What advice do you have for undergraduates who are just starting out in research?Be flexible and patient! A great piece of advice I received was, “However long you anticipate a portion of your research project to take, multiply that by 3, and that’s how long it will actually take.” Undergraduate research is such a rewarding experience, and it should be taken seriously. It allows you to push your boundaries, and you will discover yourself in a way that you never thought possible. Just when you think you have done all that you can, do more.
What are your current plans/career goals beyond the undergraduate?
To pursue a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology, complete my Clinical Fellowship Year, then return to pursue a Ph.D in Speech-Language Pathology. I would love to be able to come back to WVU and work as a professor. I have gained so much knowledge from the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department at WVU, and I would love to be able to give back to the university as much as I can.
Why did you choose get involved in undergraduate research?
I wanted to grow both academically and professionally. I was very interested in phonetics and language acquisition, so I wanted to engage in research within the realm of language development to further my knowledge and understanding within my field.
How did you find/connect with your first faculty research adviser?
She was my professor for both Phonetics and Language Acquisition.
What is your current research?
It is thought that the order in which we learn speech sounds affects how this speech sound information (i.e. phonological) is organized in the brain, which can impact how effectively we use long-term phonological knowledge in language. My study examines consonant age of acquisition effects in various linguistic tasks using a continuous variable and regression-based design in order to further explore the contribution of long-term phonological knowledge to language function. Participants aged 18-25 years complete three experimental tasks, non-word repetition, non-word reading, and lexical decision, using stimuli that vary in the use of early and late developing speech sounds. Based on previous findings using a dichotomous variable for age of acquisition, I predict that consonant age of acquisition will predict the college students’ performance on the three tasks.
What skills have you learned by doing research that you would not have learned otherwise (i.e., from lecture alone)?
I have learned how to be patient and more flexible in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I have learned to think analytically, critically, and to ask questions constantly. I feel that I have become much more curious since I have been involved in research. My level of persistence has grown immensely, as well. Working on a project, finding problems and fixing them, starting over, finding more problems and fixing those, and eventually being successful are things that you can’t learn in lecture, but only while being hands-on with a project.