I am a 7th-year PhD student who first got into academic research the summer before my undergraduate senior year. I attended a research-centric university, but I struggled to find research opportunities as an undergraduate. My experience, similar to many others interested in pursuing academic research, started with me cold-emailing 40 professors just hoping they would even read my email, not to mention get back to me, and even offer me an interview. Of the 40 emails I sent, 2 got back to me for further information. Eventually, I was invited to meet with 1 professor and finally got my foot in the door of academic research. Getting access to academic research should not be this complicated or restrictive, especially at research-centric institutions.
Muser provides a clear process by which research mentors can post job opportunities and recruit applicants on a single platform. Research mentors don’t have to be faculty members to post research project opportunities, broadening the opportunities for research. Undergraduates can find innumerable research opportunities across a variety of disciplines and complete the application process all from the same platform. The idea is simple; I wish I had Muser during my undergraduate career, and it has helped me identify qualified applicants eager to explore research while directly contributing to these efforts.
Interdisciplinary research provides innovative solutions to standing challenges in biomedical challenges. However, conventional tactics for recruiting undergraduate team members are not well suited for interdisciplinary research. Recruiting from within specific majors or departments limits the applicant pool and the diversity of areas of expertise. My research team leverages combinations of techniques from molecular biology, physiology, computer science, neuroscience, and biomedical engineering. Muser provided us with a platform to recruit applicants agnostic to their major or department mailing lists.
I enthusiastically await further improvements from Muser. For example, applicant review has phases of anonymity to provide a more equitable application process. Providing more anonymized information early in the applicant review, such as de-identified transcripts, will help to reduce bias during applicant review. I would also like to see more data on the impact Muser has had accessibility to research. For example, has Muser diversified areas of research in which undergraduates participate? These data and analysis might provide insight into how Muser can improve equitable access to research for undergraduates.
In summary, Muser has positively contributed to the success of my research team. During the last application cycle, my team received more than 35 applicants for 5 positions across a variety of class years and majors / department affiliations. I look forward to the continued growth and improvement of Muser as a tool and advocate of academic research.
Bradley Barth, PhD Candidate, Grill Lab