undergrad-admin's blog

— from the Lab Manager's bench

For some undergrads, this summer will be spent lounging on the beach reading and hanging out with friends. Days will be spent blissfully sleeping until a parent annoyingly insists that it’s time to get up and do something.

But alas that’s not for you.

If you’ve decided to make the most of your summer by participating in a full-time research experience, you’re about to embark on a new, challenging adventure, and it won’t include much time for lounging. Below are 10 things that will be part of the experience.

15
Apr

10 Pro-Tips to Wrap up Your Spring Research Semester

—from the PI's desk and the Lab Manager's bench

The close of the spring semester brings thoughts of lounging on the beach with a good book, hanging out with friends, or starting an exciting summer internship. In other words, all the things that will make your summer fun and enjoyable. However, don’t let your enthusiasm for the beginning of summer distract you from wrapping up some key tasks in the lab.

15
Mar

Keep in Touch with Your Mentors. You Matter and We Care.

—from the Lab Manager's bench

As a mentor, I don’t stop caring about a former student’s success, well-being, or happiness because they are no longer part of my research group.

I want to know about the life events that they want to share with me—professional and personal--and celebrate when they achieve milestones in either category.

—from the Lab Manager'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.

10
Dec

Is an Independent Project Required for Co-authorship?

—from the Lab Manager's bench and the PI's desk

The inquires we receive about earning a co-authorship from undergrads in the lab typically consist of a summary of their project and a request to evaluate if it's "independent enough."

In many cases, the undergraduate is wondering if they have produced enough independent work to write a thesis (most have by our account), but others wish to know if they will be included as co-author on a journal article or elsewhere.

15
Nov

Growing Pains and Stepping Stones

—from the Lab Manager's bench

After you reach certain benchmarks in the lab, your research supervisor will transition from the role of supervisor to that of a research mentor.

Accompanying this change in roles will be the growing responsibility to do tasks formerly completed by your research supervisor. This will be unsettling at first--especially when you quickly realize that your success is now in your hands. Long ago, one of my undergrads described this path to self-reliance as "Growing Pains" and it immediately became part of our lab’s lingo.

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