As an undergraduate, I started doing basic science research on multiple sclerosis the summer after my freshman year. That led to my earning the Beckman scholarship, enabling me to pursue a mentored research project and gain more skills in research techniques. It was an incredible opportunity to have more dedicated time for research, engage with other scholars and present work internationally.
This taught me about the process of research, methodologies, analysis and how to present data, whether for presentation or publication. I learned about the various roles people play in the research process, and the importance of a good mentor and team. It’s an incredible feeling to delve into a field, make new discoveries (however big or small), and understand how that may impact next steps or practice.
After graduation, I went to medical school. I realized that I wanted to try clinical research, rather than basic science research, and that set me on a career path in clinical investigation and clinical practice. I focused my interest in gastroenterology, largely due to my service learning experiences abroad as an undergraduate, which I engaged in after the Beckman Scholars Program was completed.
My experience with the URC prepared me for doing research at another institution, since I understood the process and commitment. On a deeper level, the excitement of seeing a project through motivated me to continue doing research, and helps me to this day when designing studies or analyzing data.
Undergraduate research opens students’ eyes to possibilities and helps them identify their passions. It gave me a place to start, and without it, I don’t know where my career would be now. Through research, you can be part of a team, contribute in a meaningful way and learn research methodology. These are all important in life, regardless of whether or not you pursue a career involving research.
—GAUREE GUPTA KONIJETI ’02, MPH ’11