Becoming a Researcher During the COVID-19 Pandemic

—Samuel Mercer (Mentor: Nan Yi)
Samuel Mercer

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about abrupt change to traditional research approaches for undergraduate research. As a first-year undergraduate researcher who worked through the University of New Hampshire Innovation Scholars Program and through the Research Experience and Apprenticeship Program (REAP) for my projects Wireless Data Processing System for IoT-Enabled Devices and the Direct Conversion of Methane to Methanol Over Gold Catalysts, I learned how to adapt myself to optimize my time spent away from the physical laboratory. By setting up my own home equipment and by using the virtual medium, I conversed with research groups, tinkered with homemade projects prototypes, and thoroughly reviewed literature, allowing me to deeply familiarize myself with theory and experimental data to build hypotheses that I could later test in the laboratory. Such experiences showed me that research is versatile and constantly adapts between the disciplines. By overcoming the obstacles created by the pandemic, I learned skills that transformed my perspective toward research.

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