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One factor that many prospective students tend to focus on when considering Johns Hopkins is the opportunity for research. After all, we are the nation’s first research university with a research budget in excess of 2 billion dollars. This budget is not only the largest in the nation but has been so for over 37 years. In his inaugural speech our university’s first president, Daniel Coit Gilman, described the purpose of Johns Hopkins as “To educate its students and cultivate their capacity for lifelong learning, to foster independent and original research, and to bring the benefits of discovery to the world.” So one can consider research, in all its variety, as an integral part of the Johns Hopkins experience.

View of the Undergraduate Teaching Labs.

Starting this semester I was very interested in finding research a position. Though research is widespread, the hunt for an opportunity seemed daunting to me as I have never worked in a lab before. After searching for brain science related opportunities on the Homewood campus, I reached out to a few labs that interested me. It has been my experience that most researchers at Hopkins are eager to include undergraduates in their laboratory and care about aiding their learning through research. Following a few meetings, I decided on the Cognitive and Brain Sciences Lab. I work as a research assistant on a study examining the acquisition of letters and letter meaning. My roles include analyzing and formatting the data from the study. I particularly enjoy a flexible schedule and interacting with many of my instructors outside the classroom in my workplace. I find my work to be fascinating and rewarding; knowing that I am contributing to academia and advancing our understanding of the human mind. Not only am I gaining academic credit for this work but I am learning a variety of new skills.

Nonetheless, research encompasses a variety of topics and is a different experience for everyone. Freshman Daniela Baratta, a Molecular and Cellular Biology and French Major,
works at the geriatric unit of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as a study team member for “The effects of lactoferrin on chronic inflammation in the elderly.” She describes searching for research as “Just a google search away for any JHU student regardless of experience.” Trent Dilka, a freshman majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Public Health, conducts research in a lab working on “retroviral gene expression.” He describes his research as “Working with how part of a plasmid regulates a downstream gene involved in telomerase, which is overexpressed in cancer cells.” Describing research at Hopkins as “very accessible” he explains “Everyone I know looking for a research position has gotten one, and I think the research opportunities offered here at Hopkins are one of the many things that make it stand out.”

All in all, research is at the heart of what makes Hopkins the institution that it is. Whether it be in archeology or medicine or at Homewood or abroad, research at Johns Hopkins is diverse and spans a variety of disciplines. With plentiful opportunities and researchers that seek to engage undergraduates, accessibility is paramount to research at Hopkins. Though this is only the beginning of my involvement in research over my college career, I hope I could shed some light on what it means for Johns Hopkins to be a research university. See the links below for more information on undergraduate research resources.

View of a chemistry lab.


For an overview of research at Johns Hopkins click here. To learn more about Undergraduate Research visit the HOUR Homepage here. If you are currently seeking research opportunities or are interested in ongoing studies check out a fantastic student startup called Forager One here.