the instructors would be helpful and receptive."
"Originally I didn't expect to understand a lot of the information because I didn't have much of a background in microbiology; however, this program was great at guiding, teaching, and explaining many of the lab techniques and concepts. The lecture portion of this class was great at teaching us the theory behind many concepts and the lab portion helped put the theories into context. The combination of both the labs and lectures definitely helped me better understand concepts that were difficult to grasp."
"Working in the lab taught me techniques used by microbiologists and researchers. I gained knowledge about growth of biofilms, how they react to treatments of antibiotics, and how certain mutations can affect the formation of mature biofilms. All of the small thing in biofilms, even the littlest things, can play a big role in possibly learning a way to lessen biofilms resistance to antibiotics, which is the main problem when dealing with these organisms."
"This semester helped me grow substantially as a lab student and has really spiked my interest in microbiology. More so than any other biology course I have ever taken, this class made me think analytically about what goes on at a microscopic level in the universe and how life is able to interact."
"I had never been in a lab like the one that was used this semester. I remember how shocked I was seeing all the brand new equipment and so many different machines and tools I had never used before. But by the end of the class I felt much more comfortable in the lab and I also feel like I know what almost every piece of equipment in the lab does and I feel I can operate many of them on my own as well, which is a huge confidence boost and is something I think I'll take forward to the rest of my time in school. The lab experience was without a doubt the most invaluable tool I'll take away from this semester."
"The lab also reinforced the importance of working with others; with many of the procedures, it was important to effectively work with a lab partner and know how to help one another. And with certain procedures, it was important to be able to cooperate with an entire lab, like setting up reactors, loading DNA gels, and sharing materials. I definitely developed my skills in working with a partner and large groups."
"The labs in this class has been more engaging than the labs for any other science class, honestly the class overall has been the most interesting science class I have ever taken. There were days when we were lab up to an hour after and times when we had to come into lab on the weekend and I honestly was never upset over it. "
"One aspect of the class I really enjoyed in relation to my development of laboratory skills was the way the skills were integrated into the successive exercises. One exercise would introduce a skill and then the following exercise would integrate that skill. This continuous process of introduction and integration served as an excellent method of reinforcing both basic and complex ideas."
"We have experienced the reality that experiments do not always work out as planned and sometimes multiple tries are needed to find the right results. However, even these minor setbacks offered us the chance to learn how to find our error and make sure we do not repeat it in the future."
"In the beginning of this semester, I was nervous to be thrown into a research setting. I had never done anything pertaining to research previously and I didn't know what to expect. By the end of this semester, I am very thankful for the skills that I have gained from a semester in the lab, and I am excited to see the results of the proposal at the end of next semester."
"This course has also taught me the significance of being as accurate and precise as possible, but at the same time, not getting discouraged when something doesn't work on the first try. In research and professional careers, there will most likely be unsuccessful results, but it is important to mentally work through the problem and try again."
"In the beginning of the semester I was not very confident in the lab. I would ask questions about many of the steps in the exercises and I did not feel comfortable inoculating or pipetting. By the end of the semester I grew much more independent and I felt I could easily perform many different tasks in the lab, including inoculating, pipetting, loading gels and working aseptically. I did not have to ask as many questions, I knew where all of the instruments I needed were located, and I knew when to perform different tasks, such as vortexing, or mixing by pipetting. I also was able to work much quicker. I realized that these skills carried over to my chemistry lab class, and I felt much more comfortable in that lab as well."
"Between the lab experiments, discussions and lecture, this course helped my personal growth in that it challenged me with thought provoking concepts and methods of research that encouraged me to maintain an analytical mindset while completing assignments. Additionally, this semester allowed me to become more comfortable and confident in the laboratory setting through practice."
"Not only did I grow in a professional manner, but also in that of a personal manner. Truly, being in the program, my confidence has gone up. Before this class, I had a huge fear of expressing my ideas in class, because I always feared they could be wrong. And now, I feel comfortable expressing my ideas to colleagues, for mistakes are a part of the learning process."
From Biomedical Chemistry
“Throughout this semester I feel I have grown a lot as a scientist and a researcher. I had previous experience in a research lab, so when I began this course I had basic knowledge of how to use a pipette, centrifuge, and other lab equipment. However, when I was in a lab over the summer, I seldom knew what was going on, or even what questions to ask in order to learn what was taking place. This semester I learned a lot about asking the right questions, both in research and any other classes. Asking questions is a critical skill for obtaining knowledge in any field.”
“I learned about what site directed mutagenesis entails and how it works, and I also gained experience using numerous types of lab equipment including pipettes, thermocyclers, centrifuges, and several others. During this portion of the semester, I was also introduced to new methods and procedures. Several of the procedures I am now familiar with include transforming plasmids into bacteria cells, inoculating bacteria colonies, purifying plasmids, and transfecting plasmids into Human Embryonic Kidney cells.”
“In addition, before this semester I didn’t know any proper lab techniques and I was nervous during the first few weeks in the lab since I felt overwhelmed by all the equipment and procedures involved in the lab. However, now I am able to work confidently in a lab knowing I am following all proper lab techniques and procedures.”
“It was very helpful how we repeated each technique we learned multiple times, which furthered my understanding of both what we were doing and how that pertained to the overall research project.”
“We were allowed more freedom in our lab work as opposed to other lab courses that I take here at Binghamton. Although we are given proper instruction, we are allowed a greater level of autonomy which has made me more comfortable in a lab setting and more confident in my work.”
“I have learned to be more thorough inside the lab by making my best efforts to be organized while conducting experiments such that I plan out my course of action before the experiment by writing out the experiment’s procedure and I keep my workspace clear to keep myself working efficiently and minimizing error in the results. This thoroughness was also learned through keeping a lab notebook making sure it was up to date.”
“All of these news skills and knowledge have definitely helped me grow as an individual, a thinker, and a scientist. There have been connections to my other classes this semester that have defined interdisciplinary learning facilitating big picture understanding of course material. The basic amino acids and DNA central dogma from BMC I helped me understand the mechanisms of peptide and nucleic acid polymerization in Organic Chemistry II.”
“It definitely made it easier that we had a research team, as I know that I would have not been able to formulate such a well thought out proposal without them. By bouncing ideas and our own findings off of each other, we were able to counteract loopholes in our experiment and create a meaningful research proposal. I realized how crucial working as a team is, and I learned to appreciate teamwork rather than loathe it, as I used to in high school.”
“I learned about several aspects of biomedical chemistry, focusing on glutamate transporters and oxidative stress, along with being taught proper lab conduct, including the importance of safety in the lab. In learning about glutamate transporters, I learned the process of creating a point mutation through Site Directed Mutagenesis, including learning about the science behind each process within the SDM. I learned how to transfect a foreign plasmid into a mammalian cell, and how to make sure that these cells remained healthy during the process.”
“Second semester was different from first semester in the sense that everyone in the program was more acquainted with each other and our mentors. This made a great sense of community in the lab, considering we were around each other a minimum of 8 hours a week. Team work was much easier than it was first semester because we were all well aware of our responsibilities and needed each other’s help to fully comprehend the content. Working in a group of highly motivated individuals helped me to try my best. Being able to help my teammates, while at the same time looking to them for help, taught me many lessons in teamwork and helped me grow as a researcher.”
“The course successfully explained all the processes before-hand so we were never performing a procedure in which we didn’t understand its importance or why we were doing it. However, as students in the lab we were given enough liberty to be able to develop personal skills. I learned about and carried out many different and interesting procedures like transfection and transformation as well as purification and microscopy.”
“We created a semester-long experiment that built upon the scientific knowledge of oxidative stress and a drug that we performed additional research upon, the drug being caffeine. Through the trials and tribulations of the experimental design process, we learned how to cope with success and failure, as it took multiple attempts to get a part of the proposal approved. As we built this experiment as a team, we successfully used what we learned in HARP 170 to distribute work amongst our team to optimize our research timetable.”
“But I think the most I got out of the course was experiencing (and therefore learning) how to get to the research proposal. How to come from a bunch of insights and form a topic and then be able to link that topic to other relevant ones to expand the importance of the research. The cooperation of the team made it better to handle what would otherwise be an already overwhelming project.”
“A very significant skill that I have learned to do this semester is come up with a research proposal. I have learned to dig through literature and find a specific question, then relate it to the big picture and its importance. Although you may start with an idea to research, you may have to change directions after digging through the literature.”
“Lastly, I learned the importance of time management. Although one or two assignments at once don’t mean much on its’ own, a couple of assignments from 4 or more classes add up. This class reminded me how important it is to budget my time, a skill that I will use long after this class.”
“Lastly, I would say I have matured as a result of this course, as I was a bit naïve about how important and exciting being a part of FRI truly was before this semester. Before this class, I wasn’t fully aware how cutting edge and exciting performing these experiments was. However, now, after preparing our research proposal and learning various experimental techniques throughout the semester, I now understand how amazing this opportunity truly is.”
“By conducting our own experiments as a class, I was able to gain important and necessary laboratory skills. I was introduced to new machinery and new techniques (such as centrifuges, pipetting, keeping the work area sterile, properly throwing out waste, how to follow specific manufacturer protocols, lab safety, etc.) that will help me continue to be successful in my research journey.”
“Due to my improvement in lab skills, reading scientific articles, writing in a scientific format, and speaking about science in front of a group of people, I can easily conclude that this course was very beneficial to me and my future goals.”
“This semester I firmly believe I grew as a scientist, team member, and a researcher. Throughout the semester, I was given hands on authentic research experience which is practically unheard of for a college freshman. This opportunity has taught me the nuts and bolts of actual research including the tedious and repetitive nature. I also learned to accept that not every experiment will work the first time.”
“The main part of the course that I truly loved involved the experimentation that occurred and the use of the state of art technology in the lab was incredible. The ability to conduct genuine research as a freshman is truly special. Not only was the use of this equipment quite interesting, but I grew in the teamwork/teambuilding that was introduced to us in HARP 170. We conducted “group meetings” like the ones that occur in true research labs.”
“This course vastly helped me improve my background knowledge of biology, scientific writing, and my professionalism and leadership skills. Similar to last semester, the course once again stressed the importance of collaboration. Finally, creating a proposal with my team for next semester was especially fulfilling; especially after presenting our proposal to various faculty members and peers, I recognize that this course offered a fantastic opportunity to conduct original research.”
“My own personal growth over this semester included continuing my skills in communication and presentation skills because of the presentations of research and my proposal, as well as communication with my team. Emphasis in this skill really began last semester, but after this semester, I feel even more confident relating my ideas to other people effectively, such as professors, group members, and random people interested in what I am doing, both in speaking and writing.”
“This research experience allowed me to improve my skills in a variety of ways. I had the opportunity to perform cutting-edge research with other talented and resilient individuals and learned to master different laboratory techniques, such as site-directed mutagenesis and fluorescence microscopy. There were times when our experiments were unsuccessfully performed due to certain errors and failed to produce the expected results; however, we worked together to evaluate the obtained data values and predicted the potential causes. Working as part of a team was an essential part of our research, as we learned to collaborate with each other to investigate our topic of interest.”
“The skills I have acquired during this semester have given me the ability to better understand the scientific process. The new lab techniques and improved scientific writing will allow me to succeed in new, different settings such as other labs.”
“FRI helped me realize that I like conducting research because it makes me feel like something that I am doing is making a difference in the world.”
“My ability to engage in teamwork, my ability to write scientifically, and even my ability to present my work and speak publicly, even to faculty (which can definitely be intimidating) have improved. Overall, I believe that I have benefited a lot from taking this class, and I would recommend it highly to anyone who is chosen for it.”
From Image & Acoustic Signal Analysis
"This research class is unique in that it encourages self learning. It’s not for everyone but I personally am more motivated to learn and actually retain more of what I learn if I am not restricted by expectations of what I am expected to learn, by when, and then do however well the letter grade A constitutes. The freedom and flexibility of the IASA stream is also much appreciated."
"Having access to a professional research lab was also a big change from the first semester to the second. Being given the responsibility to have access to a lab and use it in a professional way was a first for me. Having the power to go into the lab at any hour of the day, alone, really was an interesting experience."
“It helped me become a better scientific writer and informed me that research is performed and documented in a specific way so that it is easier for every researcher to use and reference. Now, when I look at a research proposal, scientific article, or scholarly source, I will be better equipped with the essential tools needed to analyze them.”
"Through our extensive work in the lab, I’ve learned much about hardware, software, and coding, despite the previous experience I had as a computer science major. Since our focus was computer vision, it was only natural for me to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the workings of the cameras and sensors in the laboratory that we would use. This semester also introduced me to databases and various image analysis tools, such as OpenCV and Microsoft Visual Studio, that are integral to research in the field of computer vision. One of my favorite aspects of the course was that it introduced us to coding in C++."
"This course has also provided me with valuable hands on experience with devices that will be useful in future research both next semester and maybe beyond. I was able to spend a lot of lab time fiddling with the Leap Motion and finding out exactly how it works and what it can be used for. In this process, I began thinking of different features that the Leap could be used to identify and various ways to combine the data from the Leap and the Kinect. Along the way, I also learned the basics of opencv and linear algebra, both useful skills that I will be able to use in future research in the field or later in my career."
"In order to complete the class’s coding assignments, I had to learn how to methodically approach the debugging process instead of automatically giving up whenever my code doesn’t compile. This entailed finding the exact parts of my code that were preventing it from compiling and researching these issues on websites such as cplusplus.com. Similarly, instead of automatically assuming a line of math detailed in a research paper is too complicated to understand, I developed throughout the semester a capacity to attempt to break down math formulas into digestible components and look up whatever is still confusing me after doing so."
"Learning how to use the library OpenCV was also great. Using such a powerful library was fascinating, but also just learning how to work with an external library as such was wonderful for me. In addition, the assignments were great! I thought that they fit well with my programming knowledge level, and they were also a lot of fun."
"Additionally, I learned how to write a research proposal; I am confident that I will need to use this skill in the future. The process through which we wrote the papers was very effective. I liked how we wrote the paper section by section, and received in-depth feedback on each section. This really allowed me to fix and improve my writing. Without that specific feedback, I would not have learned what I was doing wrong with my proposal."
"Prior to this class, when a teacher mentioned the term “research paper”, I would immediately think of a five page double spaced summary of a collection of Wikipedia articles in which I would cite several random sources in MLA format. When I was first exposed to “real” research papers, I was utterly baffled by the jargon and complex formulas that looked more like Greek writing than mathematics. However as I came into an increasing amount of research papers, I gradually began to understand them. As I started to write my own research paper, I was impressed with the professionalism that came with writing the papers and citing all of my sources. Gone were the days of citing random sources that I never used. I can genuinely say that of all the writing that I’ve done during my two semesters at Binghamton thus far, I am most proud of my proposal for this class."
"Writing a research proposal has made each of us individually better scientific writers, being able to put complex ideas and methods into our own words. While taking information from several different sources, it is vital to understand the context of other researchers’ work, so we are forced to derive the key concepts and how they can be implemented into our hypothesis. Our proposals also gave us a creative outlet, being able to come up with ways to challenge our hypothesis and think of different methods to verify it. As a result, our papers reflect our expansion of scientific thought and how we plan to implement our methods next semester."
"While writing my proposal, I learned the importance of proof reading and double checking sources in order to be sure that cited facts are relevant and correct. I also learned to pace myself while writing longer papers. I would not have been able to complete the whole paper if I had waited until the day it was due. I had to first make sure that I had enough information by doing research. Then I had to sit down and write the section I was working on. After I had finished, I would then have to do my proofreading. If I had waited until the night before the paper was due, I never would have been able to complete all of that work and produce a piece of work that I was proud of."
"I feel by writing the proposal my science writing has improved. The way the proposal was spaced throughout the last few weeks was done very well. The weekly sections of writing the proposal forced me to do something towards the proposal each week, which is good because if it was a big assignment all at once I would of most likely waited to the last minute."
"Through the work done with my team, I have realized that I truly enjoy working with other people much more than working on my own. I like hearing other people’s ideas and getting feedback on my work from my teammates. I think that often times working in teams is much more productive and results in a better work product. FRI has allowed me to come to realize that I would like a job in which teamwork is an important aspect."
"I became aware of several different communication styles, many of which are not completely forward or direct and consequently may convey contradictory messages. I became sensitive to these nearly imperceptible, yet significant details, making sure to let my logic and reasoning take precedence over my emotions in interpreting others’ messages. It was also important for me to reformulate my idea of “leadership.” In team settings, there is very rarely a defined leader and when he or she is present in this role, it is meant to be a temporary position. It isn’t necessary to have a team leader (a sort of oxymoron) simply because each team member can perform the duties of a leader providing motivation, suggesting edits to a presentation, and taking on individual responsibilities."
"This semester of Freshman Research Immersion also allowed me to practice group leadership and cooperation on a common project. While each of our proposals was separate, they all detailed the same project. Everyone needed to collaborate to write informed proposals. Our team enjoyed sharing ideas, articles, and early mornings with one another. Not only do I now have new personal connections with the members of my team, but I also have more experience working together on a team, and forming these meaningful bonds."
"Overall the FRI program is an invaluable experience that looks great on a resume for a freshman to have research experience and is very educational on the research process."
"The vast amount of tools at our disposable in both wet lab and rat lab astonished me. I couldn't believe all the resources we got to use and how much we could learn from everything we had. We got to perform a variety of both cognitive and motor tests. I have come to understand that many grad students don't even get to do what we did. I also enjoyed the time in wet lab learning about HPLC and staining the brain tissue. These types of things far exceeded my expectations for the class."
"Previously, I had only a general idea of how research was conducted. In doing it myself, however, I've come to see that it is no simple feat, as detailed planning and literature research are needed in determining the methodology, conducting the various tests, and in analyzing the data."
"Prior to my experiences in FRI, I had no lab experience. I had never performed experiments in a real laboratory setting, nor worked with live animals, and never presented my findings. In this semester alone, I have worked with rats in the lab, and presented a poster at Psi Chi. I never expected to learn as much as I did during my time in this class, as I now have knowledge about the brain and Parkinson's disease I did not have before."
"Professionally, this course has increased my competency in both reading and writing about scientific articles. Before college I would occasionally look into the scientific literature of topics I was interested in, but usually I was out of my depth in understanding the more complex scientific testing and mechanisms. Now I feel fully confident in my ability to explore various fields and eventually come to an understanding of what exactly is causing results."
"The experience I gained during this semester in terms of learning how to test and handle the animals is going to stay with me forever. I will definitely have an upper hand when applying to work in a professor's lab in the spring of 2016 because I'll have had hands on experience that very few, if any,freshman get."
"I also learned about how to analyze large sets of data along with how to infer and find significance in it the data and the research that we have done. I also learned how to effectively compile the data into appealing charts and how to write effective and correct figure captions."
"I learned how to manage and analyze scientific data gathered through research. This is perhaps the most fundamental skill I gained this semester because I will be able to take this knowledge with me into any lab I hope to work in and will be able to carry my own weight in that lab. Data management and analysis is something that every researcher needs to know how to do and I already have experience with it through this program."
"This course taught me how to efficiently read, understand, and interpret an article from a scientific journal and be able to extract the important information from it to help me with my own studies."
"I now have an understanding of the structure of scientific writing. I can make sense of complex readings that a semester ago would have baffled me."
"Another aspect of this semester was the extensive amount of group work that had to be done. My group mates and I had to figure out a system that would evenly divide the testing and graphing throughout the semester. My group mates and I were able to work very well together. I normally like to be independent when working on assignments, so I definitely learned a lot about dividing responsibility and how to effectively work with others."
"What is also so great about this program is that we got to take yet even another step further. After looking at what we did this past semester, we got to decide what might be good to do next, and we actually got to choose our own topic. This was great experience in my opinion, because we had to do our own background research on a topic of our choice and also plan out what we were going to do, and then get even more research paper writing experience by drafting a proposal of what we would do next semester."
"One very rewarding experience was the poster session at the University Research days. This was the first time that I was presenting information to an audience that had more knowledge of the subject than I did. I also appreciated the fact that we got valuable face time with esteemed faculty that were all very accomplished in the field of neuroscience."
"The experiences I have gotten thus far in the FRI program will be instrumental in the coming semesters when it comes time to apply for positions in professors' labs. I have always planned on working on research at some point and this program has greatly enhanced my chances of doing so. It has given me a wide range of applicable skills that I otherwise would not have been able to put on my resume, therefore giving me a great advantage over others I may be competing against."
"The most difficult challenge was probably the proposal, but it was also the one that most resembled 'real' science. Science isn't always fun and the proposal highlighted the legwork behind the creation of every study and experiment. Leadership and teamwork also both had a role. It forced us to consider others' viewpoints, opinions, and knowledge and work toward a common project idea that would appeal to everyone while also being feasible."
"Doing the research proposals, data write-up, and presenting at research days in particular really gave me exposure into what being in research is really about. Taking this class, I know that research is something I would definitely love to look into in the future."
"It's so satisfying to know that even though I'm a younger college student I can still be benefiting society and making a difference with the things I'm doing right now through this program. I am so excited to start our research next semester and continue learning and growing as a budding new scientist."
"As a professional in the sciences, you must have a full grasp on your work so that you can explain it to others confidently. Through this class, I have learned how to eloquently and effectively explain my research. This became obvious to me at the research days presentation when I was able to respond to questions clearly and in terms appropriate for both professionals and laypeople. Furthermore, this course has taught me how to better work with team members to achieve a common goal. Cooperating with as many peers and faculty as we did can be challenging at times, but the improvement in interpersonal skills that we were ultimately rewarded with is unmatched by what any other program can offer."
From Smart Energy
"This semester I professionally grew as a speaker and as a writer in class. I honed my oral presentation skills in front of my peers. I also learned how to write a professional and scientifically accurate lab report as well as a research proposal. I conveyed my thoughts in an accurate and articulate manner to my peers and to the research educator. I was put into positions where I had to ask intelligent questions to people exceptionally knowledgeable in their respective fields."
"I think this class has definitely given me a firm foundation for success in the future not only in advanced level classes, by instilling me with a good work ethic and introducing me early to a challenging work load, but also for working in a lab. It has also allowed me to network with important professors and researchers at the university which will hopefully afford me many opportunities in the future. I feel that taking this class as freshmen has truly set this group of students apart from the rest of those in our field and I am very grateful for this opportunity."
"Before I took this class, the only experience I had in a lab was intro chemistry labs, which were boring and tedious. The Freshman Research Immersion program, however, showed me what conducting research in a lab is really like. Using equipment that most students don't use until their junior year was fascinating. Not only did I learn about chemistry, physics and research; I also learned how to write a technical report."
"The best part of the whole lab, for me anyway, was that we didn't know if what we did would actually work and I felt as if I was actually doing something important because I didn't know what the outcome would be. That made the whole experience much different from regular in-class labs because there you are told what should be happening which doesn't happen in real life. So when the experiment was done and we had to test our PEDOT and we saw that it was conductive it made the experience really gratifying."
"This course is definitely one that anyone considering a career in research should take because it allows the students to get into the lab and do actual hands-on research in the freshman year. This way, those considering research do not have to wait until junior year to realize that maybe that is not exactly what they want to do. In addition, it also provides a way of possibly transitioning into a research group in the sophomore year for those students who wish to pursue research beyond the course. To conclude, this course is an excellent opportunity, and a great way to provide students with the experience they should receive before their third year of college."
"One last thing I gained from this class was that I should always do things after learning the big picture. I need to always remember what is the bigger importance on a global scale and how my work in the world could influence others in a more broader aspect. This class made me grow in more than one way and I am super glad I took it!"
"In the lab we learned many different laboratory procedures and techniques that allowed me to get a taste of what research is about. Not only were we conducting experiments in a lab setting but we were essentially pioneering some new research areas that have only recently been explored, which I found amazing and pretty inspiring especially for next semester's class."
"I had no real desire to read any scientific literature because I didn't really know what to look up or how to read the literature. Now that I have been through the first year of the course, I can read through a study or review with relative ease and feel light years ahead of what I would have been in (terms of my ability to understand complicated studies), had I not been through the program. I really value this ability because now I have the opportunity to never be "out of the loop" in terms of cutting edge science that matters to me, and possibly my career."
"Once again, a lot of focus was placed on working successfully in groups. The groups were smaller this semester than last semester, so it was a slightly different experience. Also, the sort of collaborative work we did was different. Rather than relying on each other to complete separate pieces of a larger project, we were each writing separate module reports. However, we would still work together to ensure that we all understood the research we had performed and the significance of the area we were studying."