Welcome to Undergrad in the Lab!

Undergraduate research can be incredibly rewarding, but where do you start and how do you succeed? Navigating this unfamiliar territory is not easy. Here you will find advice on how to find a research position, and how to get the most out of your experience.

Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.

— Albert Szent-Györgi (1893-1986) U. S. biochemist.

— from the Researcher's bench and PI's desk

For Students: how Getting In: The Insider’s Guide to Finding the Perfect Undergraduate Research Experience will make all the difference in your search and help you prepare for life as an Undergrad In The Lab

Here We Are!

If you're in search of quick tips, awesome photos, or in-depth coverage of STEM research topics, we have a channel for you.

Finding a research position is hard. Getting the most out of the experience-- without sacrificing your GPA or social life-- can be challenging.

We're here to help.

We have two Instagram accounts, and of course we're on Twitter and facebook too.

—from the Researcher's bench

Should I stay, or should I go?

For most researchers, working in the lab over a holiday break is somewhat different from working in the lab during the rest of the year. For example, if an experiment has flexibly, it can be started or stopped when it's convenient for the researcher instead of planned around seminars, classes, and campus parking issues. In addition, some researchers take a vacation, adopt unconventional work hours, or hide in their office to work on a manuscript and only visit the lab to search for inspiration, a snack, or a temporary distraction.

Taking The Leap

When I was new to research, one of the most frustrating things my mentor would say was, "Choose whichever works."

I often tell my students that two scientists in a lab lead to three (or more) potential strategies on how to tackle a research question. In the beginning of your research experience, your mentor will tell you which approach to take.

At some point, she will expect you to weigh the options and choose a strategy to follow. You might not pick the right one the first time, but it’s important that you don’t let that possibility stop you from taking the leap.


New Year's Resolutions and Summer Research Applications

—from the PI's desk
As an undergraduate student, the new year might include making self-improvement goals such as getting better organized, more sleep (and less Netflix), and attending office hours to make meaningful connections with professors. But if you also include exploring your summer research options before the semester is in full swing, you won’t lose out on an incredible opportunity simply because you miss an application deadline.

—from the Researcher's bench

The mysterious ways of mentors

Most mentors do a solid job informing a new undergrad of the basic requirements of a research position. Typically, they cover the expected time commitment, lab safety procedures, lab dress code, and guidelines for writing a pre-proposal or end-of-semester report. When it comes to working at the bench, most mentors remember to share technical tricks with a new researcher, and offer guidance on getting organized, programing equipment, and finding research supplies.

But sometimes, because we have been in science for a long time or because we are distracted by our own research goals, we forget what it was like to be a new undergrad adjusting to a professional lab environment.