Don’t Judge a Research Project by Its Organism

Don’t Judge a Research Project by Its Organism

As you decide which research opportunities to apply to, avoid automatically dismissing a lab solely based on a model organism. This is important for two reasons:

1) Depending on the project, you may never even see or touch the actual organism—even if you’re in the lab for several years. This is because much research is done on pieces and parts—tissue samples, proteins, or isolated and purified DNA.

2) You will miss out on incredible opportunities if you have an incorrect assumption of what kind of research is done on a model organism. For example, a research project that involves protein folding could lead to downstream applications that are important in human diseases such as frontal temporal demential or cystic fibrosis. A lab could study these using mice, human cell culture, worms, flies, yeast or plants. Yes, that’s right, plants.

So, focus on the science a lab does and ask yourself: “Is it exciting?" and "Does the available project have the training opportunities I want?“

You’ll find that in most cases, whether you need DNA from mouse, fly, plant, worm, yeast, bacteria, or fish it doesn’t matter. Because if you choose the right research position for you, it’s the science that you’ll connect with—not the organism.