Last semester, one of my professors announced in class that if we were interested in writing a SURF Grant, we should talk to her to get a little more information. Before our first meeting, she had me read a bit about what a SURF Grant is and how to go about applying for one (You can find out more about what a SURF Grant is here and how to apply: http://www.unh.edu/undergrad-research/summer-undergraduate-research-fellowships-surf)
First my professor, now my faculty mentor, had me come up with a list of things related to my Exercise Science major that interest me. I knew I liked stretching and yoga so I came up research questions like, how does static stretching vs. dynamic stretching affect workout performance? For one reason or another, I wasn’t satisfied with the questions I came up with or they were too logistically complex, which has made me believe that brainstorming these ideas has been the hardest part of the grant process because there are so many different facets to exercise and fitness and I couldn’t focus my attention to just one idea.
Finally, my faculty mentor asked me to do research on a very specific topic, which was Intermuscular Adipose Tissue, or the fatty tissue that forms between muscles in older adults as they become inactive. I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to have some sort of direction. In addition to giving me a topic, my faculty mentor asked me to come up with a few research questions that pertained to the topic but were still interesting to me, something I could see myself researching for a whole summer. However, my faculty mentor gave me an excellent piece of advice that I tried to keep in mind as I was brainstorming research questions, “You aren’t trying to win the Nobel Prize.” This little bit of advice is so true. I’m not going to win the Nobel Prize with my first research project. It’s not going to be ground breaking or earth shattering, but it will be my own project that means something to me. It will be a small, manageable project that will help me gain research experience and explore a career path in research.
Currently, I am working on writing the grant proposal, which is time consuming, challenging, and sometimes frustrating but definitely worth every minute of it. Even if I don’t get the grant, I will be able to say that I have written a grant it was a worthwhile experience.