Undergraduate Research by Graduation Year

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2023


Suyash Deshmukh (he/him/his)

Research Advisor: Prof. Daniela Calzetti

Project:

Using HST observations of M83 to get the clearing timescale for Infrared-selected star clusters. Made a catalog of these young sources and got 93 sources younger than 5 Myr and 58 sources younger than 3 Myr, greatly increasing the number of sources in these age ranges compared to previous literature on M83. Determined that the majority of the young clusters lose their dust by 3 Myr, agreeing with clearing timescales found before, but providing a tighter constraint.

Skills Developed:

Improved my Python coding skills as well as data analysis skills. Learned to work with HST data and greatly improved my scientific writing skills while writing a paper for publication. Developed communication / interpersonal skills by collaborating with people.

Advice for undergrads:

Break challenges down into smaller chunks to make them easier to handle, and never be afraid to ask questions! Getting into research might seem daunting but you just need consistent effort to overcome that initial hurdle and do new science!


Samuel Millstone

Research Advisor: Robert Gutermuth

Project:

For my research, I investigated various star-gas properties in a giant molecular cloud simulation from the STAR FORmation in Gaseous Environments (STARFORGE) project by creating synthetic observations and comparing the results with data from the Spitzer and Herschel Space Telescopes. I determined that the simulation reproduces many of the trends observed in real clouds, though discrepancies still exist. My findings should provide constraints on parameters for future simulations.

Skills Developed:

I greatly improved my proficiency with Python and coding in general, specifically working with large simulated data sets and constructing analysis pipelines. I also became much more familiar with navigating and running programs using Linux. And, I improved my writing and communication skills by giving talks about my research and especially by preparing and publishing my first research paper based on this project.

Advice for Undergrads:

Get started with research early! It's ok to start small, but I waited until Junior year and regretted it. Reaching out can be intimidating, but all you need to do is find a few professors whose research seems interesting. Take a look at their papers (it's ok if you barely understand anything) and send emails asking to discuss along with some questions. If the first meeting goes well, ask if they are willing to do a research project with you. Also, it's not all about classes and research: join some clubs, go to Music & Dance Department performances, play a sport, and enjoy your time at UMass (and get a YCMP meal plan if you can, the other campus dining locations are way better than the Dining Commons)!


Tim McQuaid (he/him)

Research Advisor: Daniela Calzetti

Project:

For my research, I studied the young cluster population of the nearby dwarf starburst galaxy NGC4449. Through analyzing the properties of these young clusters, I derived gas clearing times for these clusters, a key factor in the system of feedback mechanisms which govern the evolution of galaxies.

Skills Developed:

Conducting research, I honed my technical skills: working with astronomical data from HST and JWST, employing techniques such as measuring photometry and model fitting. I developed my scientific writing skills through the preparation of a paper for publication. Collaborating with Professor Calzetti and other astronomers in our group allowed me to improve my communication skills, teamwork, and networking capabilities.

Advice for undergrads:

Getting involved in research may seem daunting, but you can easily get started by expressing your interest in research to your professors whose work interests you. Be prepared to work hard, but I think it’s very fulfilling work since it gives purpose to the things you learn in the classroom. Be proactive and engaged, approach problems with curiosity and an open mind, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Research is a process of discovery, and every question can lead to new insights. Your research advisor is always there to help guide you, but they also appreciate students who show initiative and a willingness to learn.


Liam Yanulis

Research Advisor: Daniel Wang

Project:

For my research, I investigated X-ray emission from 43 active galactic nuclei (AGNs) by comparing observations from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the ESA's X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission. Although these X-ray sources are very faint, determining upper limits on their properties provides insight into the growth of black holes across cosmic time.

Skills Developed:

In order to automate the tasks in the command line, I greatly improved my programming skills by learning Bash Shell scripting and integrating it with Python. Due to the sheer volume of data, I also improved my organizational skills through both file management and data analysis in Excel.

Advice for undergrads:

Take every challenge one step at a time, even if the path to success is unclear. Do the best you can, and try to get involved in the incredible opportunities available through the astronomy department. Attend the Five College Astronomy Club!


Andrew Wright (he/him)

Research Advisor: Daniel Wang

Project:

In my research, I am using hydrodynamic simulations to simulate observations of Sgr A* using the XRISM Resolve instrument and Lynx LXM main array. With the support of SOXS software, the NASA Massachusetts Space Grant Funding, and the David J Van Blerkom Research Scholarship, these synthetic observations not only aid in determining the observational capabilities and design intricacies of future X-ray telescopes but also shed light on the intricate dynamics surrounding Sgr A* and the accuracies of our hydrodynamic models.

Skills Developed:

This project has significantly improved my Python skills, as well as provided me with in-depth learning of the Simulated Observations of X-ray Sources (SOXS) framework. I also learned a lot about working with other astronomers outside of UMass and helped me make great connections that I can take with me throughout my career.

Advice for undergrads:

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Make use of the resources you have, especially the awesome capabilities of the Five College Astronomy Department (FCAD). There is a plethora of professors to work with in all five colleges as well as a summer internship opportunity. The Five Colleges also lets you try out different fields in astronomy which I highly suggest. If you are interested in working with someone reach out and take initiative, the professors and graduate students want to help you!


Giselle Hoermann (she/her)

Research Advisor: Daniel Wang

Project:

Analyzing Sagittarius A* using Chandra

Skills Developed:

Problem solving, Communication

Advice for undergrads:

The beginning is the hardest, everything will become clear.


Lillian Wright (she/her)

Research Advisor: Kate Whitaker

Project:

Summer 2020 I performed research remotely as an intern within the Five College Astronomy Department under Professor Kate Whitaker with the support of NASA Massachusetts Space Grant Funding and the David J Van Blerkom Research Scholarship. The primary goal of my research project is to use EAzY, a photometric redshift fitting software developed by Brammer et al (2008), to scan the background of eight Hubble Space Telescope images of lensed galaxy clusters from the REQUIEM Galaxy Survey in search of high redshift (z>5) candidates.

Skills Developed:

Through this project, I became proficient with Python, I learned how to work within a research group, I learned how to present my research (the internship ended with an undergraduate astronomy department presentation seminar), and I learned how to manage my time as a full-time researcher.

Advice for undergrads:

Find someone in your department who you really admire and who's research really inspires you and start from there. It never hurts to ask if a professor is looking to take on undergraduates. A lot of times the answer is yes because faculty are understanding of the fact that everyone has to start somewhere. Even if the answer is no, just keep looking until you find someone who is willing to take you on. Start small and work steadily towards your goals, go at your own pace.

2022


Rucellie Jimenez

Research advisor: Alexandra Pope

Project:

Currently I am working on calculating the mass of dust in the interstellar medium of high redshift dusty luminous galaxies using data from the ALMA telescope. The amount of dust in galaxies can tell us about how much fuel there is to create stars. Furthermore we can measure how efficiently high and low redshift galaxies create their stars.

Skills Developed:

Working in Pope Lab has allowed me to employ and strengthen my python skills. I also feel more confident in the research world due to this experience. Handling astrophysical images. Before this I didn’t have experience speaking about research. Now I have learned more about how to articulate myself when it comes to science subjects.Understanding peer reviewed scientific journal articles

Advice for undergrads:

Do the little things! For example: going to office hours can be beneficial in other ways than coursework help. This can help build connections within the department. Step out of your comfort zone often. A lot of research opportunities have come from trial and error. Do not be afraid to fail! Often, success is around the corner. Don’t let imposter syndrome win. This is easier said than done but a positive mentality can dominate the way you function. Be kind to yourself and rely on your community to uplift you.


Caleigh Ryan

Caleigh Ryan

Research Advisor: Grant Wilson

Project:

For my research, I am simulating TolTEC observations of nearby dwarf galaxies using existing Herschel SPIRE images as input. Using the simulations, I am then investigating how well we can recover the dust temperature, spectral index, and column density using least-squares and hierarchical Bayesian approaches. By comparing results after introducing different atmospheric contributions to the simulation, I will describe how these different noise conditions bias the recovered parameters.

Skills Developed:

While working on this project, I have developed Python skills to prepare the input data for the simulations and analyze the output data. It has also provided great experience working with a research group and some hands-on experience over the summer. I helped disassemble and pack TolTEC ahead of its shipment to the LMT.

Advice for undergrads:

Try to attend talks and seminars where professors present their research. It’s a great way to get an idea of what people are working on and find someone you would like to have as an advisor. Reading about someone’s work is a start, but hearing them talk about it in person will give you a much better picture of what they do and what they are like.


Emily Martsen

Emily Martsen

Research Advisor: Grant Wilson

Project:

Characterizing the ability to remove dusty star forming galaxy (DSFG) contamination from simulated TolTEC observations of galaxy clusters and the extent to which DSFGs bias TolTEC's ability to recover intrinsic galaxy cluster parameters using the Sunyaev-Zel'Dovich effect.

Skills Developed:

This project drastically improved my skill with Python, particularly in using astropy and Plotly Dash, as well gave me experience using the Linux subsystem Ubuntu and the source extractor software SExtractor. Additionally, due to using simulated data, I learned how to simulate images using the TolTEC Simulator and how to determine mapping parameters for actual observations in the process.

Advice for undergrads:

Don't compare yourself and your research experience to others. Everyone starts somewhere and professors here want to help you. Even if you have no prior experience, it's always worth it to talk to someone whose research interests you. The professors are all super friendly and even if they themselves aren't taking on undergraduates at the moment, they might be able to point you to someone else who does similar research.


Meredith Stone

Research Advisor: Alex Pope

Project:

I study the balance between star formation and supermassive black hole activity in infrared-bright dusty star-forming galaxies in the local Universe. If we understand this relationship in galaxies today, we can trace it back through cosmic time to explain how galaxies have evolved over the history of the Universe.

Skills Developed:

My project is computational, so I’ve gained a lot of Python experience over the last two years. More abstractly, I’ve learned not only how to manage my time but my tasks: I get to be an active participant in deciding what I do, and I’ve become more comfortable weighing in over time.

Advice for undergrads:

I recommend coming to colloquium, Journal Club, and other events to start to learn about professors and what they study. You’ll also learn a lot about different astronomy topics, which might help you decide what area of astronomy you’d like to research.


Shamus Flynn

Shamus Flynn

Research Advisor: Daniel Wang

Project:

I am studying the coupling between diffuse X-ray emissions and stellar feedback from large mass stars in the galaxy M51 with data collected by the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Skills Developed:

The bulk of my research involves manipulating the terminal in Linux Ubuntu, which was completly new to me when I started. I am now proficient in terminal commands and commands in the CIAO program, used to work with Chandra data in the terminal. I have also started recently working a lot with astropy in python.

Advice for Undergrads:

Do not be shy when you have questions. It may seem scary at first to reach out to the Grad students in your lab or group, but they were once in your shoes and are happy to answer your questions, as fundamental or mundane as they may seem. Once I realized this fact, my skills begain to grow faster and faster and I was able to learn much easier.

2021


Jea Adams (she/her)

Research Advisor: Alex Pope

Project:

In the history of the universe, the epoch of 6 billion years to 3 billion years before the present date is marked by a significant decrease in the rate of star formation in galaxy clusters. This is in stark contrast to the still rampant star formation in isolated galaxies. In my research with Prof. Alex Pope, I investigated how dust and gas emission change during this period, and whether dust depletion is to be blamed for the lack of star formation in galaxy clusters.

Skills Developed:

Professor Pope guided me in using bootstrapping and binning techniques to increase the signal of detections in our dataset. These statistical techniques were quite new to me, but turned out to be essential for our analyses. Now, I continually see examples of their applications in other fields of research.

Advice for Undergrads:

Professors are generally really kind, and always excited to talk about their research. Definitely reach out to people who work on problems you find interesting and ask them about the work they do. As an example, I first got interested in Professor Pope’s research after listening to her give a talk at colloquium. She was happy to chat with me after, and allowed me to sit in one of her group meetings. This was a great way for me to see what the people in her group work on day to day.


Manesh Mishra

Manesh Mishra

Research Advisor: Daniel Wang

Project:

Effects of galaxy's inclination on X-ray absorption.

Skills Developed:

The key skills that I learned during my research experience was to understand the given problem, extract the possible information from various sources such as online, literature, professors, etc. and integrate them to our work. Also, I developed the abillity to be patient during repetitive tasks. Objectively, I learned to use different OS including Mac and Linux; programming languages such as python and C-shell; and online astonomical databases.

Advice for Undergrads:

Take on every research opportunity you can get. Research is very different from what we typically do in the classroom studies. We are much independent and our success floats on how well we are motivated to learn independently and able to apply the skill that we learn along the way. It makes us excited and proud with every new findings. Also, research is not simply coming up with hypotheses or ideas and expecting it to go smoothly from point A to B. Sometimes, things may not go quite well and deviate to a whole new conclusion than what we anticipated; that is what makes research so unique. We not only proceed with our ideas but also discover unexpected results and methods to overcome certain obstacles. Who knows, what great invention may lead from such accidents.

2020


figure 1figure 2

Owen Henry

Research Advisor: Dr. Alexandra Pope

Project:

The projects that I worked on under Professor Pope’s guidance sought to gain insight on the formation and evolution of galaxies: how the universe has evolved from early times to the present day, and what the most influential parameters are that drive large scale evolution. In particular I worked on a project testing the accuracy of a modelling software called CIGALE and another that is a part of a larger collaboration investigating images of galaxy clusters categorized as “massive and distant” at a variety of redshifts in order to put together a picture of cosmological evolution.

Skills Developed:

Of course, I learned more about how to work with a team and be a member of the Department of Astronomy at UMass in my time doing research. The biggest technical skill I gained throughout my time, however, was in computer programming. Particularly manipulating data in Python. This knowledge is widely applicable and can be used in a range disciplines outside of the scope of astronomy. But more importantly I learned how to read and digest scientific papers and materials. I learned how to extract information, draw out my own conclusions, and then apply these ideas to my own work. In my opinion this is the most important skill I learned at school: how to be an active member of the scientific community

Advice for Undergrads:

Step number one is put yourself out there. Even though your professors might appear to be intimidating, they want you to succeed as much as you do. Approach them and ask if they have time to take on a new student for research. If you are denied the first time: rinse and repeat. The faculty and staff at the Five College Astronomy Department are incredibly kind and nurturing folks. They want you to get involved. All you have to do is be willing to try something new and maybe step out of your comfort zone a little. If you do these things, I know you’ll find success at the Department


Zoe Kearney

Zoe Kearney (she/her)

Research Advisor: Alexandra Pope

Project:

I explored the impact of environment on dusty star forming galaxies in the COSMOS field. I used pre-existing surveys and 3D density maps to examine star formation rate (SFR) as a function of local density for different masses and redshifts. With access to far infrared data for the sample, we were able to look at how properly accounting for the obscured star formation changes the trends of SFR versus density by comparing to similar studies done in literature.

Skills Developed:

The most important skill I developed in this project was being able to create a network of python scripts to do my analysis efficiently and accurately. Synthesizing information from relevant literature was another skill I developed, especially during the writing up of my project as my senior honors thesis.

Advice for Undergrads:

Go for projects and opportunities that challenge you. Pushing through challenges is one of the best learning experiences you can go through as a young researcher. At the same time never sell yourself short of what you are capable of.


Kenneth Lin (he/him)

Research Advisor: Alexandra Pope

Project:

While I was involved in a number of projects at UMass, my culminating work was on developing simulations for the TolTEC instrument, in preparation for the surveys it will conduct with the Large Millimeter Telescope. These simulations were aimed at determining the effects of multiplicity and confusion in the TolTEC beam. Using my simulations, we predicted the expected completeness and reliability levels of different source extraction parameters and make recommendations on best practices for optimizing source detection and quantifying biases.

Skills Developed:

Working on computationally intensive projects trained me in practical programming skills that are not typically taught in the academic curriculum for physics majors. Manipulating large datasets compels you to think about how to most efficiently structure programs for solving what would otherwise be an intractable problem. These are invaluable technical skills that are prerequisite for both research and industry applications. Conducting research has also enabled me to become a more independent and creative thinker—there are no instruction guides in research because you are at the forefront.

Advice for Undergrads:

Be curious and be prepared! You might not know what you are interested in initially but look around and skim the papers that faculty have published. Reach out to professors whose research looks interesting and ask for a meeting to learn more about it—they are extremely willing to discuss their work with you and showing your interest by having some idea of what they do is an impressive first impression. If you are interested in their research, ask to see if they have a project that you can help with. There are always faculty available who are more than willing to take on an undergrad for a research assistantship, you just need to ask.


Savio Oliveira

Savio Oliveira (he/him)

Research Advisor: Robert Gutermuth

Project:

Combine Spitzer data with Gaia DR2 to constrain the distance distribution of the more exposed young stellar objects (YSOs) in the Mon R2 molecular cloud that have protoplanetary disks (based on the Spitzer data), and then we could try to find new members (either diskless, or those that were considered likely contaminants like active galaxies in the background).

Skills Developed:

Taking on a research project taught me a lot about the collaborative process that is so crucial to modern publications. Science is no longer a feasible task for lone wolves, it requires communication, compromise, and understanding between everyone. Personally I learned a lot of coding in the Python language, although everyone's experience will vary, I strongly suggest picking up a coding language and focusing on it.

Advice for Undergrads:

The first and most important step is to take a leap of faith, don't let the fear of rejection steer you away from contacting any of the professors in the department, not everyone will be able to give you the opportunity that you want but you won't know that until you reach out. Second: don't be afraid of not knowing everything right away, that is what getting research experience is about. Apply to that REU that you;'re unsure of, send an email to every professor in the department until you get a nibble. Everyone has to start somewhere.


Yuxuan Zeng (he/him)

Research Advisor: Daniel Wang

Project:

My research has been focused on the diffuse X-ray emission from nearby galaxies. We know that for spiral galaxies X-ray morphology is tight correlated to HII regions and so we want to know what causes this. I constructed RGB images, surface brightness profiles, spectra, and temperature maps. RGB images are composite images of different wavelengths. We aim to compare the morphology of gas observed at different wavelengthes. Surface brightness profiles help us to calculate the relationship of the x-ray energy output to young stars. Spectroscopic analyses allow us to know the abundances of the element w.r.t solar, the temperature of the hot plasma and so on. Temperature map is constructed from fitting the spectrum at each pixel. I continue to work with Professor Wang after my graduation and hope to get a paper published.

Skills Developed:

I have achieved and learned a lot during this project, I learned how to process data and many basic unix commands, got familiarized with the linux system, learned how to use CIAO and xspec softwares, how to write my own python code, and how writing scientifically by using LaTeX.

Advice for Undergrads:

Don't hesitate, just send an email to professors and introduce yourself, then tons of research opportunities await.

2019


Sam Clyne (he/him)

Research Advisor: Professor Min Yun

Project:

My research project was to develop a method to blindly search for new objects in ALMA data using a blind clump-finding algorithm. The package produced spectra as well as moment maps of objects and matched significant peaks in the spectra plots to the closest emission line from an ALMA database.

Skills Developed:

This project taught me many coding skills. In addition to general python experience, this project helped me develop my ability to independently research and implement different python packages and to write clear, well documented code. The project also helped me learn to read academic papers and how to engage others about research.

Advice for Undergrads:

Don't let feeling under-qualified stop you from pursuing research. Every advisor wants you to succeed and get something valuable out of your experience whether the project gets published or not. If you reach out and show that you're passionate about the field, your advisor will help you develop the skills you need along the way.


Silvana Delgado Andrade (she/her)

Research Advisor: Min Yun

Project:

I characterized the mass distribution and overdensity of galaxy companions within the 1 Mpc radius of the massive dust star-forming galaxies at z > 2, identified by their rest frame far-IR luminosity (ULIRGs/SMGs). I derived astrometry and photometry of the IR sources using the archival ALMA data and analyzed the stellar properties of companions using archival HST images and published multi-wavelength photometry catalog.

Skills Developed:

Through this project I developed computational techniques to do image analysis on multi-wavelength data. I did a senior research project and investigated galaxy formation and its conditions at high-redshift. It was an extremely valuable experience as I began to understand the intricacies of galaxy classification and astronomical research.

Advice for Undergrads:

Get involved with the department and apply to everything! It is never too early (or late) to start, no matter your level of research experience. If you don't know how, talk to professors, upperclassmen, graduate students and ask them about their research and different opportunities. Everyone is incredibly helpful and always willing to help.

2018


Alan Braeley (he/him)

Research Advisor: Professor Grant Wilson

Project:

I worked primarily on the copper straps which serve as connections between various rigid structures inside of the TolTEC cryogenic camera. It is necessary to cool the camera down in order for it to observe in the targeted range on the light spectrum: millimeter-wavelength light. Different materials expand and contract at differing rates as a function of temperature. However, when a camera like TolTEC requires the use of various materials, a flexible copper strap such as the ones we used serve as both flexible and effective thermal connections.

Skills Developed:

This project taught me a wide breadth of things: the basics of lab safety, basic machining (I broke so many drill bits) to include machines like lathes, power drills, and presses, and finally Professor Wilson ensured everyone in the laboratory had some basic experience writing scripts. In my case this was necessary to calibrate thermometers.

Advice for Undergrads:

Be enthusiastic about what you want research experience in. Want to study cosmology? Know which faculty share this interest and reach out to them. Do not expect the opportunities to find you! Learn to code. Python would be a very good starting point as it is currently one of the most popular tools for processing and analyzing data in the sciences and has far-reaching applications outside academia as well and can serve as a considerable strength both to Professors looking for potential research assistants as well as employers after college.


Kendall Sullivan

Research Advisor: Daniel Wang

Project:

I worked collaboratively in a small group to develop a new analysis technique using radio polarization observations to identify the signs of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) in edge-on galaxies.

Skills Developed:

This was my first research project, so I developed a huge variety of skills. I already knew how to code, but more fully developed my technical skills like coding and data analysis and reduction. I also learned a lot about scientific communication by working on the project in a group, and by communicating my work in both written and presentation formats.

Advice for Undergrads:

Get involved early and try out different projects! Learning early on if you like research can help you decide a career path with the maximum amount of information (e.g., if you don't like research, probably don't plan on grad school), and trying multiple projects can expose you to many different subfields and techniques. Also, if you're looking to start research later in your undergraduate career, just go for it! It's never too late to try research out. Publication: "CHANG-ES - VIII. Uncovering hidden AGN activity in radio polarization”, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 464, 1333

2017


Dylan Paré

Dylan Paré

Research Advisor: Daniel Wang

Project:

I studied the magnetic field orientations in the haloes of distant, edge-on spiral galaxies. We studied the magnetic field orientation using non-thermal polarized intensity emission obtained from the galactic haloes and obtained rotation measure values from the data. We were able to study two galactic haloes for inclusion in a publication as part of the CHANG-ES collaboration. Publication: Irwin et al. (2017), MNRAS, 464, 1333

Skills Developed:

Learned how to calibrate, image, and analyze radio data. Learned the details of rotation measure and RM-Synthesis for extracting magnetic field properties. Gained experience writing a scientific paper.

Advice for Undergrads:

If there is someone who's research you're interested, just plan to stop by their office at some point and ask them about it. Professors are really friendly and love to talk about their work, so they should be pretty welcoming!

2014


Marie Calapa

Research Advisor: Daniela Calzetti

Project:

With Dr. Calzetti, I worked on two projects, both of which were related to dust in other galaxies and their possible connections to star formation. I began the first project in my sophomore year when I approached Dr. Calzetti to see if there was any research I could possibly help with at the time. She suggested a study into the dust emission in the nearby galaxy M33 to see whether certain IR signatures correlated with star formation or not. I was able to wrap this project up before my senior year and write and publish a paper on my findings in APJ. My next project with Dr. Calzett I built upon the skills I had developed and in this project I continued to study interstellar dust and stellar populations. This project became my honors thesis and investigated the effect of old stellar populations on the Schmidt-Kennicutt Law in NGC628 with plans to extend this research to other galaxies.

Skills Developed:

Prior to these projects, I had very little experience with data processing and analysis through the use of computer programming such as IDL or python. I learned a lot about coding on the job as I processed raw image files into workable data and performed calculations via programs I wrote to extract information from the images. I also became familiar with how to research and read literature from the astronomy community in order to learn more about my research area specifically. There were also a lot of opportunities to practice communication about research with other astronomers, not only at UMass Amherst, but with colleagues from other institutions that I would meet at conventions and internships. An invaluable skill that came from attending such meetings was developing the ability to summarize and explain my research and findings to others in the scientific community via presentations and posters. This culminated in publishing a research paper in APJ and presenting my findings as an honors thesis.

Advice for Undergrads:

My advice is to not be worried that you may not be perfectly experienced to get started with research at an early stage. Much of what you will need to know will be learned on the job and your research advisor will help and support you as you gain the skills you need to perform research. Communication with your research advisor is also key; it’s much better to ask for help if you are stuck than to put off the project due to uncertainty of the next step you should take. I also highly recommend applying to many outside research opportunities such as summer REUs or internships. Not only do you get to build your skill set without distraction during the summer, you get to live in a new place and meet new people in your field that may become great friends.