—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.


Growing Pains and Stepping Stones

—from the Researcher'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.


If Only Choosing a Career Path Was This Easy

—from the PI's desk

Not knowing exactly what you want to do with your life doesn't mean that you're doomed to fail.

If you're struggling to answer questions such as, "Should I choose medical school? Graduate School? Pursue an MD-PhD?" and "What if I'm already set on a path is it too late to change my mind?" know that you're not the only one.


Why Choose Research?

Why Choose Research?

—from the PI’s Desk and the Researcher's bench

If you’re considering undergraduate research, you probably already know some of the potential benefits: looks good on your resume, can help you explore a potential career path, and can lead to recommendation letters.

However, an undergraduate research experience can also support your long-term professional goals (regardless of what your career path turns out to be), foster personal development, and give you an academic edge. Here are only a few of the advantages to participating in an in-depth research experience.

This guest post is by Jacob Landis, a Grad In The Lab, who shares his perspective as a teaching assistant to undergrads in a lab course.

Molecular phylogenetics is used in a wide array of studies including those focused on plant systematics, diversity of birds, and tracking infectious diseases, just to name a few. Recently, we decided to incorporate a module for molecular phylogenetics into an undergraduate introductory lab class to expose students to practices done in some research labs.

What I like to do in my lab classes is to teach practical skills that students can take with them, and hopefully build upon once they get into a research lab.

—from the PI's desk

So far, the vast majority of the undergrads I’ve trained during my research career have been premed students.

With the numerous personal and professional advantages an in-depth research experience can provide, and how a successful research experience can support a medical school application, that is unlikely to change.