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Matthew Parsley

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

Treat it as a job. With school work, you can choose to not do it, but you're only hurting yourself. In a lab setting, others are depending on you to complete your share of responsibilities. Not only do you owe it to your lab adviser to do your part, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of and make the best of the opportunity.

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

When I was 10, I wanted to be a heart surgeon, a brain surgeon, and a preacher (simultaneously).

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

Currently, I plan to attend medical school to be a pediatrician.

When did you get involved in undergraduate research?

I had my first experience with research during the fall and spring semesters of my sophomore year.

How long have you been involved in undergraduate research?

I have "officially" been in a lab since the summer between my junior and senior year.

Why did you choose get involved in undergraduate research?

My sophomore research experience was because I was trying to make myself look good. I didn't know exactly what it meant to be a researcher, but it sounded like a good résumé builder. I didn't enjoy it very much, and got away from the experience. Through the year in between, I became more interested in nutrition and happened to be looking for a summer opportunity. I decided to give research another chance, but combine it with my new, budding interest.

What is your current research?

Get FRUVED is a multistate research project that aims to create a healthier on-campus environment. The program emphasizes healthy eating, stress management, and physical activity, and is primarily geared towards college freshmen; although, upperclassmen are welcome to attend the health-themed, weekly FRUVED events. In addition to the weekly events, we conduct environmental assessments to gauge how much work each campus needs in terms of health promotion and healthy choice accessibility.

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

Research has given me teamwork skills that no other opportunity has ever been able to compare. It's easy to be a team player, but the real work is being able to hold yourself accountable. If you make a promise, you keep it. If you say you'll spend so many hours working on data, you do it. That accountability factor has really helped me to grow up, because it's more than just myself that would be affected.