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Research as a First-Year? Ask and It Might Happen.


After only a semester at Hamilton College, Benjamin Mittman ’18 decided to take a chance and ask his psychology professor for an opportunity to do research with him.

Mittman, a pre-med student and intended neuroscience major, says the class was so small he’d gotten comfortable enough with Assistant Professor of Psychology Ravi Thiruchselvam to broach the subject. It worked out: Mittman ended up working with Thiruchselvam, including in a summer position. That was just the type of experience Mittman had hoped for in college.

“I didn’t just want to be a face in the crowd in a 200-person lecture just learning the material. I wanted to be able to participate in research and have conversations, get to know my professors,” he says.

In the summer job, Mittman worked with Thiruchselvam on a study that he can’t yet discuss because it is ongoing. In other work, he helped Thiruchselvam do the data analysis for a study about emotion regulation. And he is doing a research project through independent study. Even with all that science, Mittman makes a point of taking a range of courses. He pondered minoring in music or Spanish but couldn’t pick just one.

“I figured I’d have to sort of spare one for the other to go for the minor, so instead I’m just doing a few (courses) of each,” he says.

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