A taste of academic research

A group of La Trobe University students have delved into topics as diverse as turtles, river communities, telehealth psychology and local history, through a new research taster program.

Designed to open undergraduate students up to the world of higher-degree research, the six-week program connects students with an academic based at La Trobe’s Albury-Wodonga campus, to work on a project of local significance, and beyond.

The nine projects span a range of disciplines including psychology, history, biomedical science, environmental science and sociology.

La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO said the program gives undergraduate students hands-on experience in helping solve real-world problems.

“We have so much impactful research happening right here in Albury-Wodonga – and so many opportunities for students to pursue their passion for a particular topic after they graduate, by enrolling in a Masters or PhD,” Professor Dewar said.

“This program gives undergraduates a taste of what academic research is like and develops their skills in research design, data collection, analysis and research communication.

“Working with La Trobe researchers who are helping solve some of the important issues of our time, they can picture themselves doing the same kind of work in future,” Professor Dewar said.

Psychology student, Samantha Lane, said the program has enriched her university experience.

“It gave me insight into how a research project works – how they are designed, carried out and communicated,” Ms Lane said.

“I am now considering a PhD to pursue a career in research. Coming from regional Victoria, I think it’s great that these opportunities are available, so that we don’t have to travel to Melbourne to decide whether academic research is for us.”

La Trobe funded the program, paying each student $1500 over the six weeks they worked part-time on the project. The students presented their findings at a half-day Research Symposium on the Albury-Wodonga campus.

This is the first time the university has offered such a program to undergraduate students.

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