The second year of the BETA Project has been eventful, with significant progress on each of the three research projects. The main highlight of the year was taking Jessica, Riley, and Juliana to Columbus, Ohio to work in the clean lab at OSU. Within my own research experience, I’ve always enjoyed collecting samples in the field, selecting where to drill the hand samples, processing the samples in the clean lab, and running them on the mass spectrometer. Taking samples from the field to the data presented in manuscripts and at conferences is a satisfying experience, and I enjoyed teaching our team about how much work goes into a single datum.
Our BETA team is excellent at taking advantage of opportunities as they come up. I would advise any future team member to just take a deep breath and dive into the challenges and opportunities as they arise. Field work can be fun, but it can also be cold and frustrating. Lab work can be almost cathartic when everything is working well, but the minute something goes wrong, you have to adapt. This is the nature of scientific research, and it makes it different from many carefully designed exercises within a classroom. Be prepared to adjust your expectations, maintain a positive attitude, and remember each bump in the road is its own learning experience.
The second year of the BETA Project saw significant progress across all three aspects of the project. The final integration of the stratospheric aerosol chamber has expanded the capabilities of the lab to literal new heights. This year also saw the submission of the first publication of the group, for which we are eagerly awaiting reviews. One of the exciting aspects of the project for me is getting to help with field work. As a laboratory chemist, going out to collect samples is a new experience for me. In addition to photo-documenting the trips, field work has forced me to step outside my normal comfort zone and learn new sample handling techniques.
As an advisor to the group, watch the way a group of students comes together as a team over the course of the year is always amazing. It was very clear during the final outings, that the students had become a close knit group of young researchers. Many of the students have shown a high aptitude for problem solving and are always looking for new ways to look at the problems the group is investigating. Even though some projects, like aerosol creation or fog collection, can take months before sampling pays off, the patience shown by the students and their understanding that research can be slow and monotonous process, truly showed how mature and capable they can be.
Over my year in BETA I have learned a lot of fun, interesting things that I would not have learned without the program. Through BETA I was able to get through my first year of undergraduate research and was able to gain a lot of hands-on experience. I learned a lot about independent research over the year, and am sure that these skills will carry on to my success in the future! Most importantly, however, was how much fun I had with other members of the BETA group. Everyone was also so kind and friendly, and it was always exciting to hear what work the different parts of the team have been working on.
I decided to join the BETA project because I found the research topics fascinating and liked the idea of being a part of an interdepartmental project where I could work on a variety of projects. Throughout my first semester, I learned a lot and gained many experiences. I worked on the aerosol portion of the project, and my favorite part was learning how to run the chamber. I loved learning about all of the components and how much goes into making a single sample. I also got to help with a lot of the changes we made to the chamber this semester, like adding cryo capabilities so we could run samples at subzero temperatures. Being a part of BETA has definitely sparked my interest in this kind of research. Prior to joining, I really had no idea how people studied things like far off planets or ancient Earth. Now that I have had this glimpse into how it can be done I have a desire to look into similar research projects as I begin to plan my career path. Overall, I have found being a part of BETA to be an all-around enriching experiencing and I look forward to being a part of the team in the future.
I joined BETA because I thought the subject material sounded interesting and I really liked that it is an interdisciplinary research project. Throughout the year, I’ve had the opportunity to present at a conference, go on a variety of quarry field trips, and use new instruments in lab. I’ve also gotten to work with professors and students that I might not have worked with otherwise, which has been fun. It’s been really interesting to be a part of research both from a group perspective as well as an individual perspective, and gain experience in multiple fields of lab work, since that will tie in nicely with where I envision my future going. I think my experience in BETA will definitely help me prepare for graduate school, as well as for further undergraduate research, and has made me into a more well-rounded student in science in general. I’m excited to see where the BETA research goes next year!
This has been quite the year in BETA. It’s been a little odd since I wasn’t a full research assistant like last year, and at the beginning I was worried that I wouldn’t have the same opportunities for involvement, but, thankfully, I was wrong. This year has been different than last year because I had a little more flexibility in my involvement. There was less pressure to schedule time around lab work, so I could focus on aspects I could really carry into my future career. However, that being said, I also just really love working on the BETA Project so I still may sure to volunteer for lab work! Specifically, the opportunity to do lab work at the OSU Radiogenic Isotope Lab was amazing! Going into college I would never in my wildest dreams have expected to take a trip like that! It was so fun and so educational and I’m very excited to take that kind of experience into the classroom. I am so thankful to have been a part of this project since its beginning and super stoked I get to help out in the fall before I leave Cedar Falls for student teaching. If I had a piece of advice for any student interested in joining the BETA Project it would be to go ahead and join because you’ll meet amazing people and study important topics that will broaden your understanding of the world in more ways than you can imagine. This project has been so fun and I’m excited to see what’s to come next!
One of the main reasons why I joined the BETA project was how much I enjoyed my REU experience in Nebraska and how valuable and fun I learned that interdisciplinary research studies are. I learned a lot of new things from the three parts of the project (aerosols, atmospheric and Devonian) but was mainly involved in the earth science and atmospheric research areas (with which I did not have any previous experience). With my background in chemistry, seeing a very real application outside the lab that included field work experiences and weather analysis at a global scale to understand the theoretical background of the research BETA is doing was very exciting. My favorite parts was the chemistry performed with the Devonian samples at The Ohio State University clean laboratory, learning about how to see and interpret weathering in sediment samples and learning about the motion of air cells in the world and what they tell us about the data we are collecting. There are really many valuable things I learned from working in the BETA project that choosing only one seems very restrictive, I enjoyed a lot of it!
The major impact the BETA project experiences will have in my life is broadening my perspectives in order to be able to analyze a problem also through the life sciences perspective and not only the material research science perspective I had before. This is very important since it is a basis for the understanding of the natural history of Earth. Being part of the BETA project has been a very valuable experience and I look forward to continue to work with BETA and explore more within the three areas of study. I have worked very little in the aerosol project but hopefully next year I will help out some more in this project too! For future students, my advice would be to have fun and ask a lot a questions! Even when you may feel uneasy at first and worried about what others would think about your questions, the truth is that by practicing making questions, a better understanding of what is going on can be obtained. Also, try to jump and learn about an area that you have no background on as this will push you harder and the experience will give you other tools of reasoning that will make you more versatile in a research environment.
I joined the BETA team, because it seemed like an exciting and inclusive research opportunity. I gained a lot of vastly different research experience which is one of my favorite parts of BETA. The learning curve of a the subject matter was definitely the most difficult part of the research. The advice I would give future BETA students would be to not procrastinate and keep a positive attitude if things don’t go your way.