11 Reasons Why You Should Do an REU

11 Reasons Why You Should Do an REU

You might learn more than just science.
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This past summer, I participated in a ten week National Science Foundation funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (or REU for short). An REU is a program in which students can travel to another university to work on a research project with a faculty member, post-doc student, or graduate student at that university. The REU I participated in was the REU in Chemistry & Biochemistry at Miami University. In the lab, I learned so many new techniques, confirmed a new scientific finding, and gained confidence in my lab skills. Although the lab experience was great, the REU had so many other benefits! In my opinion, all science majors should try to participate in an REU before they graduate and here is why:

1. You can learn new lab skills and build confidence in the lab.

Working in the lab every single day required using lab skills I learned at my home university. At first, I was nervous and afraid to make mistakes. At the beginning, I frequently made mistakes, but as the program continued I grew more confident in what I was doing, and made less mistakes.

However, I also learned so many new skills and how to run new experiments that I had never done before at my home university. Just like my old skills, I was slow and made mistakes at first, but by the end of the program, I was able to run several experiments at once (with the help of my lab partner of course), and much more quickly! Participating in this REU was a great confidence builder for me, and I’m excited to go into the lab at my home university with new found knowledge.

2. You get to learn all about the project you are working on, while gaining new insight into the field in which you are doing research.

Lab skills and experimental techniques were not the only things I learned in the lab. In an REU, students get to work specifically on one project. This requires reading papers and talking with the primary investigator to learn all about the specific project. My project was in the field of biochemistry and involved plant proteins. Throughout the course of my project, I learned about proteins involved in plant mitosis and meiosis, chloroplast structure and function, and immunology. It was almost like taking a class with no homework and no grades, while working on a project directly related to what you’re learning.

3. You might make a new discovery.

In research, there is always the opportunity to make a new scientific discovery. You could make a new compound that’s never been made, discover the function of a specific biological molecule, figure out a new way to purify a compound, etc. There are so many possibilities. In the lab, no work in useless, so even if you feel like your project is going nowhere, you’re always making progress, even if you’re only discovering what doesn’t work. As a science geek, it's pretty cool to be able to say you made a scientific discovery!

4. It's a good resume builder.

Adding an REU to your resume looks great. It’s a unique experience that combines working with learning and discovery. I’ve always been told the addition of an REU is impressive on an application to graduate school or even medical school.

5. You could make some money.

You’re probably wondering if you can get paid to do an REU. The answer is yes! An REU usually involves a stipend payment. Although you shouldn’t do an REU just for the money, it is nice to earn some money in the process, especially if you are a broke college student.

6. It builds good presentation skills.

At my REU, I was required to do two presentations. At the beginning of the program, each student involved was required to present the background and abstract for their project. At the end, we each made a poster and presented it at a poster session. Participating in an REU forced me to get up in front of people and help them understand my project. It was really good for me, since I rarely have this opportunity at my home university. It helps build public speaking skills, as well as communication skills.

7. It's an opportunity to live in a new place.

Although the REU I did was not too far from home, I still lived there during the week. I got to explore a town I had never lived in before, eat at new restaurants I’d never tried, and have adventures in different cohort building activities the REU provided for participants. Although I wasn’t in a completely new place, many of the other students in the REU were from places all over the nation. To them, the Midwest was a whole new place that they’d never been to, so I’m sure it was filled with even more new, exciting experiences for them.

8. It gives you confidence in living on your own.

I always joke that the most important thing I learned at my REU was how to cook. Since you aren’t an actual student at the university where the REU is, sometimes you can’t get a meal plan. At Miami, we had no meal plan, so I had to buy my own groceries and cook my own food. Although I hated that aspect at first, I came to like the sense of independence that came from picking out and buying my own food as well as deciding what I would make for dinner. It’s nice to know now that I can feed myself when I live on my own some day!

9. You learn what it's like to work in a lab every day.

Another great thing about working in the lab every day is that you can get a sense of what your future career may be like if you plan to go into research. You get a feel for the process of science. You get to see if you like the flow of trial and error. It’s a chance to see if you truly enjoy doing research.

10. It can help you decide if you want to go to grad school.

Participating in an REU can really help you determine if you want to go to grad school. If you love it, it can be a very positive indication that you should go to grad school. On the other hand, if you hate it, you know that grad school isn’t for you, so there is no need to waste your time applying or trying it. It’s almost like a trial run for grad school.

11. You might make some great friends in the process.

And last but not least, one of the best things about doing an REU is the people you will meet. At my REU, we all lived in the same dormitory, so we got to hang out a lot in our free time. I found some good friends in the other REU students. It’s amazing getting to hang out with people who have a shared interest in science, and nobody thinks you’re a nerd. Not only did we share a kitchen, but we shared a lot of chemistry memes and jokes, celebrated some birthdays, and learned about the places where each other were from. It’s crazy to think that because of my REU, I have friends from all over the nation. Although we only knew each other for ten weeks, I think we all made friendships that will last a lifetime.

Cover Image Credit: Dife

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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Things I Miss Now That I'm Home From College Again

There are so many reasons to be glad that the school year is over, but if you've done it right... there are a lot of reasons to miss it too.

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So, school is over now and I've come home. As expected I was so relieved at first. No more showering with flip-flops, no more listening to screaming girls running up and down the hall, and a space that is mine and mine alone. But after a week or so of being back, there are a few things I've already started to miss.

I know that not every single person has the ideal roommate but I got really lucky with mine. Coming home I was excited to have my own space, but now when I'm doing my midnight scrolling, I'm realizing that I miss being able to talk to her about the funny things I see in that very moment. Tagging, DMing, and texting her doesn't feel the same as a long night of giggles spent together.

Also, while seeing old friends when you get home is amazing, and there is always a lot to catch up on, you do start to miss your other friends too. Being in college means that your friends are going through similar things as you are all the time. You have tests together, clubs together, and sometimes you spend way too much time procrastinating together. The bond you begin to form is one you definitely begin to miss - especially when you guys don't live close off of campus.

Coming home also means you don't have a set schedule or at least not immediately. You may come back to a previous job and that puts something on your calendar, but the free time you still have during the week can be a little too much. I know I've spent way too much time obsessing over the Tati/James drama than I ever would have at school. The routine I had at school kept me busy and entertained, and I'm honestly missing it a lot right now.

There are a lot of other things to miss too - even things you thought you wouldn't. You miss the classes, the teachers, and sometimes the food. I know I miss the environment. It isn't a perfect one, but it's full of people just trying to find their way. We are all working through the roller coaster of life and we are all stuck on one beautiful campus together while we figure it all out. I miss meeting new people at the bus stops or running into old classmates and catching up.

I guess the bonus for me is that I just finished sophomore year which means I have more time to spend at school. Come senior year, I guess I'll have to learn quickly how to deal without the things I miss - and also create a schedule so I can travel to see all of my friends, but those are all problems for future me.

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