2nd year Gorman Scholar Yash Chitgopekar (CCS Math Major) shares his experience in the Gorman Scholars program below! If you're curious about getting involved with a research internship, but not sure how it might benefit you, read on!
On the first day, it can be pretty hard to figure out why you're even there. By the second week, you're stuck in the mud; there's papers to be read and protocols to be learned, but progress seems like a long way off. But by the end, you've found out so much about what it's like to work in your lab's field: biopsychology, math, geochemistry, etc. Maybe you haven't found an answer to the problem you set out to solve, maybe you've learned it's not possible to solve right now. But that's not really the point.
Undergraduate research is all about growth and learning what's out there. I love robotics, but I'm a math major, and I never thought the two topics could be intertwined until my own research experience over the summer, when I interned in a lab that specialized in Control Theory and Automation. It can feel daunting to be thrown into an open-ended problem, but it does so much in teaching you how to work independently, be creative, and overcome obstacles. I can't even count the amount of times I struggled to abstract a certain result or make progress in designing an algorithm over the summer, but that's research: everyone struggles, and everyone learns.
The greatest part is that there are graduate students going through the same process too. Working with the PhDs and postdocs in my lab, just asking them questions, helped me dive deep and clear my perception of Control Theory, its applications, and the world of research in general. Later, the Gorman Program's funding even allowed me to attend a major research conference, and my experience over the summer allowed me to converse and network with experts from world-renowned universities! Without my undergrad research experience in the Gorman Scholar's Program, I wouldn't have encountered any of these people or this exciting field. Honestly, it's entirely changed my trajectory at UCSB for the better!