Back in March, Johns Hopkins was one of the first universities in the country to shut down its research operation in the wake of the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. Even though research is the life blood of a university, it was the right call and was likely critical in reducing the spread of the virus on campus and in Baltimore. Over the summer, we began to slowly open up our libraries and labs and welcome researchers back to campus, albeit under far stricter regulations and rules. The exception is for undergraduate students, who are still not allowed to participate in university-sponsored research in person, although many students who were already part of research teams have successfully transitioned to remote work.
But what of first-year students? I assumed that without established relationships with faculty and not having mastered research skills, first-year students would largely be out of luck until next summer or fall, when university research returned to normal. Not the biggest deal admittedly, although many students come to Hopkins specifically to connect to research early in their undergraduate career.
Yet in today’s Arrive and Thrive class, my guest – the Director of the Hopkins Office for Undergraduate Research – noted that over 230 Hopkins faculty are actively recruiting new (i.e. first-year) undergraduate researchers. Just goes to show that just because we are still remote, it doesn’t mean that there is a lack of opportunity.