The following page contains short definitions to terms that appear in the blog.  These glossary items are linked to this page from the specific posts where they appear.  If you would like to see any terms added to the glossary, please contact us at connolly (at) or leave a comment below.

  • Advisor – An advisor is a professor that oversees the research being done by the students in a research group.  The advisor suggests projects, provides advice and guidance through regular meetings with the students, and in general helps a student develop into a scientist.
  • Analysis Analysis is the process of interpreting scientific data.  This is often done by graphing data, making comparisons between your data and data from other experiments.  Possible sources of error are considered as well.
  • Fundamental ResearchFundamental research is research that is carried out with the purpose of increasing our understanding of basic principles of science.
  • Grad StudentGrad student is short for graduate student. This is someone who has a bachelor’s degree and is pursuing a master’s degree or PhD. This person takes advanced classes in his or her field as well as participates in research studies.
  • Letter of Recommendation – A recommendation letter is a support letter for a specific person that is written by someone in a supervisory role.   The letter evaluates a candidate for a job or graduate program based on their abilities, motivation, performance, achievements, and enthusiasm, to name a few areas.
  • PostdocPostdoc is short for postdoctoral researcher. This is someone who has PhD but has a temporary position before becoming a professor or obtaining some other permanent job. This person mostly does research, but can sometimes also teach classes.
  • Professor – A professor is somebody who has a PhD and has, or is on track for, a permanent position at a university. At a major research university like OSU, the professor’s responsibilities include conducting research, teaching, and service work such as serving on committees. At other types of universities such as small colleges, a professor’s primary responsibilities may be in teaching. A professor’s research may be carried out with undergrad and grad students, and he or she may teach students at both levels as well.
  • TATA, which is short for teaching assistant, is a part time job often held by grad students. TAs run undergraduate lab courses and lead recitation sections for undergraduate lecture courses. (Recitation sections are common at large universities where the class size is often very large.  For example, a class of 200 students might be taught by a professor, but that class is broken into smaller sections called recitations.  These smaller recitations provide a place where the undergraduates can interact closely with the TA.) TAs work for the professor that teaches the undergrads during lecture.
  • UndergradUndergrad is short for undergraduate student. This is someone pursuing a bachelor’s or associate degree at a college or university after having already obtained a high school diploma. He or she picks a major field of study, for example the person can be a physics major. This person takes classes both in his or her chosen major as well as general education classes.

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