Throughout my time at Pitt, I’ve had the opportunity to partake in various research labs to conduct studies that were drastically different in their field and methodologies. Currently, I conduct psychology research on the development of aspects of cognition, specifically math, in toddlers and young children. I came across this research by finding the research lab of one of my upcoming professors, who teaches Developmental Psychology: Cognitive Development, and being very interested in how cognition develops in young children and affects them throughout their life. Thus, I got in touch with my professor about the possibility of working in her lab and learned more about the various projects that were being studied. Learning about the different available projects, I became interested in the idea of working with children at a pivotal age and seeing how various socioeconomic factors can also have an affect in cognitive development.
For students who wish to conduct research but are unsure about how to pursue various research opportunities, there are plenty of resources I would suggest. For those that might be in their first year at Pitt, I would suggest the First Experiences in Research program as through that program you can fill out a questionnaire so that the University matches you with a mentor and a lab that aligns with your interests. For older students, I would recommend reaching out to any professors whose courses they might have enjoyed or are very interested in and seeing whether they are conducting research that has open spots for students. If not, I would suggest that students peruse the website of the field that they are interested in, as there are many research mentors that are often looking for students. Lastly, I would recommend students check out Pitt Talent Center, as there are often many research positions on there for students that wish to be employed doing research.
I think that the opportunities that Pitt has for its students to become involved in research are very impressive and I am very grateful for them. In the future, I aspire to be a pediatric neurologist so having the ability to do this research with young children allows me to get early insight into the potential rewards and challenges of working with children. Furthermore, this research also allows me to see how cognition plays a long term role in an individual’s development and life, which is also something that is affected in many neurological conditions. Therefore, this research gives me a lot of insight into the information that a pediatric neurologist has to become comfortable with.