An exploratory study of students with depression in undergraduate research experiences

Katelyn M. Cooper, Logan E. Gin, M. Elizabeth Barnes, Sara E. Brownell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Depression is a top mental health concern among undergraduates and has been shown to disproportionately affect individuals who are underserved and underrepresented in science. As we aim to create a more inclusive scientific community, we argue that we need to examine the relationship between depression and scientific research. While studies have identified aspects of research that affect graduate student depression, we know of no studies that have explored the relationship between depression and undergraduate research. In this study, we sought to understand how undergraduates’ symptoms of depression affect their research experiences and how research affects undergraduates’ feelings of depression. We interviewed 35 undergraduate researchers majoring in the life sciences from 12 research-intensive public universities across the United States who identify with having depression. Using inductive and deductive coding, we identified that students’ depression affected their motivation and productivity, creativity and risk-taking, engagement and concentration, and self-perception and socializing in undergraduate research experiences. We found that students’ social connections, experiencing failure in research, getting help, receiving feedback, and the demands of research affected students’ depression. Based on this work, we articulate an initial set of evidence-based recommendations for research mentors to consider in promoting an inclusive research experience for students with depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberar19
JournalCBE life sciences education
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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