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Opinion: Undergraduate students should take more research opportunities

ASU's research programs can provide students with a paycheck and better understanding of their major

Research opportunities

"Whether your major is in psychology, math, sustainability or sociology, there is a wealth of immersive opportunities at ASU." Illustration published on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2020.

There are over 1,000 student organizations at ASU that have opportunities for almost any student's interests. When becoming involved on campus, students should also look into undergraduate research to enrich their college experience. 

Many people associate research with working in a lab on a biology or chemistry project. However, there are opportunities across many different fields. ASU is recognized for its research in various areas. Whether your major is in the sciences or humanities, there are several reasons to become involved at ASU. 

Annika Mann, an associate professor of English at the School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, and Heather Switzer, an associate professor of women and gender studies in the School of Social Transformation, co-taught the Disrupting Dis/Ability Humanities Lab in Fall 2020.

Mann explained why participating in research can enhance student experiences. For one, it provides an opportunity to explore an issue they care about and expand their knowledge of the topic. This includes understanding its history, causes and how researchers have addressed the issue or found solutions.

"That deep knowledge provided by research then allows the student to enter into the work of addressing the issue or problem herself — of attempting to make change, which is incredibly empowering and important," Mann said.

For instance, through the Disrupting Dis/Ability discourses, Mann explained how students gained insight into ASU resources, such as accessibility, and also undertook impacts and outcomes on campus. 

"I witnessed students benefit from learning about the history of access at ASU — a history many of them didn't know, but which helped them then craft their own attempts to increase access to the physical and intellectual spaces of ASU," Mann said. "For students, I think this is extremely exciting, because this process allows them to create and often publicize new ideas."

Beyond increasing your awareness in an area you're passionate about and using that knowledge to impact a community, another reason why undergraduates should consider participating in research is to connect with ASU faculty members. This is a great opportunity to learn from people with experience in your field of interest and find mentorship. Also, based on personal experience, there are some options to work as a paid research assistant or obtain course credit for working on a research project. 

For the Fall 2020 semester, I joined the Arizona Youth Identity Project as a research assistant through ASU. The ongoing project focuses on what it means to be American and works to better understand identities, experiences and political attitudes for people ages 18 to 30. After taking the class and learning more about how the research is conducting, I added a minor in sociology.

If you are a Barrett, The Honors College student, there are also opportunities to acquire honors credit for participating in research.

Fortunately, whether you major is in psychology, math, sustainability or sociology, there is a wealth of immersive opportunities at ASU. Even during the pandemic, there are remote opportunities. Exploring ASU webpages and the employment website, reaching out to professors and speaking with advisors are great resources for discovering new connections. 

There are also scholarships and research-oriented programs offered by various departments at ASU. These resources would benefit students who want to become involved, yet need assistance with accessing opportunities. 

If you're an undergraduate student at ASU, don't overlook these enriching opportunities to be engaged and make an impact, because what's more innovative than research?

Reach the columnist at or follow @lynettehrabik on Twitter.

Editor's note: The opinions presented in this column are the author's and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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