Undergraduate Research at Eastern

(From The Campus Lantern – September 18, 2014) 

There is a resource on Eastern’s campus that more students should be taking advantage of, yet not many know about it. Under the “Campus Culture” section of the Student Portal on Eastern’s website, there is a link on the bottom left which reads “Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity.” Through this office, students can be connected to opportunities to work with faculty mentors on research projects or creative work. Students can also apply for research and travel grants, fellowships and scholarships and find summer research or creative programs at other schools that provide stipends and housing. It is important to note that undergraduate research is being conducted across most disciplines here at Eastern; students are encouraged to start thinking about participating as early as possible by talking to faculty in their departments.

The website is a useful resource for learning more about the research opportunities that Eastern offers. The website explains that “[l]ong-term, scholarly activity outside of the classroom has been tied to graduate school acceptance” and “[c]areer preparation is also enhanced by undergraduate research and creative work.” Students can browse completed projects by other Eastern undergraduates, learn about resources that are available to those who would like to do research, and read news about the department. There is also an area of the website which offers tips for successful ways for students to present their research, including how to make a poster using PowerPoint. These are tools that can be used not only when conducting research but also when students are in the classroom. The website also features student work that has been published, presented or exhibited.

Eric Cerino, Eastern alumnus of the class of 2014 who completed six projects through the Undergraduate Research department, says, “I was fortunate enough to have Dr. Escoto and other Eastern professors through the years inform me about research and encourage me to delve into multiple research projects. My mentors Drs. Lanagan-Leitzel, Leszczynski and Salters-Pedneault constantly pushed me towards disseminating my findings at conferences and through publications.”

Because of his work through the department, Cerino is now enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Oregon State University and receives tuition reimbursement and a substantial stipend. He continues, “Eastern provides the foundation and background for a successful research career and promotes students to discover a passion they wish to make a difference in. As a successful aging researcher, I identify cognitive, physical, and societal factors that contribute to a healthier lifestyle in older adults through interdisciplinary methods. I can say wholeheartedly that Eastern is responsible for the development of this passion.”

The Undergraduate Research Coordinator, Dr. Carlos A. Escoto, can be contacted at escotoc@easternct.edu for students who are interested in learning more about undergraduate research, its benefits, and how to get involved in a project.

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