Preparing the next generation

One of the great joys of science, in my view, is teaching others about science, how it works, and why it is arguably the most advanced type of problem solving ever invented by humans. As graduate students at FIU we are given ample opportunities to pass along our knowledge, expertise, and love of science to the next generation of scientists (undergraduates) through teaching classes, giving public lectures, and directly mentoring individual students. At last count FIU had about 40,000 undergraduates enrolled, so finding motivated students to help out with graduate research is a relatively easy task.

After five years in FIU's biology PhD program, I've had the pleasure of mentoring eight students for various lengths of time (six FIU undergrads, one Ursinus College undergrad, and one Miami-Dade high school student). They've assisted me with data entry, data analysis, lab work, literature research, and even field work in the Everglades, including alligator catching.

In return, besides the amazing hands-on learning experiences, the undergraduate students can receive research credits from FIU that count towards their graduation requirements. They also get great reference letters from me when they apply for internships or for admission to graduate school. The Miami-Dade high school student I mentored last year, Jamie Odzer, even entered the research she did with me into the International Science and Engineering Fair and won 3rd place in her category, receiving $2,000 in prize money!

Jamie Odzer
Watching and participating in the maturation of young scientists is extremely enjoyable for me. Their enthusiasm for animals or lab techniques that you've dealt with hundreds of times is infectious and helps remind you that your research is exciting and worthwhile, and they enable you to see the amazing process of science through fresh eyes again. If you are an undergraduate or high school student reading this and you want to be involved with science in any way, get in touch with labs at a university or college near you and ask if you can volunteer on a graduate research project. The experience will be life changing for you and your mentor.

Greg Mineau
Cynthia Aceves
Fernanda Velasco

Jenn Meyer
Melissa Pimentel

Max Lowenstein


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