Dana Bowen

Professor Jennifer Warren
Aresty Research Professor Jennifer Warren
Aresty Research Assistant 2010 – 2011
General Research Assistant 2011 - 2012
Aresty Peer Advisor 2011 - 2012

It was when I came to Rutgers University as freshman in 2009 that I found out Rutgers is a research university. Even so, I figured that aspect of the university had nothing to do with me because “research” was for the graduates and professors in labs, with chemicals, medicine, lab rats, and human subjects. By the end of my first semester, I met a junior who told me about the Aresty Research Center for Undergraduates. Although I was somewhat intimidated by the idea of research, talking with my peer eased some of the anxiety. Contrary to my thoughts, there are undergraduates participating in research.

After looking into what the Aresty program had to offer, I decided that this is something I can actually manage. I had just finished a 200-level writing course, introductory psychology, and a basic statistics course. With these courses under my belt I felt secure enough to take on such a learning opportunity. During the application process I chose a topic that was relatable because of personal life experiences, yet innovative enough to keep me interested. I finally submitted my application to the Aresty Undergraduate Research office. A few days later I received an e-mail from Dr. Jennifer Warren of the School of Communication and Information, welcoming me to join her on her research project: Smoking Cessation for African-Americans Living with HIV. I was thrilled to be selected, eager to embark on such a dynamic learning experience of a topic I had interest in. The days of learning only what was assigned, with time constraints on what had to be covered on a syllabus, were not obliterated, but they were sure would not be my only college experience!

During the summer, I informed myself on the background knowledge of the research topic, as well as the ethical principles of research with the articles Dr. Warren provided. By the start of my sophomore year, I was fully enrolled as a Research Assistant with Aresty. I met with Dr. Warren bi-weekly and attended helpful bi-weekly meetings with my peers conducted by my peer advisor. Although I was principally working Dr. Warren, Aresty provided the opportunity and helped ease me into the research process as the year progressed. While working with Dr. Warren, I wrote many abstracts, literature reviews, met with a representative of a relative organization, transcribed interviews, and coded data, all without working in a lab! I was actively doing research and contributing to my community. At the peer review meetings, I was prepped to present my research at the end of the year to my colleagues, professors, and judges at the Aresty Research Symposium.

The entire research experience was life-changing, broadening my outlook on higher education and opening the doors to many other opportunities. Today, I am a declared Public Health major with newfound aspirations of attending graduate school for a Masters in Science degree. I am still working with Dr. Warren on her research, but this year we will be presenting at the National Communication Association Convention in Louisiana. Also, I am now working with the Aresty Undergraduate Research Center as a Peer Advisor for this year’s Research Assistants. I am proud to be a part of this organization, and I would encourage every undergraduate student to get involved and venture out into this unique form of their educational experience at Rutgers University. The future is always ahead of us, but will always need our open minds.