Supporting students, mentors, and instructors engaged in research.

Keeleigh Smith

Alumni Spotlight | October 2018

KU major: Applied Behavioral Science, Class of 2016

Current occupation: Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst

Research mentor while at KU: Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed



Describe the undergraduate research experience that you had while at KU:

A: I was able to create a research question and conduct a study in Dr. DiGennaro Reed's lab. We studied whether a person's performance on a simulated work task was affected by the type of audio they listened to - either music or a lecture.


Q: What do you think was the most important thing you learned while doing undergraduate research? 

A: I was able to work on several different skills while doing research! I learned about experimental design and how to conduct research, practiced my writing skills while preparing a manuscript, and I was even lucky enough to practice my public speaking and professional skills when I presented my research at a conference a few years ago.


Q: What advice do you have for undergraduates who might be interested in doing research or creative scholarship?

A: Find a professor who is willing to let you help out in their lab! I was able to get a little bit of experience in several different areas of behavior analysis, and it was well worth it. Research can help you determine what career path you want to take, because you can explore different areas of your field while you're still pursuing your degree.


Q: Do you use any of the skills or perspectives gained doing research in your current occupation?  How so?

A: The field of behavior analysis relies heavily on research, so being able to understand and apply results to everyday situations with real-life clients is crucial. I think doing research so early on in my journey really helped me in my work with children with autism, and it made me realize how interested I am in Organizational Behavior Management. I am planning to work closely with the director of my current company to improve the employee on-boarding and training process, and this interest ties back to the research I did at KU.


Q: Many undergraduate researchers are making decisions about what to do after they graduate from KU. Having been in those shoes, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then? Do you have any advice?

A: Don't be afraid to ask your professors for help in your decision making process! The professor I worked with on my research project became my mentor. She and I got to know each other pretty well, so I felt comfortable asking her for advice on what to do after graduation. She helped me decide which graduate program was best for me, and I owe so much to her.

Spotlight Search



Connect With Us
Research teaches critical thinking and problem solving — top skills sought by employers
The Research Experience Program has certified more than 2,000 students since 2005
KU is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research
More than 1,200 students have received Undergraduate Research Awards since 1986
More than 150 mentors sponsored undergraduate projects through the Center for Undergraduate Research each year
KU's first valedictorian, Flora Richardson, conducted research as an undergraduate before graduating in 1873
Highlight your research on your transcript: Get certified through the Research Experience Program
Use research to apply what you learned in the classroom to a real problem
Students who perform research develop strong relationships with KU faculty
Research is a hands-on way to explore career options
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report