Benjamin Weger, Biology/Mathematics & Computer Science Major
Research Project: Investigating the Challenges of Applying Phylogenetic Methods to Cultural Data Sets (Faculty Mentors: Dr. Tony Weisstein, Associate Professor of Biology and Dr. Pam Ryan, Professor of Mathematics)
Q: How did you find a research mentor?
A: One of my research mentors was my academic advisor and then he connected me with another mentor with whom he collaborated on my research topic.
Q: What did you do for your TruScholars project?
A: I analyzed the application of phylogenetic methods for evolution with cultural data sets.
Q: What advice would you give to students who want to get involved in research?
A: Talk to professors who have done research in an area you’re interested in and see if they have opportunities for you or can point you in the right direction.
Q: How did you get started doing research?
A: I was asked to continue and complete research that had not been attended to for a few years.
Q: What did you do in a typical day conducting research?
A: I would do a combination of reading primary literature on applied phylogenetics and work with the software for multiple hours creating, editing, and analyzing phylogenetic trees in lab.
Q: What was the most rewarding part about carrying out research?
A: The most rewarding part was developing a research-based method of thinking and analyzing. It’s an ability that I have been able to apply to other areas of my life and will continue to utilize.
Q: What was the most challenging aspect of doing research and how did you overcome it?
A: The most challenging aspect of doing research was staying focused on my research goals. When I received results from my experiments, it would be tempting to explore the mechanisms for the results, but had to limit my investigation to what truly pertained to my research goal and not get side-tracked with another project.