In Spring 2018, I took Entering Research II, a required elective for the LIFE STEM program.
Entering Research II (ERII) is a course that is exclusively for LIFE STEM students and it is a continuation of ERI. This class was designed to continue our narrative of research opportunities and reading science literature. However, this class is different because the major focus is on writing research proposals.
This class took a different approach to teaching us to comprehend science literature. Each week, a student presented the components of a research paper of their choice, followed by a class discussion. This was an interactive way to explore existing literature that is of our interests and to practice our presentation skills. This class also took a different approach to introducing us to research. While it wasn’t the main focus of this course, we still got introduced to research when a panel of research faculty visited our class and answered our questions regarding research and research protocol. While these components are important, the predominant focus was on research proposal writing.
The major assignment of this class was the research proposal that we worked all semester long. Over the course of the semester, we broke down the components of a research proposal and we learned about the expectations of writing each section. We were divided into groups based on our interest in a researchable topic pertaining to the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Each group wrote individual proposals with similar but unique project designs. After writing our completed proposal, the groups worked together to present the proposal, using one of the members project designs.
The complete research proposal is the artifact I chose for this class because it was what we were building up to all semester and it symbolizes the largest amount of work that was put into the class. I am really proud of this work because this is an example of how my science writing improved from the first semester, which represents me growing into my major and feeling successful in LIFE STEM. In my group, we came up with a proposal to research how climate change alters the behavior of migratory animals in the Chesapeake Bay, and I chose to research the Bottlenose Dolphin.
I loved this class because I got so much out of it. I learned truly what being a scientist was because we were learning how to read, think, and write like a scientist. As a scientist in training, I absolutely needed this class because it was able to provide me with the tools to feel like I was not only “catching up” as a science student but accelerating past the experience level of typical science freshman. As I mentioned in my Biography, being a scientist was not a career path I had ever considered before applying for college, so my mindset going into college wasn’t oriented in the way that someone else might be who has known they wanted to be in the science field since they could remember. I was insecure that I wasn’t going to “understand” scientific literature and being the only person who was lost when everyone else in the class understands. I was nervous that Environmental Science might have been the wrong choice, but because of ERII, those fears disappeared. This class helped me hone the proper skills I needed step by step and I feel like I am way better off than non-LIFE STEM science majors at my level. This class was the push I needed to thrive as a science major and it reassured me that this is what I want to be doing at Longwood.