Reflecting on my CURF Experience

Conducting research can be a challenging endeavor. I was not sure what to expect when I began researching with Professor Hong’s group this year; all I knew is that I was interested in the work. When I first began working on my project this semester, I took a long time to do everything, because I wanted all my work to be perfect before I showed anyone else in the group. I was hesitant to ask questions because I did not want to look like I didn’t know what I was doing. For some odd reason, I never realized the true extent of the resources available to me, provided by the research group but also Pitt as a whole, including Pitt Honors.

The right way to do research is definitely not to dive in the deep end by yourself and hope you can figure out how to swim. The truth is, nobody expects you to swim right away. When you look at research as an independent activity right when you’re starting out, it becomes very intimidating very quickly. Research, as least in my field, which I think should be the same in most fields, is a very collaborative exercise.

The moment I began asking questions and discussing more with my peers and advisors in the group was the moment I began learning a lot more about the work but also about the process of research as a whole. Asking questions is central to any research project, which took me a while to get used to. Now I am not afraid to ask questions when I don’t understand something, because I know that it will help me conduct more research in the future.

The most valuable part of my CURF experience this semester was being able to learn how to work with a larger group of people on collaborative projects. In Dr. Hong’s research group, we have many long-term projects we are working on together, most of which take more than a semester to complete. Working with a team of scientists on real research was an amazing experience, and I am excited to devote more time this summer to providing meaningful contributions to the group.

This summer, I was selected to receive a U.S. ATLAS SUPER Grant, which is an undergraduate research grant sponsored by the U.S. Collaboration for the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. I will be working full time this summer on two different projects, one being focused on research and development on the ATLAS trigger system and one focused more on physics analysis, where I will be designing an analysis to search for exotic production models of the Higgs Boson.

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