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James Hartnett

What advice do you have for undergraduates who are just starting out in research?

Try your best not to be overwhelmed. There is a lot of information out there, and trying to funnel it all and find where your idea fits in, is a lot, but it will work out.  Conducting the research and writing a paper about your research will stress you, and so will having to do SEVERAL revisions, but the reward of a completed project will be worth it.

When you were 10 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I had dreamed of becoming a paleontologist.

What are your current plans/career goals beyond the undergraduate?

I am currently in the first semester of my Master's Program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the WVU College of Education and Human Services. I plan to become a mental health counselor for military veterans.

When did you get involved in undergraduate research?

I became involved in undergraduate research during the second half of my junior year when I applied to and was accepted by the WVU McNair Scholars Program. Until then, I was involved in research by working at the Health Science Center and assisting those in the office with their projects in any way possible.

Why did you choose get involved in undergraduate research?

I initially became involved in research because I wanted to participate in my own research project and it was a qualification of my becoming a McNair Scholar.

How did you find/connect with your first faculty research adviser?

I connected with Dr. Zizzi by learning about him as a Sport & Exercise Psychology professor and wanted to get to know him. I learned that he was skilled at qualitative research and, after hearing my research idea for my senior year, he agreed to work with me.

What was your research?

My research project was a qualitative exploratory study using a social media site called Whisper to collect anonymous, shared postings by military veterans. Within the collected posts, I looked for potential themes so I could get greater understanding about military veterans' experiences post-deployment.

What skills have you learned by doing research that you would not have learned otherwise (i.e., from lecture alone)?

By doing research, I learned how to create my own project idea and then construct it from the ground up. Also, I learned the importance of being interested in a specific idea and searching for new information to add to the scientific community. I enjoyed both the stress and thrill of research itself.