Gillen BrownYear in School: Senior
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mark Brodwin, Physics and Astronomy, College of Arts and Sciences
Ask Gillen a question.
Why is undergraduate research important to you?
Doing research gives me the skills to be successful in my career. It allows me to learn things I never would have learned in the classroom, and to get detailed feedback on my work that just isn't possible in the classroom. More importantly, it gives me the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the astronomy research going on at UMKC, and to the astronomy community as a whole. Doing work that others find both important and useful is very rewarding.
How did you find your mentor?
The astronomy department has research tutorials, which teach students how to use the tools astronomers use. I went through those, then met with both of the astronomy professors to see who had projects I would be interested in. I then decided to work with the professor whose research interests aligned more closely with my own.
How did you determine what your particular research project would be?
My advisor had an idea for a project that needed to be done by someone in the Galaxy Evolution Group, and it seemed like a good fit for me, so I took it on.
What have you gained from your undergraduate research experience?
Doing research as an undergrad has benefited me greatly. I am a more independent worker now, and know how to attack problems. I have also gained invaluable experience at using the tools astronomers use, as well as working on the type of problems that astronomers face. In research, there isn't an answer in the back of the book. You have to be very careful not to fool yourself into thinking your results are better than they are. This has helped me be more self-critical, and to always try to poke holes in my own work. I'm much more thorough and detailed in my work as a result.