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Research Rookies expands to include more Huskies

March 23, 2020

The conclusion of one NIU program leads to an expansion of another program.

Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) will no longer be offered, making way for a new and improved Research Rookies program. Beginning this coming fall, Research Rookies will now accept applications from all undergraduate students – not only freshmen and transfer students – who are able to make a one-year commitment to the program.

“Undergraduate research is considered a high impact activity, meaning the experience is known to have a transformative influence on students’ personal development and educational growth,” said Destiny McDonald, associate director, Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning. “Through Research Rookies, students gain important skills that employers seek in new graduates such as problem solving, organization, communication, presentation and critical thinking skills.”

Research Rookies is a unique program that allows undergraduate students to work alongside faculty mentors in their major or area of interest to conduct a small-scale research project. No matter what college, year in school, department or major, any Huskie can apply to be a Research Rookie.

“This expansion will allow students who decide later on in their college career that they would like to engage in a research experience the opportunity to do so,” McDonald said.

Students have a chance to deepen their knowledge of their career field and build their professional network. That was the case for NIU senior, Austin Vickery, who worked alongside NIU associate professor, Wesley Swingley, of the department of biological sciences.

Professor Wesley Swingley and Austin Vickery, a Public Health junior student work on their research of microbal dark matter at Montgomery Hall during the Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) at NIU.

“Not only was I able to contribute to projects in Dr. Swingley’s lab, but I was also able to write my own research proposal and network with other undergraduate researchers,” Vickery said. “Immersing myself into the field of research is the most beneficial aspect of the program.”

Vickery said another key benefit of the program is that it allows undergraduates the opportunity to explore a career in research before committing to graduate program.

McDonald shared the sentiment.

“While we recognize there is a variety of independent research happening on campus, Research Rookies provides a guided experience outside of the classroom,” McDonald said. “This includes research interest exploration, guidance on research process and professional development workshops to complement the faculty-mentored research experience which is what makes this program unique.”

The deadline to apply is July 15, 2020. Go to Research Rookies to learn more.