The alum that I decided to connect with on Pitt Commons was Dr. Kait Folweiler. I decided to connect with her because she has a doctorate in a natural science and used it to get a job as a data analyst. Her career interests me because I would also like to get a doctorate in my natural science field and use it to get a job not in academia. I am also interested in what her job description entails; “data analyst” is a very broad term that could be applied to any field. Almost every mid-large range company will have a few data analyst positions. I would like to know how Dr. Folweiler’s research both in undergrad and graduate school help her with her job today, and what she thinks are the most important things she learned in research.
I met Dr. Eitan Shelef at the beginning of my fourth year at Pitt through the undergraduate advisor of the geology major, Dr. Charlie Jones. I had switched majors from physics & astronomy (one major) to geology the semester before, and Dr. Jones helped me with the transition. I had previously done research in the math department and was hoping to switch to research in geophysics, geomathematics, or computational geology. Since Dr. Jones had been so helpful in my transition between majors, I asked for his help on transitions between research projects. He recommended a few professors who did research in the topics I had shown interest in. One of these professors was Dr. Shelef whose undergraduate researcher was graduating soon. Since the stars seemed to align, I walked into Dr. Shelef’s office later that week and we began talking. The thing I enjoyed most about his work was that it used mathematical relations to describe geological processes. Most of the topics in my geology classes do not use a lot of math, so research that required both of my majors was very appealing. So, for me, an excellent way of finding a research mentor was to ask the undergraduate advisor. However, this probably works best for a smaller department.
I would like to go on to grad school after my time at Pitt. I think having a connection with the professors would apply to work with at each school I apply to will greatly help my chances of achieving that goal. I think a good way of making those connections would be to know something about the research they do. Comparing the similarities between work they have done and work I have done will greatly increase my chances of working with that professor. Making connections with the professors I would like to do research with would help me in my goal to attend grad school after I graduate.