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I am excited to share our first (of many) Research Assistant Spotlight! Each month, we will highlight a student working in a Psychology research lab to learn about the work they are doing and what they’ve learned along the way.
Working in a research lab is a great way to gain experience in the field, make professional connections, and add skills to your resume. Check out the Psychology Labs page for available opportunities and contact Amanda Ryan with any questions!
Name: Emel Mahadi
Major(s)/Minor(s): Biological Sciences and Psychology
Semester of Research Assistantship: Spring 2019
Research Lab: Memory and Language Lab
Give an overview of your research lab and what you do while working there.
Our lab conducts wide-ranging research in language, perception, memory, and attention. As a research assistant, I help to direct participants by explaining the procedure and ensure that every person who signed up for a specific day is able to join. I assist in the collection of data after the participants have finished their experiment by organizing the data and keeping track of how many participants we had that day.
Why did you choose this research lab? How does it fit in with your career and academic goals?
I chose this lab because I wanted to be a part of something great and experience something new that I otherwise wouldn't gain from sitting in a lecture hall or classroom. I wanted to develop new skills that I knew I could take with me and apply to my future career path down the road. I want to work with children in the future as a child psychiatrist and I believe that this research opportunity has allowed me to develop and enhance new skill sets such as time management, organization, teamwork and leadership, to name a few.
What do you like most about working in your lab? What activities/responsibilities did you enjoy and learn the most from?
What I enjoy most about working in my lab is the different people I get to meet and work with every time I go in. I lead an average of 40-50 participants every week so I get to meet new people each time. The responsibility I learned the most from was making sure the data and information of the participants was correct and in the right folder. This allowed for me to become more organized which is a very important skill to have as a child psychiatrist because psychiatrists see different patients every day and so keeping track of the correct patient information is essential.
What are your career goals after completing your Psychology degree?
After completing my psychology degree, I plan on attending medical school upon graduation and opening up my own clinic as a child psychiatrist. My career goal is to help children who suffer from any mental health or behavioral disorders and to create a lasting positive impact in their life.
Do you have a “fun fact” about the research being conducted in your lab?
One fun fact is that when people tend to lie, their pupils dilate which means that your brain is doing a lot more work to come up with a lie compared to when you are telling the truth.
What is your biggest takeaway from your time spent in the lab?
My biggest takeaway from this Memory and Language lab would be the development of my practical skills that I can apply in my future career. Prior to working in the Memory and Language lab, I did not have much research experience or a clear understanding of what it takes to run a research lab efficiently. As the semester progressed, I was able to expand my knowledge and enhance my skill set. In the end, I had already built a professional relationship with my lab coordinator and the many other people I have met through this experience.
What advice do you have for other students interested in gaining research experience?
My advice would be to step out of your comfort zone and reach out to professors or graduate students who are conducting a research lab that interests you. If a certain lab does not meet your expectations, do not be so quick to throw it away. Instead, keep an open mind because every research lab experience is valuable. Whether you are working directly with participants or analyzing data, the skills that you gain or enhance through any research opportunity are ones you can take with you and apply to your future career.