Entering college, I knew I wanted to find some kind of research to get involved with. I was willing to take any research, whether in my field or barely related.
I took my first semester to explore, adjust, and figure out how I wanted research to impact my next four years. Second semester, I hit the ground running. On the first day of my Introduction to Forensics class, I spoke with my professor and he gave me some incredible contacts, but one really stood out— Professor Marciano, who was involved in DNA analysis (my dream job).
Right away, I sent him an email (which I revised about thirty times due to nervousness.) I waited anxiously for an email and eventually met with him. Coming into the semester, I was set and ready. I had my position in the lab and was eager to get started. But, I still had very little idea of what I was actually going to be doing. At our first meeting, I met the rest of the students who ended up all being graduate students. I felt overwhelmed and uninformed in comparison but I decided to change that.
Professor Marciano gave me a flash drive full of relevant (and some irrelevant) reading. After going through it, I was able to secure my own project—analyzing DNA sequences through an electronic document. This project allows me to learn what the data looks like, but rather than learn from a book, I was able to learn by doing. I already have a project lined up next semester, working with a graduate student on testing samples in a machine that many forensic labs across the country don’t even have yet. (SU has two!)
Although I am just beginning and still adjusting to the massive learning curve, I become more comfortable every day and know that by the time I am a senior, I will have completed research that I could never have imagined had I not decided to attend Syracuse.
While a bit awkward and uncomfortable at first, reaching out and making that first connection was the greatest decision I could have made, and I am beyond excited to see what opportunities will come up next.