The following is the transcript of an interview conducted with Matt Solberg
1. Give a brief description of your research:
Free ranging Cheetah population census with the use of trap cameras (film) in Namibia, Africa. Set up trap cameras at several sites (play trees) to collect data on which cheetahs were in the area, their overall condition, and what sites they were visiting.
2. What do you like about research?
I like coming up with questions and working to solve them through various techniques and methods. I really appreciate the field aspect of research. Even when what I believe to be true is proven wrong, the results are always interesting.
3. What are your struggles with research and what have you done (if anything) to overcome these struggles?
Finding your own unique questions can be difficult. Most people tend to work off questions and theories formed by other individuals. It is also hard to fine tune your research , especially when there are unknown factors affecting it.
4. Did you work closely with a mentor? If so, what are the benefits you have gained from this kind of relationship?
I worked with someone more knowledgeable than myself, which was helpful. This kind of relationship only benefits you if you’re willing to learn and grow. I learned all about Cheetah behavior, specific sites known as play trees, identifying tracks, scent markings/scat, species in the area, conflicts with humans, and the habitat and ecology of Namibia.
5. What are the benefits, in your opinion, of participating in undergraduate research?
To learn and grow professionally of course! Undergrad research prepares you for jobs within your major. You can’t expect to learn solely from books.
6. What advice would you give other undergraduates seeking research or preparing to participate in research for the first time?
Find a good mentor and participate in some undergrad research that your passionate about! I recommend getting to know your professors and TA’s and jumping on opportunities that present themselves! List serves with undergrad positions and volunteer opportunities are a great start.