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Askar Salikhov

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

Don't be afraid to chase after research opportunities, even if you think your department may not require research. Expand your portfolio outside of the classroom and develop the skills that you already have. You don't necessarily have to enter the research and exit out with a published paper. This is a an opportunity to better yourself by exploring outside of your comfort zone. While you are there, be humble and ask questions, plenty of them. That is how you learn. If research becomes troublesome, keep your head up and keep shoveling through. You are bound to make a discovery.

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

A movie star or a film director.

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

Perhaps engage in photojournalism abroad, in different regions of the world such as Africa, Southern Europe, or the Middle East.

When did you get involved in undergraduate research?

The spring semester of my freshmen year.

How long have you been involved in undergraduate research?

I've done research for Professor Jenny Boulware for one semester and I am planning to do more in the Spring of 2016.

Why did you choose get involved in undergraduate research?

Being a history major misled my conception of when I could start doing undergraduate research. At first, I believed that professors would not want a freshman to work with them, especially in the liberal arts where opportunities for research seemed few and far between. I wanted to engage beyond the classroom as soon as I could. Luckily, I found my avenue with the History Undergraduate Research Program led by Dr. Joseph Hodge. At the time, I was nervous, yet excited, for the opportunity to work with a professor to improve my skills as a researcher.

(Learn more about undergraduate research in history at WVU!)

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

Professor Jenny Boulware gave a presentation at my history orientation class in the fall of my freshman year. There, I was introduced to the field of public history. It was a discipline that I was not familiar with at the time, but found interest in right out of the gate. Public history differentiated itself from other studies, mainly in its methodology and application of history. The spring semester of my freshman year, I visited Professor Boulware for an opportunity to do first-hand research in different ongoing projects. From then on, I spent the semester involved in two different projects and, in the following fall semester, I took Professor Boulware's Intro to Historical Preservation where I continued to do work in Public History.

What is your current research?

There were two projects that I was involved with. The first project, the main one, brought me to an unearthed water well discovered in Cheat Lake in 2014. The objectives were to find who had built this well, approximately when, and for what reason. Furthermore, I was also required to figure out whether the well had any historical significance in terms of well-known people, important events, or architectural design. The second project led me all the way out to Rices Landing, Pennsylvania where the W.A. Young and Sons Machine Shop and Foundry sat facing the Monongahela River. Inside the old and non-operational machine shop, a treasure trove of everything relating to woodwork and steel-making remained idle for decades. More specific to my project, the machine shop contained wooden patterns that were used to create interchangeable parts of machines. For this project, I was tasked with uncovering what were these parts.

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

Going out in the field was very advantageous. I visited the Courthouse, along with the Aull Center for Genealogy and the West Virginia and Regional History Center, to search through different legal documents and records pertaining to my project. I learned how to effectively navigate court house records in order to find what I wanted, whether it was a deed sale or a tax record. I also discovered how important it was to jot down notes for every finding, no matter how big or small. Organizational skills are crucial to be able to move through material and for later review.