This summer, Ansley Thomas is preparing for a future as a college professor by immersing herself in college education research. Thomas, a senior biology major, is participating in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at the University of Georgia.
“My favorite experience is being here surrounded by people who are passionate about teaching undergraduates and who demonstrate how invested and proactive they are about their teaching,” said Thomas.
Thomas is working side-by-side with Dr. Tessa Andrews, assistant professor of genetics at the University of Georgia, and Kelly Lane, a graduate student at the University of Georgia, on investigating the professional identities of graduate students.
“Specifically, we are interested in how they [graduate students] develop and what they look like when they do,” said Thomas. “I help mainly with data collection by finalizing the transcripts from our interviews and assisting with qualitative analysis coding.”
One of the most challenging aspects of Thomas’ work has been gaining familiarity and comfort with the qualitative data, which she shared, and is different from typical bench work in the way that it is handled, collected, analyzed and written. Fortunately, her coursework at Waynesburg has been helpful in providing her with a solid starting point.
“All of the biology courses I have taken give critical background knowledge for this kind of research,” said Thomas.
Thomas is thankful for the opportunity to be surrounded by the biology education researchers at the University of Georgia. The type of education research they are conducting is different than any work she has experienced in the past.
“Having research experience opens you up to the community of research as a whole and to the process of research,” said Thomas. “Acquiring that skill or knowledge is useful regardless of your future plans.”
Being that this experience has related so well to Thomas’ career goals, she feels confident that she is in a strong position to make them a reality.