Hello and welcome to those of you tuning into this year’s Fall 2021 OUR Research Symposium. My name is Vanessa Booth and I am currently a student in the UNLV Honor’s College majoring in Political Science and minoring in Brookings Public Policy. I have been an undergraduate researcher here at UNLV for approximately 3 years. To discuss a little bit about my research background, I have done a number of things both on and off campus, but some experiences to name are serving as student researcher for Brookings Mountain West and the Lincy Institute where I contribute critical policy research and solutions for the Mountain West region, serving as a student program coordinator for the Office of Undergraduate Research OREO program where I mentor CCSD students, being a Ronald E. McNair scholar on campus and being able to do research assistantships under a number of professors and working on manuscripts for publications, and also doing a research internship off-campus for the Director of National Intelligence office where I have been able to conduct research on foreign adversaries, strategic intelligence, and artificial intelligence.

Discussing how research has impacted my professional development both on and off campus – participating in the research process has helped me clarify the choice in my degree program and also my post-graduation plans along with my career interests. Coming to UNLV, my goals were to major in political science and simply go to law school and pursue malpractice or corporate law. After participating in the Brookings Public Policy program and getting involved in the Office of Undergraduate Research, I found a keen passion for conducting critical policy research. Since then, my entire professional development path has changed to me now wanting to receive a dual graduate degree in both a J.D. and having a Masters in Public Policy to eventually, hopefully, become a policy analyst for the United States federal government or work in some capacity for the State department.

With the importance of research comes the ability to hone in on your oral communications skills, network, being able to formulate your thoughts into a manuscript for publication, and really being able to convey to both people in your field and outside of your field information and research that is digestable and accessible.

The importance of research is so important in someone’s undergraduate career. No matter your major or field of study, it’s for everyone. Often times in the research world, there can be a really big stressor that research is only for those in the sciences or STEM-related fields. The truth is, it’s both for social sciences, humanities, arts, and STEM. It’s for everybody. Participating in research allows everyone the opportunity to not only divulge into their field of study, but also do multidisciplinary research and connect with researchers who are just as passionate as you and to really be able to contribute to a greater body of knowledge that can not only inspire your career trajectory, but also influence future opportunities such as gaining research fellowships, internships, and even scholarships that can fund your future studies.

Talking about how the OUR symposia have changed my life and really influenced my trajectory in college, being able to learn how to quickly deliver research that I have conducted over the course of months or weeks has been really valuable. Being able to create videos like these and really present everything that I’ve done in a digestible manner for both those that are in and outside of my field is a skill that is so valuable and so important. I think many people don’t discuss it enough. Oftentimes, in research, many people do the research, but they’re still stuck in the datasets. The really important part of research is sharing it with others and making it so that everyone can experience it’s uniqueness and how important it is. I think OUR’s symposia really creates a great opportunity for researchers across campus to come together, network with each other, and also talk to people in the field like professors to learn more about how their trajectory of research can change and be influenced for their career interests or just for a pure hobby because at this point, I feel that research can also be a hobby in and of itself.

I hope everyone has a great time at this year’s OUR research symposia and best of luck to everyone!

Vanessa Booth
Brookings Mountain West & The Lincy Institute Student Researcher 
Communications Intern Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Office of Undergraduate Research OREO Program Coordinator
Managing Editor for the UNLV Scarlet & Gray Free Press 
Ronald E. McNair Scholar/ Troesh Scholar