The professors at SMU, in addition to teaching classes, conduct research in their respective fields. Opportunities for research exist outside of the hard sciences. Two examples from my own friends are projects for history and economics. My research experience began after my freshman year during which I discovered a new interest.
Before attending SMU, I had never taken a psychology class. After enrolling in PSYC 1300 with Dr. Susan Hornstein during my first semester, my fascination with the subject led me to decide to add a psychology minor to my academic career. When considering the research opportunities at SMU, I decided to send emails to biology and psychology labs. This method of reaching out to any lab that interested me was suggested by professors and student mentors.
Ultimately, I became an Undergraduate Research Assistant for the Anxiety and Depression Research Center (ARDC) at SMU. This center tackles anxiety and depression from clinical intervention and biological perspectives. I personally help with Natalie Tunnell’s project studying the effects of a particular therapy for pregnant women. When I became a Research Assistant, this study was still being approved by the Institutional Review Board. Since joining the ARDC, my tasks have included extensive literature reviews, creating the online versions for the surveys, and recruiting participants. It has been an incredible experience to be a part of this project from its beginning. Moving forward, I plan to continue my work at the ARDC. This time next year, I hope to pursue my own project under the guidance of Natalie, the other PhD students, and the directors of the center.
Once realizing my passion for psychology and finding the ARDC, I was able to so easily envision how this research opportunity would greatly enhance my academic life at SMU. Regarding academics, my two recommendations to incoming students would be to let yourself be pleasantly surprised by a class and to connect yourself to the opportunities on campus, even if that’s by sending emails expressing your interest. SMU is the place to explore your newfound passions, and to have those passions be shaped into an incredible experience, with the help of your mentors.