This morning started off watching a nice chemical explosion and ended in how to properly put on and remove gloves. In between all the fun and excitement we discusses personal protection equipment, hand washing, and understanding how to obtain information from MSDS sheets.
At this time I had discussed my senior project with both Dr. Scott Schneider and Dr. Valentina Tobos. I knew Dr. Scott was going to be my adviser since we had previously discussed what type of physics project I was interested in doing at the 2013 Midwest Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. On January 18, 2013 at that time I stated I was interested in a project in astrophysics. When Dr. Scott and I discussed my project this time, I knew I wanted a project in theoretical astrophysics, and that I would like to study the formation and evolution of galaxies after graduation. We discussed many project ideas he had but I did not find them particularly interesting. At this time I stated what I was interested in, and we discussed what I would be capable of doing as an undergraduate. After some time we came up with the idea of obtaining an understanding of galaxy rotation curves and the use of genetic algorithms while accounting for dark matter. I did not have a strong understanding of the project at this time, but it sounded interesting!
It was a cold snowy winter day and we were meeting in the optics lab instead of our normal classroom. Physics research safety was discussed in depth, more specifically laser safety. Then we moved into the next room which is the confocal microscope laboratory then proceeded into the next room which is the laser laboratory. Here we were able to see Dr. Changgong Zhou use some of the lasers, one which I had already used in a contemporary physics lab.
The term conflict of interestI was vaguely familiar with before this discussion. I had an idea of what it meant but I was not sure how it applied to research. This showed me how there is a lot to think about before beginning a research project, that it may not be a simple decision. While it may appear to be exactly what you are looking for you have to keep in mind your: personal, intellectual, financial, and professional interests to decide if this is truly the best opportunity.
Professional ethics is a topic that is incredibly important for any undergraduate degree. I know many students, myself included, often wonder why there is this LTU Honor Code we must have on everything we submit to our professors. Well, someone must have thought they would be clever enough to “beat the system” and not put in as much effort as others and come out with a fantastic grade. While discussing professional ethics it was made more clear that perhaps the circumstances a person is in can and often will influence their behavior. This does not make it alright for someone to not be ethical but, it makes you think a bit differently to see how someone else may be thinking.
Having and understanding of the undergraduate learning goals that LTU has for its students is important because it helps give understanding on why our flow charts are made the way they are. In Introduction to Senior Projects in Science the learning goals that are emphasized are Sustainability and Professional Ethics. At this time the main focus is on sustainability: what we are required to know, what sustainability is, what is means to have a sustainable society, the three unifying themes of sustainability and most importantly understanding if our project is sustainable. While we all strive for sustainable projects is not always achievable in obtaining desirable results, so some projects may not be sustainable. At this point, while I did not know a lot of the details for my project or what specifically it would be on, I did know it would most likely be sustainable.
While a lot of this seemed rather elementary, the main focus was “work hard, but remember to have fun.” As so many people get so caught up into seeing results they do not always have as much fun as they could working on their project. Being a serious student, this was good to hear for an hour straight. I am often one of those people so caught up in “doing well” and getting “desirable results” that I do not take enough time to realize how awesome it is to be at Lawrence Tech. Lawrence Tech isn’t just another private university, it’s home until graduation, even for those who do not live on campus. We spend so much time there it is definitely our home during the school year. The relationships we form with are professors are so wonderful and they are just as much family to us as our friends are. It’s a place you go for an education and in the process are transformed into a person you never thought you could be.
The scientific method was reviewed and a much more strong emphasis on literature research. Learned how to research using various databases to see how the different databases can produce different results using the same search criteria. While I’ve looked at some journal articles before I did not perform any specific research until at this time in Introduction to Senior Projects in Science. An area of interest for my senior project was identified at this time: formation and evolution of galaxies and the formation of black holes. At this time I also did not know how possible this would be for a senior project, I only knew it was a path I wanted to pursue after graduation.
Skills Obtained: project management, ability to write a project proposal, ability to present research clearly.Requirements: conduct literature research, project planning, proposal writing and presentation, application of ethical principles to scientific research.
Please note: All posts categorized as Introduction to Senior Projects in Science are back dated to the date the event originally occurred. The thought of creating this blog did not come until after my Proposal Presentation on Thursday May 1, 2014.