Alyssa Lester, a Chemistry major at IU, was first introduced to undergraduate research as a freshman through the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) program.
Her passions for reading and writing harmonized with her interest in scientific research. In her first semester, she remembers being blown away after reading the history of Eunice Newton Foote, a climate scientist credited for predicting that CO2 would have harmful effects on the environment.
During her second semester, Lester gained hands on experience by conducting research in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Under Professor Bruce Douglas, she learned how to analyze data using Excel and MATLAB.
“I learned a lot about the part where you’re not in the lab,” Lester said. “The part where you have to collect and handle all of the data and pull data from multiple sources and compare it.” Lester hopes to build on this training by engaging in lab-based research opportunities.
Lester believes that getting involved in research early on in college is crucial for career exploration. “If I wouldn’t have done this research in the spring, I wouldn’t have realized that I probably didn’t want to end up being a chemist,” Lester said.
She encourages other students to seek out all available research opportunities and get involved. “Even if it’s not quite in your major or it’s not quite in your field of interest, your general experience transfers and it gives you more of an understanding of what people really do in the field that you’re looking into.”