- Name: Jonatan Pérez
- Year: 2016
- Concentration: History and Ethnic Studies
1. What type of research experiences have you been involved with during your time in college?
During my time at Brown I have been involved in several different research experiences. During the summer after my freshman year I was extremely fortunate to work on the creation of a syllabus for a course on the history of immigration with Dr. Evelyn Hu-Dehart through a Brown UTRA. This first research experience then allowed me to pursue research through the Leadership Alliance, a consortium of schools which offer research opportunities to underrepresented minorities in higher education with the goal of increasing the numbers of URM’s pursuing higher education. The summer after my sophomore year I participated in research at Princeton University and the summer after my junior year I was at Stanford University. Although the program varies a bit from school to school, typically you are paired with a faculty member who mentors your own project or whose project you work on. Along with this research you are provided with networking opportunities and seminars regarding graduate school life and the application process.
2. How did you find out about this opportunity?
I actually found out about the Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards (UTRA) just from looking at Brown’s Fellowship page which has plenty of great opportunities. As for the Leadership Alliance I learned about this during the Third World Transition Program. They had an internship panel and one of the panelists was a student who had done the program the summer before. Although I didn’t end up applying to it that year, I saved the information and ended up applying the year after.
3. What is your favorite part about conducting research?
I think that my favorite part of research is when the puzzle all starts to come together. Many times when conducting research it feels like no matter how much you read or investigate that you are making no progress. It’s only once you get to that certain chapter, open that one box in the archive or happen upon a random document that it all starts to come together and make sense. These moments truly validate all the hard work you have been doing.
4. What has it been like presenting your work?
Presenting my work is both nerve-wracking and exciting. Nerve-wracking because presenting academic work to your peers is very intimidating and you never know the reaction you’ll get. On the other hand, it is very exciting because while doing research allows you to work on stuff that may not have been investigated before the most rewarding part of research is sharing this new found knowledge with not only your peers but other audiences as well. It is extremely fulfilling to give a presentation on your work and see your audience just as captivated and excited about it as you.
5. Any advice for students looking to find out what research interests them?
I think that it is important to go into research with an open mind and with lots of questions. Talk with as many professors as you can and ask them what they research and why they conduct this research. Many of the best research projects I have undertaken have come from conversations with other professors who have pointed me to a certain person, book, archive, or even document.