By Frida Carrera
The Undergraduate Research Ambassadors have announced that they are piloting a new platform – created by students for students – to facilitate undergraduate research engagement. After launching last year for students in the BME department, PairMe is now expanding to students of all majors and departments. On this virtual platform, mentors (professors, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and research scientists) can post openings to recruit students to perform research. Students can then view postings by signing in with their GT credentials and applying directly to open positions. PairMe is available for all undergraduate students and research-affiliated members of Georgia Tech, as well as the joint Biomedical Engineering Department at Emory University.
The idea behind the website started when biomedical engineering student, Amy Liu, saw a disparity in the access between mentors and BME students. In the summer of 2020, she began to research the need from the perspective of mentors. She conducted surveys of graduate students in BME as well as other College of Engineering and College of Sciences departments. She found that mentors were largely passive when seeking a mentee — with most just waiting for emails to come in through their principal investigators (PIs) — yet many had the desire to actively recruit students. So, to address this issue, Liu created a website where mentors could post and manage project openings (with the PI’s approval of course) for undergraduate students to apply to. First going live in October 2020 in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, she hoped that this continually updated virtual platform would facilitate communication among groups and bring benefits to all three parties involved — the mentee, the mentor, and the PI — especially during the height of the pandemic.
“I would like Tech students to know that PairMe was created to fill a gap," Liu said. "As Georgia Tech is a research-driven institution, every student should have equal opportunities to conduct research. With greater awareness, increased visibility of options, and a broader reach, I believe this platform has the potential to reduce the barrier to getting involved in undergraduate research at Tech."
Both mentors and students can benefit from PairMe as it presents an opportunity for mentors to directly recruit Tech students through public postings, while undergraduate students can strategically apply to labs with openings instead of blindly emailing professors. PairMe is now live for all Georgia Tech students and postings can be made at any time.
Georgia Tech researchers can post opportunities and students can access PairMe by visiting pairme.aep.gatech.edu.
To learn more about undergraduate research at Georgia Tech visit undergradresearch.gatech.edu.